New Sustainable Public Procurement Programme provides opportunity and benefits for Governments

A new global programme to encourage and facilitate sustainable public procurement was launched this week and aims to harness the power of the trillions of dollars that governments spend on public procurement each year towards a shift to a more resource-efficient world. The Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP) Programme aims to enable this shift by improving knowledge of sustainable procurement’s benefits and supporting implementation through access to experts and tools.


sustainable public procurement

Copyright: UNEP


According to UNEP’s Executive Director, OECD countries spent an average 13% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on public procurement in 2011, while in some developing nations this can get up to 20%. This presents a great potential for governments to integrate sustainability into markets by by demanding goods and services that conserve natural resources, create decent green jobs, and enhance sustainable livelihoods.

The SPP programme, by working to ensure such purchasing decisions are the norm rather than the exception, aims to play a vital role in transitioning the globe to an inclusive Green Economy. The SPP Programme is co-led by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, and the Korea Environmental Industry and Technology Institute (KEITI). 

Existing initiatives from around the globe prove that sustainable procurement transforms markets, boosts eco-industries, saves money, conserves natural resources and fosters job creation. For example:
  • Indian Railways replaced more than one million incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient fluorescent lamps in 400,000 employees’ homes, saving more than 100,000MWh of energy and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 90,000 tonnes each year. 
  • In Brazil, the Foundation for Education Development saved 8,800 cubic metres of water and 1,750 tonnes of waste by using notebooks made from recycled paper in Sao Paulo schools.
  • In France, a contract for the purchase of toner cartridges was awarded to an organization that, between 2009 and 2011, recovered 11,500 kilogrammes of waste, saved the government 30 per cent in costs and created nine full-time jobs for disabled people.

“If public money is spent on products and services that reduce environmental impacts, encourage social improvement and achieve financial efficiency, a huge step forward could be made towards sustainable development,” said Gino Van Begin, ICLEI Secretary General. “This is what the 10-Year Framework Programme on Sustainable Public Procurement aims to achieve.”

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