|Adjienim Boaterng Adjei
Sustainable public procurement (SPP) has emerged as a powerful way to stimulate more sustainable consumption and production patterns for society at large. This brief examines the reasons behind the current drive towards sustainable public procurement, and the barriers that have to be overcome in order to implement it. A significant share of the world’s GDP is associated with expenditures by governments. On average, total public expenditures by central and local governments (including consumption and investment expenditures) are estimated to account for about 20% of GDP in OECD countries, and roughly 15% in non-OECD countries. Subtracting compensation to public employees, public procurement is estimated to represent 6% to 10% of GDP depending on countries. In addition, in some sectors, domestic government procurement tends to be the single most important source of sales (e.g. defence-, health- and research-related industries) or one of the most important (e.g. construction, energy, transport equipment). There are however significant differences between countries in the ranking of most other sectors and the size of public procurement market shares. For instance, purchases of office equipment in Canada by public authorities represented over one-third of total demand in the beginning of the nineties, but less than 5% in Japan or Austria.
Governments have increasingly become involved in making their procurement “greener” or more sustainable. While green procurement and sustainable procurement refer to different concepts (see Box 1), the underlying idea is the same: to use public procurement in order to achieve desirable environmental and, in the case of sustainable public procurement, social outcomes.
Keywords: Public Procurement, Sustainable Consumption, Production Patterns