Sustainable Procurement Initiative

UVic’s Purchasing Services team strives to make procurement decisions that are financially, socially and environmentally responsible. Our sustainable procurement initiative aims to do this by:

  1. clearly stating to suppliers the minimum ethical, social and environmental standards expected of them, as well as their subcontractors, in order to do business with UVic through our Supplier Code of Conduct;
  2. assessing current and potential suppliers with a third-party social auditor (EcoVadis) that identifies high risk sectors, locates compliance gaps in our supply chain and helps us set corrective action plans with our suppliers; and
  3. continuing to have a robust supplier selection process.

Purchasing Services’ sustainable procurement initiative supports the commitment to global leadership in environmental, social and institutional sustainability that is articulated in UVic’s Strategic Framework. It also supports the upcoming Climate and Sustainability Action Plan. This initiative has two important goals. The first is to improve the sustainability performance of UVic’s supply chain. The second is to ensure that all suppliers meet the requirements of UVic’s Supplier Code of Conduct.


UVic is the first Canadian university to partner with EcoVadis, the world’s largest provider of business sustainability ratings. EcoVadis conducts individual sustainability performance assessments of our supply chain partners based on relevant supplier policies, practices and results. The assessment focuses on 21 sustainability criteria that are grouped into four themes: Environment, Labor and Human Rights, Ethics and Sustainable Procurement.

EcoVadis’ expertise in corporate social responsibility enables them to produce internationally comparable ratings and detailed scorecards that highlight the strengths and improvement areas of supplier performance. The ratings enable cooperation between buying organizations and the assessed suppliers to improve the social and environmental impacts of their supply chain. UVic aims to work with suppliers that demonstrate holistic sustainability and to collaborate with these suppliers to address improvement areas that have been identified in the EcoVadis reports, thereby developing stronger working relationships with our trading partners.

Addressing Modern Slavery in the Supply Chain

Modern slavery is an example of a supplier issue that the sustainable procurement initiative aims to address. While anti-slavery laws have existed in Canada for centuries, the problem of slavery still exists and is flourishing in the complexities of global supply chains. Canada has only recently moved closer to enacting legislation that specifically addresses modern slavery, such as Bills S-211 and C-243, which would mandate supply chain reporting. UVic’s Sustainable Procurement Initiative allows UVic to investigate, report on and eliminate human rights violations in its supply chain ahead of legislation.

UVic’s Supplier Code of Conduct prohibits suppliers from using child or forced labour and sets minimum standards for other human rights violations associated with modern slavery, including wages, disciplinary practices and hours of work. Child labour, forced labour and human trafficking is one of EcoVadis’s 21 Sustainability Criteria used to assess suppliers. With EcoVadis, UVic can identify potential instances of modern slavery in our supply chain, often found deep in subcontractors or component materials, and partner with suppliers to correct the problem.

UVic recently organized a presentation on modern slavery in university supply chains at the 2021 Canadian Association of University Business Officers (CAUBO) conference. Watch UVic’s Janice Johnson, Executive Director of Financial Services, and Xavier Serrano, Director of Purchasing Services, join Kam Phung, Assistant Professor of Business & Society at Simon Fraser University, in a discussion of modern slavery in the supply chain and what UVic is doing about it: