Public procurement involves a process through which the public sector buys goods, services and works from private suppliers to accomplish its functions, including road infrastructure projects. Sustainability, both within the procurement process and the infrastructure outcome, comprises economic, environmental and social dimensions. Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP) is acknowledged as a core dimension of sustainable development goal 12 (SDG12) on sustainable consumption by States and production by businesses, and as a State-business nexus within Pilar I of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs). Clearly, SPP delivering sustainable infrastructure involves broad positive effects and benefits for involved stakeholders and leveraging power over business suppliers to include social sustainable criteria within the procurement process is in the State’s hands. However, SPP has been little implemented in developing States such as Mexico resulting in unsustainable infrastructure outcomes. This article explores, through two case studies, the barriers of socially sustainable public procurement of road infrastructure developed by businesses contracted by the State in Mexico. By identifying such barriers, the Mexican State could be able to implement measures to tackle them and deliver on social sustainable infrastructure aligned with its commitments on sustainable development goals and its international obligations on human rights.
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