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Buying power can move the needle towards circularity

10 September 2019

Nowadays, 7.6 billion people live on earth, according to forecasts, this is expected to grow to 10 billion people by 2050. If we don’t change our approach to natural resources use, and don’t reduce the level of our consumption, we will need the equivalent of 2.5 to 3.5 globes worth of natural resources by 2050! It is clear that cities need to take action to avoid such exploitation of natural resources, and one solution may be the use of circular procurement.

Circular procurement is known as a different way of acquiring goods and services that promotes consideration of the whole lifecycle of products throughout their supply chain. A focus on the use and services provided by a product instead of the ownership catalyses the development of new business models, which are expected to be necessary to promote a circular economy.

Circular Public Procurement (Circular PP) is a 3 year project supported by the Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme with the main goal to develop an adequate framework for circular procurement in the countries belonging to the Baltic Sea Region. Learn more about the project's activities and outcomes such as infographics about circular procurement.

Call for Innovative Financing Solutions for Sustainable Cities in Europe

5 September 2019

The City Finance Lab (CFL) 2nd call for proposals is finally open. The EU-supported City Finance Lab created this new opportunity to fund innovative financing solutions for sustainable cities.

The CFL is calling on interested cities, city and financial networks, utilities, financial institutions, and any other municipal finance practitioner to

Now more than ever before, cities must be prepared to deal with the risks and impacts of climate change by moving to more sustainable, zero-carbon and resilient pathways. Through the City Finance Lab, we enable the deployment of city finance solutions in such a way that is joined up, scaled up, and adds up to actions and initiatives that keep us well within the 2 ˚C global warming threshold," says Teodora Virban, Project Manager, City Finance Lab, EIT Climate-KIC.


The  call for proposals runs until 31st October 2019 and finalists will be announced by mid-December 2019. Proponents of selected ideas will receive up to EUR 75,000 in-kind support to develop their proposals through technical advisory from city finance experts. Selected proponents will also have the opportunity to showcase their plans to potential partners and investors to promote investments in critical urban climate mitigation, adaptation and resilience projects in European cities. 


More information available here.

Procura+ participant Zurich wins Swiss ethical procurement award

4 September 2019

Solidar Suisse, a Swiss development NGO, honoured Procura+ participant Zurich for its fair and ethical procurement practice. The NGO rated 87 Swiss local governments and highlighted Zurich’s procurement as exemplary.

This is the third time in a row that the city is acknowledged for its efforts to support developing countries through its procurement by Solidar Suisse. Solidar Suisse pointed out that through its work Zurich takes a leading role among German-speaking Swiss communities.

For many years, the City of Zurich is striving to include social and environmental criteria in its tenders. Most recently, the city awarded a contract to supply uniforms for the public transport provider and a contract for the supply of t-shirts for several city departments.

Both tenders accounted for the fact that cotton production is associated with high water consumption, often in places that suffer from water scarcity. They required suppliers to provide only products made from organic cotton, which uses up to 90% less water than standard cotton.

In addition, the City included several requirements that commit suppliers to fair and ethical working conditions along the entire supply chain. Suppliers need to prove that they adhere to global working standards for fair labour and wages, such as ILO standards. In addition, they need to show that they have insight into their entire supply chain. Supply chain transparency is key in assuring working conditions actually comply with labour standards.

The Procura+ interest group on socially responsible procurement is working on this and other topics connected to assuring fair and ethical working conditions along global supply chains. Find more information on the Procura+ website.

More information about Zurich’s awarded procurement practice can be found here (in German).

GPP to the rescue - tackling water scarcity and pollution

29 August 2019

Cities globally are facing issues of water scarcity and pollution. Day 0 is a reality that cities such as Cape Town or Sao Paulo must find solutions to. And dealing with marine litter such as microplastics is a challenge that not only affects marine ecosystems but the human food supply.


This year's World Water Week highlights not only the significance of these complex challenges but also discusses an array of actions towards managing our water resources in a regenerative and sustainable manner. For example on water governance or capacity building for public authorities to tackle water stress head-on.

This is where procurement comes in - leveraging green public procurement to improve for example a city's water supply-chain through regenerative imports, managing urban infrastructure such as the quality of the piping system or establishing circularity for plastic waste to prevent pollution.


ICLEI's procurement work in the field provides recommendations on how to connect innovation procurement with the water sector, how to create a water procurement strategy and how to use tools such as market engagement to support the process.


Learn more about other water projects ICLEI has been working on.

