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Capacity Building for Sustainable Public Procurement in Developing Countries

September 2009

Quarterly Newsletter

Issue #01


Farid Yaker Eveline Venanzoni

Eveline Venanzoni and Farid Yaker

Welcome to the first newsletter from the Swiss led Marrakech Task Force on Sustainable Public Procurement and the Sustainable Public Procurement team of the United Nations Environment Programme.

We’re delighted to be able to share with you some of our work to date, and to have the opportunity to explain a little bit more about who we are and what we do.

As someone who works in the field of sustainable procurement we’re sure you’ll appreciate how important it is to have a global platform for better engagement. It’s therefore a great honour to be able to lead this important work with all the parties involved in procurement at this critical time for both people and planet.

If you would like more information please don’t hesitate to contact us directly on the number below.

Many thanks and best wishes,

Eveline Venanzoni
Chair of the Swiss led Marrakech Task Force on Sustainable Public Procurement (MTF on SPP)
Swiss Federal Office for the Environment

Farid Yaker
Programme Officer
Division of Technology, Industry and Economics
United Nations Environment Programme

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What is Sustainable Public Procurement?


“Sustainable Procurement is a process whereby organizations meet their needs for goods, services, works and utilities in a way that achieves value for money on a whole life basis in terms of generating benefits not only to the organization, but also to society and the economy, whilst minimizing damage to the environment.”
Procuring the Future – the report of the UK Sustainable Procurement Task Force, June 2006.This definition has been adopted by the Swiss-led Marrakech Task Force on Sustainable Public Procurement

Public procurement will be sustainable when procurement officers include sustainability issues at all stages of the procurement process - from the selection of suppliers to the management of contracts.

This implies new practices such as the screening of suppliers throughout the supply chain to check for compliance with labor laws and the insertion of social or ecological criteria into technical specifications in the bidding documents (e.g. lower emissions of vehicles, organic food or certified wood, compliance with labor laws).

Sustainable procurement is a means of implementing and delivering policy decisions. It can achieve improved efficiencies as well as innovations for sustainable development, and is a clear driver in changing the rules of the market place and delivering a green economy.

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Why Sustainable Public Procurement?

The fact that human beings across the planet face many social and environmental challenges (depleting resources, pollution, climate change, social inequalities and joblessness) is well known.

All are symptomatic of a need to consume and produce in a more sustainable way. To do this, there is an urgent need to engage with consumers and use their purchasing power as a means to deliver change.

Governments are major consumers of goods and services, with their purchasing power representing 15 to 25 % of GDP in most nations. Governments are therefore strong levers for change and have a duty to lead by example and make responsible decisions that support their policy agenda for creating a better, safer world.

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What is the Marrakech Task Force on Sustainable Public Procurement?

The Swiss-led Marrakech Task Force on Sustainable Public Procurement (MTF on SPP) is an international initiative that stems from the Marrakech Process. The Task Force promotes and supports the implementation of Sustainable Public Procurement practices in both developed and developing countries. Key activities of the Task Force are:

  • Promoting Sustainable Public Procurement through training and assistance;
  • Facilitating dialogue and work amongst stakeholders and countries on Sustainable Public Procurement.

The MTF on SPP has developed a specific methodology to implement Sustainable Public Procurement in both developed and developing countries known as the MTF Approach on SPP. Training sessions on this Approach are organized periodically by the Task Force or by UNEP.

The Marrakech Task Force Approach on Sustainable Public Procurement

MTF on SPP Approach

MTF on SPP Approach

So how does it work? First, pilot countries assess their procurement status through an online questionnaire (Status Assessment). Subsequently, a legal review is undertaken to identify the legislative framework for procurement in the country and to analyze the possibilities for integrating social and environmental criteria into procurement activities. The approach also foresees a country-based “Market Readiness Analysis” in order to define: (i) the existing productive capacities for Sustainable products and services in the pilot country (ii) the potential responsiveness of the market and the national business sector to potential Sustainable Public Procurement tenders.

After successful completion of this first phase, pilot countries should be able to develop a country-based Sustainable Public Procurement policy and to implement a capacity building programme for procurement officers. Experts from the United Nations Environment Programme as well as the Marrakech Task Force will assist the pilot country in going through all the steps and follow the implementation of Sustainable Public Procurement during one year.

The MTF Approach on SPP is currently being tested in 7 pilot countries (New Zealand, Tunisia, Chile, Uruguay, Costa Rica, Mexico and Mauritius).

