What is Sustainable Public Procurement?

“Sustainable Procurement is a process whereby organisations 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 organisation, but also to society and the economy, whilst minimising damage to the environment.”*

Sustainable Procurement seeks to achieve the appropriate balance between the three pillars of sustainable development i.e. economic, social and environmental.

  • Economic factors include the costs of products and services over their entire life cycle, such as: acquisition, maintenance, operations and end-of-life management costs (including waste disposal) in line with good financial management;
  • Social factors include social justice and equity; safety and security; human rights and employment conditions;
  • Environmental factors include emissions to air, land and water, climate change, biodiversity, natural resource use and water scarcity over the whole product life cycle.

*Definition adopted by the Task Force on Sustainable Public Procurement led by Switzerland (membership includes Switzerland, USA, UK, Norway, Philippines, Argentina, Ghana, Mexico, China, Czech Republic, State of Sao Paolo (Brazil), UNEP, IISD, International Labor Organization (ILO), European Commission (DG-Environment) and International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) and adopted in the context of the Marrakech Process on Sustainable Production and consumption led by UNEP and UN DESA