UN launches sustainable procurement initiative at Earth Summit

22 June 2012

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22 June 2012 | Kamalpreet Badasha

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has launched an initiative calling on governments to use public sector procurement for sustainable practices.

The International Sustainable Public Procurement Initiative (SPPI) – launched yesterday at the Earth Summit being held in Brazil – has already been signed by more than 30 governments and institutions, including Ecuador, Switzerland, China, the Monetary Union of West Africa and Eco-Institut Barcelona.

The SPPI is a voluntary initiative which asks governments to support sustainable practices through regulations and frameworks. Public procurement represents between 15 and 25 per cent of worldwide GDP, according to the UNEP. Examples of sustainable public procurement include Japan’s ‘green purchasing policy’ which contributed to the economy’s growth and was estimated to be worth £345 billion in 2010. And in Vienna the local authority’s ‘EcoBuy’ programme saved £36 million between 2001 and 2007. Brazil has increased the number of public procurement contracts with sustainable criteria by 94 per cent from 2010 to 2011.

The SPPI aims to increase awareness of sustainable public procurement with reports, analysis and proposing innovative solutions to participants.

“The SPP initiative offers governments the opportunity to lead by example by harnessing their purchasing power to drive markets towards a greener, more innovative and more sustainable path,” said UN under-secretary general and UNEP executive director Achim Steiner.

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