Green public procurement: a strong stimulus for eco-innovation
“To unleash the full potential of public procurement we need ambitious procuring authorities, specific requirements and market dialogue” explains Nora Backer Malm, Senior Consultant at EY in Oslo, Norway. We met with Nora at COP25 in Madrid.
Public procurement refers to the purchase by governments and state-owned enterprises of goods, services and works, and accounts for a substantial portion of the taxpayers’ money. Green public procurement (GPP) has a key role to play in the world’s efforts to transition to a more resource-efficient economy. In the context of the climate crisis, it can help stimulate a critical mass of demand for more sustainable goods and services which otherwise would be difficult to get onto the market.
There is a number of key challenges to the implementation of Green Public Procurement. Senior officials within the public sector across Europe do not have a high awareness of the importance of the GPP agenda, and Green products are perceived to cost more. But things are changing. A survey conducted by EY in Norway showed that six out of eleven sectors would like the public sector to impose green criteria/requirements. “To unleash the full potential of public procurement we need ambitious procuring authorities, specific requirements and market dialogue” explains Nora Backer Malm, Senior Consultant at EY in Oslo, Norway.
We asked Malm about the potential of public green procurement.
What potential do you see in public green procurement?
In Norway the public authorities spend about EUR 50bn (NOK 500bn) on procurement activities every year. If we manage to channel these funds in the right direction, Green public procurement has great potential in creating new markets for goods and services needed to fuel the transition to the low-carbon economy. Examples from Norway include electrical passenger ferries and zero-emission construction sites. In these cases the procuring authorities have had high ambitions to cut emissions and used the public tenders to request new solutions.
Could you give us a few examples of sustainable public procurement that can be easily implemented?
Thinking in terms of circularity is a good place to begin. Reconsider whether the purchase is necessary. If yes, can you get away with buying less or purchase product that will last longer? Focus on reuse, upgrade, and repair where possible. Requesting recycled or recyclable material is another way to promote sustainability.
How can we unleash the full potential of public procurement?
We need procuring authorities to be ambitious and to align their procurement activities with the organization’s climate goals. Moreover, procurement criteria need to be specific and address the most important sustainability aspects of the industry and/or product. Criteria that require the supplier to ‘not harm the environment’ or to use ‘low emission vehicles’ when delivering products, do not cut emissions and do not create green markets. Lastly, we need more dialogue between the market and purchasing entities. Dialogue allows bidders to develop proposals that fulfills the purchaser’s requirements and their environmental ambitions.
Anne-Sophie Garrigou, Editor-in-Chief
- Read the full report in Norwegian: Norwegian industries’ The pace of the green transition in Norwegian industry.