Green cities - the role of public procurement

26 August 2019

Earlier this month, London, UK, was acknowledged as the first National Park City - a commitment to making the city greener, healthier, and wilder. According to the National Park City Foundation, other cities such as Glasgow, Scottland are about to follow this pledge, scaling into a fast-growing movement.

 

Green places in cities bring a wide array of benefits from reducing air, water pollution, and flooding to absorbing carbon and cooling ever warmer cities. However, implementing green infrastructure over grey infrastructure is a complex challenge that needs buy-in at all different levels of the planning, design, contracting and delivering processes.

 

What can public procurement do in support?

The approach of Green Public Procurement (GPP) enables public procurers to leverage green criteria or specifications in tenders across sectors. The European Commission facilitates this approach through a set of GPP criteria. For example, on building design and construction, Green Infrastructure Public Procurement (GIPP) means to push for nature-based solutions that could include features such as green roofs and walls, habitats in courtyards and patios, Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) as part of landscaping, street trees and urban gardens.

 

 

Read more about how to get started with GPP and the business case for it: Buying Green Handbook

Access EC GPP Criteria here.

Learn more about National Park City.

Humanity biting the hand that feeds it says IPCC

15 August 2019

The latest IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) special report, released last week, repeats scientist’s warnings of the effects of accelerating climate change.  Along with climate change related risks such as heatwaves, extreme storms, and sea level rise, the experts also warn of the causes that a changing climate has on our ability to provide food for a growing population.

But farming is simultanously a victim and a culprit of climate change, because the way we use land is large contributer to the problem. Practices under criticism include deforestation, industrial agriculture, and draining of carbon-capturing peatlands. All the while, extreme heat, storms and soil erosion – all consequences of a changing climate – put agricultural land at risk.

A first step to tackle the issue, according to the report, is to reduce meat and animal product consumption. Animal farming, say the scientists, contributes in large part to the issue of degrading soils and increased CO2 emissions. Producing animal feed requires agricultural land, which often leads to deforestation in intensive farming practices; animal manure is used to over fertilize soils with runoffs into rivers and seas where algae bloom, and animals themselves are a source of the highly potent climate gas methane.

Changing diets is as key as it is difficult. But public canteens can opt to offer more balanced diets that reduce the amount of meat, turning it from default to exception. A school in the Belgian city of Ottignies has shown how this can be done in collaboration with parents, eliminating food waste at the same time. The canteen operators studied the way the children consumed their food and developed meal plans that eliminate waste and increase the amount of plant based protein. This way, the canteen was able to reduce food waste from 20% of food offered to 10%.

If you want to learn more about public procurement’s option in reducing overall meat consumption, have a look at our resource centre.

Find the full report here.

Procura+ Awards finalists unveiled

13 August 2019

The jury of the 2019 Procura+ Awards has revealed the eight finalists of this edition. For the category ‘Sustainable Procurement of the Year’, the Government of Catalonia with its sustainable framework contract for cleaning services will compete with the City of Ghent for its work in partnership with suppliers for responsible workwear.

The Municipality of Frederiksberg and the City of Helsinki will contest for the ‘Innovation Procurement of the Year’ Award. Frederiksberg needed to reduce the load on its existing drain network and used an innovation partnership to develop customised solutions for cloudburst management, whereas the City of Helsinki presented its sustainable innovation for a retro stadium upgrade.  The ‘Outstanding Innovation Procurement in ICT’ Award will go to either the City of Helsinki for robotisation and automation of library services or CERN for its open cloud data storage innovation through pre-commercial procurement.

Finally, the City of Zurich and IHOBE are competing for ‘Procurement Initiative of the Year’. The Swiss city applied with its initiative to use recycled concrete in buildings. IHOBE grabbed the interest of the jury with its deployment of a green purchasing programme among the Basque public sector.

The Procura+ Awards ceremony will take place on September 24 at the Nordic Edge Expo, when the finalists will find out if they have won in their categories.

For more information on the 2019 awards, visit the Procura+ Awards webpage.

Barcelona tenders towards a sustainable bus fleet

8 August 2019

Last year, the City of Barcelona won the 2018 Procura+ Award in the category ‘Procurement Initiative of the Year’. The Award recognized the ambitious agenda to implement city-wide compulsory sustainable procurement. This has an effect on more than 50,000 tenders annually, covering a spend of €1.1bn.

