Sustainable Procurement and the United Nations

On November 13th, Mr. Alexander Blecken will give a lecture on the topic "Sustainable Procurement and the United Nations". The lecture is open to the public. Space is limited, so please register ahead of time.

Past event — 13 November 2013

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Alexander Blecken

Deputy Director

Sustainable Procurement Practice Group of the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)


This talk will focus on Procurement within the United Nations system. The lecture comprises three parts: First, an overview of the United Nations (UN) and its function is given and it is elaborated how procurement works in the UN system. The specific role of the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) is explored. With over 6000 personnel; more than 1000 active projects in over 80 countries; and goods and services valued at $800 million each year, UNOPS contributes substantially to both the UN overall and to its partners’ peacebuilding, humanitarian and development projects. It is discussed how the Sustainable Procurement delivery practice of UNOPS provides added value to the UN system. In a second part, we review the potential barriers to implementing sustainable procurement in the UN system as a whole. Our findings suggest that agency mandates and politics, as well as tools, resources, and supply represent the most significant obstacles to mainstreaming the relatively new practice. Possible solutions include standardizing the sustainable procurement commitment levels between policymakers and practitioners. In the third part, we focus on UN cooperation in procurement. We review the benefits of shared long-term agreements within the UN system, but also note the gap between theory and practice. We explore different options for collaborations as well as discuss findings from a global empirical survey among organizations of the UN system. UNOPS has also strengthened cooperation through the diversification of its partners – ranging from the private sector to NGOs, financial institutions, and governments. This has greatly expanded the agency’s reach in delivering projects around the world, and helped leverage market power on a global scale. 


Alexander Blecken is a Deputy Director at the Sustainable Procurement Practice Group of the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS). Alexander has worked in the field of procurement and logistics for over 10 years in various positions both within the public and private sectors. He has specific experience with policy and strategy development, sustainable procurement, business development and developing and implementing training and education programs. Prior to joining UNOPS, Alexander served as Project Manager in a UN-wide project on the harmonization of procurement practices among UN organizations. At the management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, Alexander managed projects and lead teams on procurement and operations projects. Alexander holds a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences from the University of Southern California in the United States and a Ph. D. in Supply Chain Management from the University of Paderborn in Germany. He has taught supply chain management at universities and business schools across Europe. Alexander served four years on the Board of Directors of Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders). Alexander speaks German and English, and has a working knowledge of French and Danish.

To register please send an email to: melanie.winkelmann(at)

The Lecture Series

The KLU Lecture Series is a forum for scientists and practitioners to talk and discuss on state-of-the art topics related loosely to logistics and entrepreneurship.