Green Public Procurement
Green Public Procurement (GPP) is defined in the Communication (COM (2008) 400) “Public procurement for a better environment” as "a process whereby public authorities seek to procure goods, services and works with a reduced environmental impact throughout their life cycle when compared to goods, services and works with the same primary function that would otherwise be procured.” Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP) can be environmental, social or economic benefits and takes into account materials used, production, distribution, use, disposal, reuse and recycling.
A core theme of GPP is getting value for the money spent on a product or works over time. The key to GPP is ensuring the products or services purchased have the smallest environmental impact through every stage of life cycle.
Expenditures in the public sector are responsible for 17% of the GDP of the EU and public expenditures account for as high as 43% in India and 47% in Brazil. These figures illustrate the great potential for a “greening” of the economy through GPP. Harnessing this enormous purchasing power to leverage the delivery of green, clean and equitable alternatives would mean treading a straight road towards a sustainable future.
Launched in 2003, the Marrakech Process is a 10 year framework to assist countries, corporations and consumers green their lifestyles and development processes. The Process has seven task forces, voluntary initiatives led by governments that target various issues related to the goals of the Marrakech Process. As part of this framework the Marrakech Task Force on Sustainable Public Procurement was formed. Launched by the country of Switzerland and in close coordination with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), this Task Force seeks to promote sustainable public procurement to further the goals of the Marrakech Process. Their activities include development of guidance measures and toolkits, policy research and promotion of GPP through training and assistance.
TheEuropean Union (EU) has a large amount of purchasing power and has a stated goal of using this towards environmentally sound investments. The EU encourages Member States to create National Action Plans for GPP. National Action plans contain a review of the current situation, targets for the next three years and how they will be obtained. This allows members states to choose a course of action that best suits their political framework. Member States adopt specific guidelines for their National Action Plans. The EU also provides a GPP training toolkit to help facilitate adoption of GPP practices in three modules: political strategy, legal and operational. The EU has guidelines on how to integrate environmental criteria at each stage of the process.
GPP in the Road Sector
The road sector is an active and important part of GPP implementation. Road construction and maintenance is usually accompanied with heavy environmental impacts, but application of GPP principles can help offset the impacts in this vital sector. Developing economies around the world require roads to facilitate economic and social growth, making it all the more important to minimize environmental risks as these economies continue to develop. The International Road Federation works closely with its large member base to promote GPP. IRF guides members onto sustainable courses of development and pushes for innovation in products and techniques that are in line with GPP criteria. To promote GPP, IRF organized a study day devoted to the topic. The IRF Environment Committee also incorporates GPP and SPP into their work.
The Business Case for GPP and SPP
SPP and GPP require a thorough review of procurement procedures, including setting specifications, determining award criteria and drafting contracts. This will bring to light opportunities for time, efficiency and transparency improvements. They provide governments with a policy instrument to build green domestic industries and steer markets toward sustainable consumption.