June 20, 2012


Rio De Janeiro — A new international initiative to fast track a global transition to a green economy by harnessing the market-shifting power of government and local authority spending was announced today at Rio+20, by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and partners.

Supported by over 30 governments and institutions, the International Sustainable Public Procurement Initiative (SPPI) aims to scale-up the level of public spending flowing into goods and services that maximize environmental and social benefits.

Studies indicate that sustainable public procurement, which represents between 15 and 25 per cent of GDP, offers a tremendous opportunity towards green innovation and sustainability.

Examples from around the world show that sustainable public procurement has the potential to transform markets, boost the competitiveness of eco industries, save money, conserve natural resources and foster job creation.

Across the OECD group of countries, public procurement represents close to 20 per cent of GDP (over US $4,733 billion annually), while in developing countries the proportion can be slightly higher.

In India, for example, government procurement is worth about US $300 billion and is expected to grow by more than 10 per cent annually in the coming years.

Japan’s Green Purchasing Policy, has contributed to the growth of the country’s eco-industries, estimated to be worth about -430 billion in 2010.

The city of Vienna saved -44.4 million and over 100,000 tonnes of CO2 between 2001 and 2007 through its EcoBuy programme.

Europe could save up to 64 per cent of energy – or 38 TWh of electricity – by replacing street lights with smarter lighting solutions.

In Hong Kong, replacing incandescent traffic lights with LED generated savings of US $240,000 over the lifespan of LED modules, which also allow for projected annual savings of 7.88 million KWh of electricity and a reduction of 5,500 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

In Brazil, the Foundation for Education Development succeeded in saving 8,800 m3 of water, 1,750 tonnes of waste and 250 kg of organohalogen compounds, providing the equivalent of one month economic activity to 454 waste pickers, through its decision to replace regular notebooks with ones made of recycled paper in 2010

The new SPP initiative seeks to back the worldwide implementation of sustainable public procurement by promoting a better understanding of its potential benefits and impacts and facilitating increased cooperation between key stakeholders.

UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner, said: “Sustainable public procurement is a key enabling instrument for countries that want to make the transition towards a green economy.”

“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.”

He added, “The SPP initiative will push the process forward towards the creation of robust regulatory frameworks and collaboration between North and South; public institutions and the businesses sector at an early stage of the process.”

“We hope the initiative receives full support at Rio+20 and that more countries and organizations commit to join and contribute to its success.”

The initiative has to date been endorsed by: Brazil, Switzerland, Ecuador, The Francophonie, Chile, Denmark, the Netherlands, Mauritius, Costa Rica, China, New Zealand, Lebanon,and organizations such as OAS, SEMCo, ITC-ILO, UNOPS, the Forest Stewardship Council, Eco-Institut Barcelona, IISD, the Economic and Monetary Union of West Africa and the International Green Purchasing Network.

SPP has been recognized as a priority theme by all regions and is currently being implemented in many developed and emerging countries:

In Brazil, the Central Purchasing System already contains more than 550 sustainable products. At the same time, the value of procurement contracts that integrate sustainability criteria increased by 94 per cent from 2010 to 2011.

The EU adopted an objective of 50 per cent green public procurement for a list of 20 product groups.

While in the US, President Obama signed an Executive order in 2009, requiring that 95 per cent of all applicable procurement contracts at the Federal level must meet sustainability requirements.

The SPPI objectives include:

Building the case for sustainable public procurement by improving awareness of SPP tools; developing biennial progress reports on SPP implementation, analysing barriers, and proposing innovative solutions.

Supporting SPP implementation through increased South-South and North-South cooperation, and enhancing public-private collaboration.

UNEP has developed significant expertise and a successful track-record in implementing sustainable public procurement policies and action plans across 7 pilot countries in cooperation with the Swiss-led Marrakech Task Force on SPP. This has allowed the accumulation of experience and know-how in regards to the design of SPP policies in emerging and developing countries.