We must not prepare for the next pandemic, because the next shock won’t look like COVID-19.

Like many other shocks before it, COVID-19 has exposed critical vulnerabilities in global value chains, and entire industries to critical dependencies.

One dependency is the concept of ‘cost’. The need to account for the true cost of supplies in a value chain is becoming a priority. Traditional cost models are being re-evaluated and the ‘True Cost of Low Cost’ is a nascent movement within the procurement world and a principle of Project X’s adoption methodology.

Another area is ‘competition’. There are straightforward yet profound approaches to creating impact. We don’t create true impact by being exposed to the activities of impactful companies. Indeed, companies don’t own impact, they cause impact and these outcomes are what create ripples effects across industries.

New and improved business models will become accepted in the 2020s. These models will ensure organisations can safely operate and thrive in a world where shocks are the new norm. To paraphrase John Maynard Keynes, “the difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas, as in escaping from old ones”.

To escape tradition and future-proof organisations we must embrace ‘Consciousness Procurement’. This is about enhancing the act of buying (value chain supplies) with high levels of understanding, appreciation and respect. Quality, cost and speed will of course continue to be critical criteria — but becoming conscious of other variables will be the catalyst for leaders, companies and industries to deliver performance, resilience and productivity.

We must not prepare for the next COVID-19. Shocks will be different every time. Project X’s vision is to be able one day to show that the power of business procurement has bent biodiversity and GHG curves.

The planet is asking us for coordinated action at scale – it’s crucial that we deliver it quickly. The degradation of climate change and biodiversity loss is happening at an exponential rate and the average response is linear. We all know what is at stake. We all know the response is not sufficient. At Project X we take away excuses to act on climate change. There is no better time to act than now.

Our mission is to shift $1.3 trillion in procurement spend in 10 key industries in 10 years from unsustainable to sustainable sources. With higher consciousness, we can transform value chains at the pace the planet needs it.


Marcela Navarro is the CEO of Project X, and a recognised leader in purpose-led transformation models, with a proven track record in South America, North America and Europe. Prior to co-founding Project X, Marcela was Head of Customer Innovation at RBS, and a member of its Corporate Banking Board, where she led innovative programmes transforming the way traditional systems work together, resulting in multimillion pound savings, additional revenue for the bank, its customers and suppliers and significant environmental benefits. In 2015, she was recognised as Leader of the Year by Business Green and in 2014 she received a Word of Difference Award for her contributions to supplier inclusion.