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International Policy Framework

Key international organisations recognise public procurement as a means of changing current unsustainable patterns of consumption and production.

United Nations Environment Programme – UNEP and 10YFP SPP Programme  

Marrakech Task Force on SPP

The 10YFP Programme on Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP) is a global platform that supports the implementation of SPP around the world. It brings together a variety of stakeholders, building synergies & leveraging resources to achieve the following objectives:

  1. Building the case for SPP: improving the knowledge on SPP and its effectiveness as a tool to promote sustainable consumption and production, support greener economies and sustainable development.
  2. Supporting the implementation of SPP on the ground through increased collaboration, and better access to capacity-building tools and support through SPP experts.

A significant achievement of the SPP Programme was the adoption by the Multistakeholder Advisory Committee of the Sustainable Public Procurement Principles, which were publicly released in March 2015. To learn more, click here.

The work areas currently being implemented are:

    1. Work Area 1: “Implementing SPP on the Ground”. The first Work Area focuses on making implementation a reality.
    2. Work Area 2: “Assessing Implementation & Impacts.” The second work area takes a step back from implementation to see how organizations keep track of SPP and tangibly measure its outcomes. This area has 3 sub-groups: “Monitoring SPP implementation”, “Measuring impacts and communicating benefits created by SPP”, and “Promoting best practices.”
    3. Work Area 3: “Addressing barriers to SPP implementation and Promoting Innovative Solutions”. This area aims to propose innovative solutions that address current barriers to SPP implementation, through the work of 2 sub-groups: “Integrating Product Service Systems (PSS) into SPP”, “Overcoming legal barriers” and “Including Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)”.
    4. Work Area 4: “Collaborating with the private sector”. This area analyzes the integral part that the private sector plays in public procurement, and seeks ways to improve that collaboration through two sub-groups: “Greening supply chains” and “SPP through ecolabels and standards”.

While Work Area 1 is meant to directly support SPP implementation on the ground, work areas 2, 3 and 4 offer indirect support through studies, research, improved information tools, capacity building tools, etc. A number of publications are already available on the SCP Clearinghouse E-library. 

The 10YFP Programme on SPP further amplifies and extends the impact of the Sustainable Public Procurement Initiative (SPPI), which was launched in June 2012 at the Rio+20 Conference). The SPPI was itself a continuation of the Marrakech Task Force on Sustainable Public Procurement, led by the government of Switzerland from 2005 until 2011.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development – OECD 

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development – OECD

The OECD is an intergovernmental organisation which acts as an arena for exchange and shares its expertise on democracy and market issues in order to: 

  • Support sustainable economic growth
  • Boost employment
  • Raise living standards
  • Maintain financial stability
  • Assist other countries' economic development
  • Contribute to growth in world trade

The OECD supports the establishment of links between greener public purchasing and other policy areas such as general environmental policy, public expenditure management, trade law and competition policy. It publishes reviews and recommendations based on its actions in this area. 

For more information: OECD Greener Public Purchasing page.

World Trade Organisation – WTO 

World Trade Organisation – WTO

The WTO provides a negotiating forum, a set of rules and a place to settle disputes in the field of trade. It works towards trade liberalisation and is the frame for international trade agreements.

The WTO has no specific agreement dealing with the environment. However, the WTO agreements confirm governments’ right to protect the environment, provided certain conditions are met, and a number of them include provisions dealing with environmental concerns. 

A Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) entered into force in 1996, as an Annex to the WTO Agreement. It is a plurilateral agreement, characterised by a narrower group of signatories than general WTO agreements.

The GPA itself does not contain any reference to environmental protection. However, the Preamble to the WTO Agreement recognises the need to act in accordance with the principle of sustainable development and to protect and preserve the environment. Therefore, it is broadly accepted that the GPA allows contracting entities to take into account environmental considerations when defining technical specifications (including process and production methods), selection and award criteria, on condition that they are not discriminatory, and are sufficiently objective and verifiable.

For more information: WTO Government Procurement Agreement.