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What is the United Nations Environment Programme doing to support Sustainable Public Procurement?


The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is leading a worldwide drive to improve modes of production and consumption, through the Marrakech process.

In 2008, the Swiss government and UNEP established a partnership to implement the MTF methodology in up to 14 countries worldwide. As a result, a UNEP project entitled “Capacity building for Sustainable Public Procurement in developing countries” was designed and launched in January 2009 with the support of the European Commission and the Swiss Government.

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What is the SPP project about?


The SPP project promotes capacity building and provides support for the development of Sustainable Public Procurement policies in 7 pilot countries: New Zealand, Mexico, Costa Rica, Tunisia, Uruguay, Chile and Mauritius.

These countries are expected to test the approach developed by the Swiss-led Marrakech Task Force on Sustainable Public Procurement.

The project also foresees the organization of training sessions for procurers at regional level and in pilot countries. The lessons learned from the project will serve to improve the methodology and will help to embed sustainable public procurement in other countries.

A final report summarizing the results of the project and lessons to be learnt will be presented by the Marrakech Task Force on SPP to the final session of the Commission for Sustainable Development dedicated to Sustainable Consumption and Production (New York, 2011).

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What have been our achievements to date?


Since February 2009, ‘start-up missions’ have been organized in Mauritius, Mexico, Costa Rica, Uruguay and Tunisia with the following objectives:

  • To officially launch the project
  • To establish institutional frameworks (National Focal Points, Steering Committees, etc.) and,
  • To clarify the project modalities and goals.

Public Procurement Authorities or specific divisions of the ministries of Environment were designated as National Focal Points and have been entrusted with the implementation of the pilot projects.

A further result of start-up missions was the establishment of Steering Committees in charge of supervising and monitoring National Focal Points and project activities. These Committees are composed of representatives of the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Industry and various other relevant stakeholders.

Start-up missions have also led to the identification of support organizations/consultants that will assist the National Focal Points in the implementation of the project. A group of 76 experts from over 20 countries have been trained on the Marrakech Task Force Approach on Sustainable Public Procurement during regional training workshops organized in Paris (April 2009), Santiago (May 2009) and Mexico (July 2009).

An awareness raising workshop on Sustainable Public Procurement, attended by 25 representatives from various Arab countries, was also organized in Cairo on 4-6 May 2009 by the League of Arab States and UNEP.

For more information on the Mexico training events you can visit the website of the Red de Producción y Consumo Sustenable.
To read about the current procurement situation in various regions/countries, visit our Documents and Resources page.

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Latest news from pilot countries

  • Costa Rica has designated the NGO Eco Global as implementing organization;
  • Chile has sent its official commitment letter in June 2009 and has become the 6th pilot country;
  • Mauritius has filled in the Status assessment and has launched its Request for Proposals for the Market readiness study in July 2009
  • Tunisia has designated its National focal point and has set up its Steering committee in July 2009.

Further information will be added to our website

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Who are we?


From left to right: Farid Yaker, Evenline Venanzoni, Isabella Marras, Helga Lahmann, Victoria Beláustegui and Carlos Andrés Enmanuel

Mr. Farid Yaker from UNEP’s Sustainable UN unit is managing the project.

Other team members are Mr. Carlos Andrés Enmanuel (project assistant) and Ms. Helga Lahmann (intern).

Ms. Victoria Belaustegui from UNEP’s regional office for Latin America and the Caribean provides support in the LAC region.

Ms. Barbara Morton is the main trainer and as MTF senior expert also provides support to National focal points (in charge of country implementation).

An advisory board has been established with representatives from UNEP DTIE (Ms. Isabella Marras), FOEN (Ms. Eveline Venanzoni), European Commission, MTF senior experts.

For more information click here.

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Further information and next steps


Training workshops on SPP for Francophone and Asian countries are scheduled for November and December 2009. The Francophone workshop should be organized with the Francophone Agency in Tunisia while the Asian workshop should be organized with the International Green Procurement Network in Malaysia

The Marrakesh Task Force and UNEP are always looking for new partners in the existing pilot countries as well as in new countries to work with. If you are interested please do get in touch directly.

We look forward to hearing from you soon and will be in touch again before the end of the year with a further update.

Best wishes

Farid Yaker
Program Officer
+ 33 (0) 1 44 37 76 34

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