Challenging public purchasing to act on environmental and social responsibility.
In a first of its kind collaboration, a group of third party environmental and sustainability certifications have joined forces to challenge the public sector to become more socially and environmentally responsible in their purchasing practices. The initiative coincides with the publication of EU’s expanded directive for public purchasing. The new directive expands opportunities to include environmental and social aspects when using public funds to buy goods and services. In EU, public purchasing accounts for around 200 billion Euro annually.
We think the time to act is now if we are to reach our goals related to the environment, climate and global poverty. Whoever wins the elections this fall will inherit a serious responsibility for driving our society in a more sustainable direction. This is why we have come together to challenge those of you in the public sector to set a goal that by 2020, at least 50 percnet of all products purchased by the public sector should carry a third party certification that focuses on environmental and social responsibility.
Current procurement legislation has in some ways hindered including environmental and social aspects. Instead, the focus has been on providing detailed information about individual environmental, chemical, energy or social criteria specific to a particular product, along with information on how to follow up each criterion.
Now there’s a new opportunity. The EU Directive now makes it possible for buyers to directly specify particular third party environmental and social certifications in their bids. By doing so, buyers can be assured of a broad scope of criteria, expert knowledge and compliance verification that each certification includes.
Make use of these programs. They are effective tools that are helping to solve some of our greatest sustainability challenges.
- Reaching EU:s and individual countries (i e Sweden’s) national targets for environmental quality, 2020. The Swedish goals outline specific, long term sustainability objectives to benefit future generations, including clean air, healthy living- and natural environments. Right now the outlook for reaching each of these goals is grim.
- Reaching national climate goals by 2050. The target is that Sweden, as an example,will have zero net greenhouse gas emissions. This will require a phase-out of fossil fuels as well as greater energy efficiency. Today global greenhouse gas emissions are, in fact, on the rise.
- Reaching the goal for fair global development. Fair trade through public procurement makes it possible to improve working and living conditions for millions of people in regions of the world with widespread poverty. Society as a whole must act in order to reach this target.
What the public sector needs to do
- Bring your purchasing program in line with today’s challenges. Train your team to include social and environmental factors.
- Work across political party lines. Create purchasing alliances to ensure long term focus.
- Make specific purchasing criteria that refer to third party environmental and social certifications. Prioritize quality, environment, innovation and social responsibility aspects in all contracts.
Mrs Eva Eiderström, Manager, Good Environmental Choice, Swedish Nature Conservation Society, Sweden
Mr Ragnar Unge, Managing Director, Ecolabelling Sweden, EU Ecolabel och The Nordic Swan
Ms Magdalena Steijffert, Secretary General at Fairtrade Sweden
Mr Lars Nellmer, Managing Director, KRAV-label, Sweden
Ms Minna Epps, Manager, MSC Baltic Region.Mr Sören Enholm, Managing Director, TCO Development