Looking at public transport as an example of sustainable procurement, recent purchasing activities of the Procura+ Participant show that the initiative of sustainable procurement bears fruit. Earlier this month the TMB published a tender for 23 e-buses and 6 minibuses, all rigorously zero-emission.

The tender is part of a bigger agenda namely to improve the quality of the environment and achieve healthier cities as set out in the 2019-2021 Bus Fleet Renewal Plan. The programme involves an investment of 115 million euros and the acquisition of 254 new buses of which 116 will be electric buses. Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB) aims to renew the vehicles of the current fleet that have arrived at the end of their useful life after more than 15 years of service. The new vehicles will be delivered according to a timeline that should be concluded in 2021.

Rosa Alarcón, President of TMB, has stated that “With this tender, we reaffirm our commitment to make public surface transport a more sustainable transport for the whole city and that it must allow us to adapt to the new mobility needs posed by pollution and global warming.”

Learn more about the Procura+ Network and how to get involved.

Tackling urban heatwaves - when procurement becomes an emergency

6 August 2019

The global climate crisis leads to more frequent and more intense heatwaves in Europe, posing a great threat to health of citizens, supply-chains and infrastructure. In response to the urgent need to adapt to the ‘new-normal’, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies recently published 'Heatwaves - Guide for Cities'. The guide aims to help city staff take the first steps to understanding the heat risks they face, develop an early-warning system, work with partners to consolidate heat-action plans, and adapt urban-planning practices.

However, awareness and implementation of solutions need to go beyond planning, risk managing and public health per se. How can procurement help? Can products and services be tendered based on their heat-resilience?

An article from 2018 on CIPS, emphasised the need to change procurement rules to '... not spend public money on infrastructure which is not resilient to heatwaves.' For example, this is critical for highways, other public roads and pavements, which are at risk of melting in the heat. Leveraging procurement as adaptation measure could mean to source heat resilient (e.g. reflective or permeable) material for when roads are being re-surfaced - offering a coping mechanism in high-risk areas. This applies also to energy infrastructure, particularly where it serves critical social services, such as hospitals.

Procurement can help through the purchasing of energy-efficient medical devices, which are not only advantageous in terms of resilience but also a gain for carbon footprint reduction. Passive cooling strategies for buildings, and access to diverse sources of renewable energy, also have a crucial role to play in reducing the risk of energy supply failure during a heatwave – ideally as part of an overall Energy Management System.

Access the full Guide for Cities here.

Let's take a closer look: performance in public procurement across the EU

10 July 2019

The European Commission published the annual report on Monitoring the Application of EU law, which outlines how the Commission monitored and enforced EU law in 2018. Part of the report is the online Single Market Scoreboard, which evaluates the performance of EU/EEA countries in the EU single market. Depending on their 2018 performance across the key policy areas, Member States were given 153 green, 137 yellow and 59 red cards indicating excellent (green), average (yellow) or below average (red) performance.

One of the key policy areas is public procurement. Taking a closer look at the analysis of procurement performance show the scoring of member states with regards to 12 indicators. For example, measuring the proportion of procurement procedures with more than one public buyer - meaning how often public buyers buy together. Buying in bulk often leads to better prices and offers an opportunity to exchange knowledge. Although not all types of purchase are suitable for joint procurement, excessively low rates suggest lost opportunities. ICLEI together with Eurocities runs the Big Buyers Initiative with the aim to boost collaboration between big public buyers towards more strategic public procurement. 


The scoring analysis also took into account the proportion of procedures awarded only on the basis of lowest price i.e. how public buyers choose the companies they award contracts to. In particular, whether they decide based on price alone, or if they also take quality into account. Award criteria offer a suitable entry point to leverage, for example, certain environmental standards. From the perspective of sustainable procurement or green procurement needs to and can change from the lowest price to the most economical advantageous price, which takes into account the full life-cycle costs. Find out more in ICLEI's Procura+ Manual.


An additional indicator focussed on how many contractors are small and medium-sized enterprises – SMEs. High percentages are desirable, in order to reflect their share in the economy, whereas low percentages could indicate barriers preventing smaller firms from participating in procurement procedures. A recent survey published by the Commission showed that 73,5% of PCP contracts are won by SMEs, emphasising that pre-commercial procurement and innovation procurement can help boost the performance under the SME indicator. ICLEI works on a variety of projects across Europe to accelerate the uptake of innovation in procurement such as Procure2Innovate. Find out more here.  

Get the full analysis of public procurement performance here.
Access the fact sheets per country here.