Six European Cities will look for Artificial Intelligence solutions to move towards carbon neutrality

15 January 2020

Procura+ Participants Helsinki (Finland), Copenhagen (Denmark), Stavanger (Norway) as well as Paris Region (France), Amsterdam (Netherlands), and Tallinn (Estonia) have joined forces in AI4Cities, a new EU-funded project that will challenge companies to develop artificial intelligence (AI) solutions on the fields of energy and mobility. These solutions are aimed at reducing the cities’ greenhouse gas emissions and support them in meeting their climate change commitments.

Through AI4Cities (January 2020 to December 2022), these cities and regions, guided by ICLEI's procurement team, will go through a Pre-Commercial Procurement (PCP) process, an innovation procurement tool that enables the public sector to steer the development of new solutions directly towards its needs. First, the buying authorities will define the needs and requirements of those solutions on the energy and the mobility fields they would like to see developed in order to move towards carbon neutrality. Then, they will challenge startups, SMEs, bigger companies and other relevant stakeholders to design innovative solutions applying the use of AI and related enabling technologies, such as 5G, Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing and big data applications.

AI4Cities is divided into five main phases. During the preparation phase (Phase 0), the procuring cities will organise a series of activities – roundtables, workshops, and matchmaking events, amongst others – aimed at ensuring the open market consultation is an ambitious co-creation exercise. The PCP process will consist of a solution design phase (Phase 1), a prototype phase (Phase 2) and a prototype testing phase (Phase 3). AI4Cities will reach the supply side to select and fund a minimum of 40 contractors (20 for the energy challenge and 20 for the mobility challenge) who, during Phase 1, will present their reports with a concept design, results of their feasibility studies and conclusions. Then, a minimum of 20 contractors (ten for each of the two challenges) will be invited to develop their prototypes in Phase 2. Finally, a minimum of six contractors (three and three) will make it into Phase 3 where a series of larger scale pilots will be undertaken. To maximise the potential impact of the project, a group of cities will be recruited to follow the PCP process and support the uptake of the outcomes. The final stage (Phase 4) will focus on the implementation of the tested solutions.

The latest from International Green Purchasing Network

8 January 2020

The International Green Purchasing Network (IGPN), an organization committed to the promotion of green procurement around the globe, released its latest newsletter, providing an overview of key activities from 2019.

A key event that took place, was the Annual Meeting in Suzhou, China. During the meeting Mr. Chen Yanping was elected as the new IGPN Chairman. Mark Hidson, Global Director, ICLEI's Sustainable Procurement Centre, continues in the role of the IGPN vice chair. Representatives of Green Procurement Networks from different countries and regions shared their progress and achievements in the field of green procurement.

The Annual Meeting made clear that IGPN will tailor exchanges and communication on practices, tools and methods between developed and developing countries in global green procurement, promote the dissemination of green procurement, accelerate the solution of global environmental issues, and promote the realization of sustainable consumption and production goals.

In addition, the newsletter gives insight in procurement activities of IGPN members such as the launch of “RE Action – Declaring 100% Renewable. This campaign was jointly launched by the Green Purchasing Network (GPN), ICLEI Japan, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), and Japan Climate Leaders’ Partnership (JCLP) in October 2019. This initiative targets and supports local governments, educational and medical institutions, and small to medium-sized enterprises to declare conversion to 100% renewable energy.

Access the full newsletter here.

Learn more about IGPN here.

Flemish buyers go for fair and circular ICT!

17 December 2019

On 9 December, the ‘Conference on Fair & Circular ICT’ was hosted by the Procura+ Participant City of Ghent, organised by Fair ICT Flanders in collaboration with the project Make ICT Fair - in which ICLEI contributes with support to pilot procurements of fair ICT.
It was the first conference in Flanders to be entirely dedicated to the theme: “How can you, as an ICT buyer, do your bit towards a more sustainable world?” With 110 participants, the conference shows that the theme is very much alive among buyers, sustainability employees and ICT professionals from public institutions and private companies.

The power of responsible purchasing

The production of laptops, smartphones, and servers is accompanied by many human rights violations and has an enormous ecological impact. With this conference, Fair ICT Flanders want to provide concrete tools for large buyers of ICT hardware from the public and private sectors in Flanders. Through their purchasing policy, they can put pressure on the ICT companies and contribute to improving the local working and living conditions within the ICT supply chain.

Alain Linard, Head of Operations at Digipolis Gent indicated: “We want to use people’s tax money in a responsible way. We do not want to contribute to human rights violations through our purchases and thus assume our responsibility.”

Front-runners from the EU and Flanders presented their good examples and the participants were able to enter into a dialogue with the invited experts. Ideas and possibilities to work on fair and/or circular ICT were discussed at discussion tables. The participants went home with a lot of inspiration and new ideas.

Learn more about Fair ICT Flanders.
Learn more about ICLEI’s work in Make ICT Fair.


Toolkit on human rights for policy makers and public buyers released

13 December 2019

The Danish Institute for Human Rights has published a new Toolkit “Driving change through public procurement: A toolkit on human rights for policy makers and public buyers (road-testing version)”, exploring how public procurement policy makers, buyers & contract managers can implement requirements to support human rights along the supply chain.

In recent years, public procurement has increasingly been recognised as a means for states to fulfil their human rights obligations and as a means of realising sustainable development. Including requirements within public procurement that suppliers respect human rights can help prevent human rights abuses including modern slavery, child labour, human trafficking, and excessive working hours from occurring within state value chains and promote the rights of persons with disabilities, women and children, and economically disadvantaged minorities, for example.

