Procuring Green in the Public Sector: A checklist for getting started

By Oshani Perera on April 9, 2011

The IISD checklist for green procurement is designed to help procurers who are seeking to launch or improve sustainability practices within their procurement policies.

It covers a wide range of macro- and organization-level intelligence, along with the questions that need to be asked to move from a "value for money" to a "value for money across the life cycle" culture in public procurement. The checklist includes 21 elements, which together lay out a path to success in sustainable public procurement.

There are several challenges and opportunities in different cycles of the procurement cycle. On a legislative level, laws need to allow, or even mandate, sustainable procurement. In the absence of formal legislation, soft laws and policies can still provide legitimization as an often cheaper and easier to implement method. The process and method of procurement also harnesses much potential for improving SPP. The level of decentralization and outsourcing, as well as the division of capital and revenue budgets, can all be structured in a way that facilitates, and even incentivizes, procurers to buy green. Similarly, the e-procurement method can allow for environmental and social screening criteria that facilitate tender design and award processes toward SPP.

Purchasing implies costs and budgets, which are often accounted for in the short-term, while SPP requires a whole life cycle approach. It is possible, though, to organize legislation and policies so that life-cycle costing is encouraged and that a more long-term focused strategy is embedded in the procurement culture. What can help to achieve this objective is the integration of environmental and social dimensions into supplier qualification and appraisal. It is equally crucial to monitor and enforce contracts once a supplier is selected. Besides maintaining some fundamental understandings of public procurement, such as equal treatment and transparency, maintaining a dialogue with suppliers and providing for the ongoing skill development of procurers, some specific interventions may be necessary, for example with regards to purchasing from small- and medium-sized enterprises.

Report details

Public Procurement
Focus area
Act Together
IISD, 2011