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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 Marrakech Task Force on SPP

Marrakech Task Force on SPP

The Marrakech Task Force on Sustainable Public Procurement (MTF on SPP) is an international initiative to promote sustainable public procurement in developing and developed countries. It was launched by the government of Switzerland in 2005, as one of seven Task Forces under the Marrakech Process on Sustainable Consumption and Production, which is lead by UNEP and UNDESA.

The task force members, including governments from all continents and international organisations, have developed a specific methodology to enable governments to make their procurement more sustainable. To this end, the MTF on SPP promotes Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP) through training and assistance and facilitates dialogue and work amongst stakeholders and countries on SPP. The MTF on SPP has established a partnership with UNEP for the capacity building of developing countries on SPP.

For more information: Marrakech Task Force on Sustainable Public Procurement.

UNEP is the United Nations system’s designated entity for addressing environmental issues at the global and regional level. Its mandate is to coordinate the development of environmental policy consensus by keeping the global environment under review and bringing emerging issues to the attention of governments and the international community for action.

The United Nations Environment Programme has been for a long time a supporter of Sustainable Public Procurement by:

  • Facilitating global consensus on the integration of sustainable development considerations in procurement at all levels (UN; national governments and local authorities);
  • Fostering information exchange to have a wide number of organisations to benefit from the experience of the forerunners;
  • Providing practical tools for capacity-building to make sustainable procurement policies a reality.

This work has led to partnership with several international organisations, and to the organisation of awareness-raising events and training workshops on Sustainable Public Procurement. UNEP is also an active member of the Marrakech Task Force on Sustainable Public Procurement.

For more information: UNEP Sustainable Public Procurement page.

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

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.