Public procurement has been claimed as the key element to drive the integration of the three dimensions of sustainability (economic, environmental, and social) in the construction industry. However, important drawbacks are hindering the effective and efficient implementation of social sustainability in public-works procurement. Currently, a lack of knowledge exists about how social sustainability is considered in the construction industry. There is also a lack of consistent, clear, and practical definitions about what is social sustainability in the construction industry, what factors should be used to define it, and how social sustainability in this industry should be measured and assessed. Based on this, scientific literature highlights the need to study how social sustainability could be implemented more effectively in the construction industry through public procurement, claiming the need for developing a methodology to assist agencies in the effective inclusion and objective assessment of social criteria in public-works procurement.
According to these needs, two research questions are defined. On the one hand, this research seeks to characterize the current scenario regarding the inclusion of social sustainability within public-works procurement at the international level. To that end, the analysis of 451 tendering documents from ten countries is performed in order to: determine how public-works procurement procedures and project delivery methods are considered at the international level; identify the main social sustainability criteria; study how these criteria are defined depending on the stage of the tendering procedure; and, identify the variables that influence the implementation of social sustainability criteria in public-works procurement. On the other hand, this research analyzes how the integration of social sustainability criteria in public-works procurement should be improved to overcome the current scenario. The indicators that should be used to assess the social sustainability criteria in public procurement of civil engineering construction projects are established; and a methodology is developed to improve and strengthen the correct implementation of the social criteria in public-works procurement at the international level, specifying where the social criteria should be included depending on the procurement procedure.
This study has established a specific scope for each research question. To characterize the inclusion of social sustainability criteria in public-works procurement, the scope has been defined considering an international approach; and every stage of the infrastructure life cycle of building and civil engineering projects covered. To integrate the social criteria in public-works procurement, the methodology focused only on the construction stage of civil engineering projects.
The characterization of the current scenario concluded that there is a lack of understanding regarding how to quantify social indicators; more significant efforts are needed to increase the number of social categories in procurement procedures; and, a strong dependence of the national context on the inclusion of social criteria in public procurement exists, emphasizing the consideration of location-dependent aspects in the development of methodologies to assess social sustainability in public procurement. Based on this, the development of a holistic methodology to include social criteria in public procurement of civil engineering construction projects was addressed. This work highlighted that, in order to guarantee their effective implementation, three groups of social criteria should be differentiated: 1) human rights; 2) corporate social responsibility; and, 3) social commitment in the project. A methodological approach was established for each of these groups.
SOURCE: Laura Montalban Domingo. “Social sustainability in public-work procurement.” Dialnet, 2019.
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