From 26-28 October 2020, the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), in cooperation with the Service Agency Communities in One World (SKEW), welcomed around 150 international experts to a virtual dialogue on sustainable public procurement.
The inclusion of sustainability criteria in public tenders is considered one of the biggest potential drivers of sustainable consumption and production patterns in the sense of SDG 12 of the Agenda 2030. In practice, sustainable procurement needs to be linked to instruments of a professional public procurement system.
The participants exchanged views on three currently much-discussed instruments:
- the use of electronic procurement platforms (e-procurement)
- various dialogue formats with market actors
- the bundling of demand in purchasing groups.
During the first day of the event, experts such as André Siedenberg (Kopart) and Tumelo Ntlaba (National Treasury South Africa) discussed ways of taking sustainability criteria into account in electronic purchasing platforms. On those platforms, ordering sustainable products and services should be made as easy as possible for end users in municipalities. The exchange between the public sector and „the market“, i.e. retailers, manufacturers and certification organisations, was the main topic of the second event day. Birte Detjen (Immobilien Bremen) and Christian Gusbeth (Procurement Office of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, Building and Community) drew attention to the central advantages for both sides: Through exchange with the market, the public entities find out which criteria they can demand and/or how they can prepare market participants for new ambitious criteria.
On the other hand, companies would be able to plan production capacities and modalities better. On the last day of the Dialogue Forum, the participants focused on bundling demand in purchasing groups. Gisele Duarte Doetzer, manager of Brazil’s largest network on sustainable procurement (Sustenta Paraná), drew attention to the many positive consequences of demand pooling for the fulfillment of the SDGs. Due to the bundling of knowledge and buyer power, purchasing groups could often serve all sustainability dimensions more effectively than classic individual procurement.
This year’s Dialogue Forum has clearly shown that sustainable and professional procurement have a positive influence on each other and should be approached in an integrated manner. This will enable public procurement to respond more effectively to both short-term challenges such as the current Corona crisis and long-term challenges such as climate change. Policy-makers are called upon to ensure that public support institutions are able to provide public authorities with effective and holistic guidance on sustainable and professional procurement.
If you want to look closer at this topic, please find here futher readings and videos on Pathways towards sustainable public procurement: success factors drawn from pioneering municipalities in Germany and Europe.