Sustainable Public Procurement
What is public procurement? It is the purchase by governments and state-owned enterprises of goods, services and works.
However, public procurement decisions are still dominated by lowest price at the time of purchase rather than awarding contracts based on value-for-money across the life cycle of a solution. This is a missed opportunity for creating society-wide benefits and fostering the transition to sustainable and circular economies.
Governments spend on average between 12 and 30 per cent of their GDP for procuring goods, services and infrastructure. This enormous purchasing power needs to be reformed to ensure that the state is buying the most sustainable solutions to address today’s challenges. This is also highlighted by SDG Target 12.7. Procurement is a powerful tool for developing new markets, fostering innovation and transitioning from the ownership of goods and assets to a service economy, featuring distributed models of use and ownership.
Procurers need to take on a strategic role and adopt life cycle and systemic thinking when making procurement decisions. This holds particularly true for the procurement of infrastructure assets, which have long lifespans and lock in technologies, and thus have long-lasting social, economic and environmental impacts.
IISD provides policy advice, research and training to implement sustainable public procurement. We work closely with policy-makers, international donors, multilateral development banks and NGOs to design policies, programs and technical assistance that address a wide spectrum of topics. Some of our ongoing work and implemented projects are:
Using the Sustainable Asset Valuation (SAVi) to provide quantitative evidence on the multiple financial, economic, social and environmental gains that can be realized through sustainable public procurement.
We invite you to explore our work, including:
- Handbooks on Sustainable Public Procurement and capacity building for the Inter-American Network for Government Procurement
- Advice to municipal and provincial level governments in the Western Cape, South Africa on moving toward performance-based specifications in public procurement
- A three-year program on implementing Green Public Procurement in Bhutan
- Advice to the European Climate Foundation on the role of public procurement and innovation in the European Union for low-carbon infrastructure
- Research on the Role of Public Procurement in Deploying Sustainable Infrastructure
We also serve on several working groups and are engaged in a number of associations: OECD Leading Practitioners on Public Procurement, UNEP 10YFP Sustainable Public Procurement Programme – Working Group on Sustainable Infrastructure, UNCITRAL Working Groups on Procurement and PPPs, Green Public Procurement Expert Group of the European Commission´s Directorate-General for Environment, International Green Purchasing Network (IGPN), Inter-American Network on Government Procurement (INGP), Circular Economy Leadership Coalition, Innovation Procurement Working Group of the European Commission`s Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW).
Plastic Waste in Canada: A daunting economic and environmental threat or an opportunity for sustainable public procurement?
This commentary explores how sustainable public procurement can play a crucial role in advancing environmental and economic sustainable development in Canada's waste sector.Read More
Modelling for Sustainable Development: New decisions for a new age
This book provides a detailed overview of models used in designing projects and policies that integrate sustainable development considerations and objectives.Read More
An Application of the Sustainable Asset Valuation (SAVi) Methodology to Pelly's Lake and Stephenfield Reservoir, Manitoba, Canada
This report provides a valuation of the ecosystem services in Stephenfield Reservoir and Pelly's Lake in Manitoba, Canada.Read More
Measuring the Benefits of Green Public Procurement in Canada: Evidence from the IISD GPP Model
The IISD GPP Model demonstrates that green public procurement has significant benefits for the Canadian taxpayer.Read More
How Can Public Procurement in Canada’s Trade Agreements Contribute to Sustainable Development?
Imagine this: A municipality pledges to make all of its buildings carbon-neutral by 2050.To do so, it needs to invest in renovations using the most...Read More
Canada's International Trade Obligations: Barrier or opportunity for sustainable public procurement?
This paper explores the extent to which international trade agreements could pose a barrier to sustainable procurement or, conversely, enable sustainability to take a more prominent role in the procurement process.Read More
Sustainable Asset Valuation (SAVi) of the Contournement de Rabat (Morocco)
IISD has carried out an economic and financial assessment of different risk scenarios of the contournement de Rabat, the bypass road in Morocco. The assessment included the valuation of different externalities related to the road project.Read More
Sustainable Asset Valuation Tool: Natural infrastructure
Technical background document for the IISD's Sustainable Asset Valuation tool (SAVi) for natural infrastructure.Read More
Leveraging Sustainable Finance Leadership in Canada: Opportunities to align financial policies to support clean growth and a sustainable Canadian economy
Our policy roadmap shares how mandatory climate risk disclosure and actions by the Canadian government and financial actors can empower meaningful climate action.Read More
Lake Dal in Srinagar, India: Application of the Sustainable Asset Valuation (SAVi) methodology for the analysis of conservation options
The report presents the interim results of the SAVi analysis for developing the business case for the long-term conservation of Lake Dal in Srinagar, India.Read More