The toolkit is designed to be a practical tool with a range good practice examples. It is published in a road-testing version and the publishers would like to hear whether the toolkit can be improved and whether there are more good practice examples to be highlighted.

Download the full toolkit here.

If you want to engage in the discussion and learn more about how to implement social standards in public procurement, you can follow the MakeICTFair project, that adresses fair labour conditions along ICT cupply chains, and join the Procura+ Interest Group on Socially Responsible Public Procurement of ICT.

Pre-Commercial Procurement helps Norwegian Ferries Run Emission-free

10 December 2019

In 2017, Sør-Trøndelag County Council in Norway decided to take action to lower the emissions of the public ferry services, in support of achieving the County’s climate goals. Six speedboats emit the same amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) as 1000 busses. In 2018-2019, together with 10 other Counties, Trøndelag conducted a pre-commercial procurement (PCP) to challenge the market to develop emission free high speed ferry boats. Five consortia delivered on the challenge and the Counties are now preparing to procure the new emission free boat services.

Five consortia started the competition beginning 2018: Brødrene Aa, NTNU Technology Transfer / Flying Foil, Rødne Trafikk AS, Transportutvikling AS and Selfa Arctic AS. The 5 consortia brought together a variety of expertise to come up with an end-to-end solution that tackles the problem from all angles: ship builders, designers, engineering companies, system integrators, energy companies, operators etc.

The five consortia came up with different ways to address the problem: they proposed different types and configurations of renewable electricity that ranged from pure battery to pure hydrogen to hybrid hydrogen / battery solutions. All solutions were so promising that they all made it through to the final testing in the summer of 2019.

The tests that were conducted in the summer of 2019 showed that it will indeed be possible for the Counties to buy emission free express boats in their upcoming call for tenders, some of which are already under preparation.

For more information about the PCP, click here.

Our demand for electric cars and smartphones is drying up the most arid place in the world

5 December 2019

The recent investigation ‘Devices draining the desert’ by Danwatch found that lithium extraction for the batteries in our computers, telephones and electric cars is using many of the scarce water resources that let indigenous peoples and animals inhabit the world’s driest desert – the Atacama.

Underneath the Atacama and adjoining salt flats, Chile is estimated to possess more than half of the world’s reserves of lithium - the light metal that is an essential ingredient in the batteries of our telephones and computers as well as the electric cars that are deemed essential for a green energy transition. With the soaring EV industry, the global lithium demand is expected to more than triple by 2025 and so a “white gold rush” is upon Chile and its neighbouring countries.

But extracting Atacama’s lithium entails pumping up massive amounts of the scarce water resources that have allowed indigenous peoples and animals to survive for thousands of years in this harsh environment. And according to researchers, it already causes lasting harm to the fragile ecosystem of the world’s driest place.

In the Atacama and elsewhere in Chile, indigenous communities are now protesting current and future lithium extraction plans. Many communities claim they have never been consulted prior to the extraction projects, though Chilean authorities are obliged to do so according to international conventions ratified by the Chilean state. Danwatch can document that companies such as Samsung, Panasonic, Apple, Tesla and BMW get batteries from companies that use Chilean lithium.

Read more about the impacts on the indigenous communities here.
Read more about the impact on biodiversity here.
Read more about lithium supply-chains and companies involved here.

The Danwatch investigation was supported by the EU-funded project Make ICT Fair and published in collaboration with Setem.

Breaking Ground – Big Buyers Procurement Training leverages public purchasing for clean construction and EVs

3 December 2019

European cities are ready to take their public procurement to the next level. At an event in Oslo this week, frontrunner cities got together to make their procurement power count in the fields of circular construction, heavy duty electric vehicles and zero emission construction sites.

Over 40 cities, among them GLCN Cities Helsinki and Rotterdam, as well as Procura+ participants such as Zurich, and Haarlem, as well as leading cities such as Paris and Brussels, got together in Oslo on 28 and 29 November to build their capacity for innovation procurement, to share market engagement experiences, and to develop criteria for pilot procurements in the sectors mentioned above. This collaboration takes place thanks to the European Commission’s Big Buyers Initiative.

At the workshop, cities visited a zero-emission construction site where all construction machinery is powered by renewable-sourced electricity and a building renovation and expansion project in which nearly 70% of construction materials were reused. Rounding off the site visits, participants were transported by some of Oslo’s electric public buses. Oslo also shared a deep dive into how their environmental criteria for zero-emission transport and construction sites have been received by the market, which aligns with their target that by 2025 all publicly procured construction in the city must have a zero-emission site.

After a welcome from Ivo Locatelli of DG Grow, participants heard from innovative procurement experiences around the room: from a dynamic purchasing system for joint procurement by Copenhagen and Oslo, a buyer-supplier trust partnership model by Amsterdam, and procuring sustainable housing using LCA criteria by Helsinki. Procurers affirmed the available levers and procedures available to them to incentivise innovation, build trusting relationships with suppliers, and accelerate progress towards their environmental goals.

A session on dos and don’ts of market engagement highlighted a wide variety of experiences procuring innovative and sustainable solutions and also demonstrated the importance of close collaboration between buyers and suppliers to align their needs and ambitions. Going forward, participating cities will engage in further capacity building events and will give and receive feedback on their approaches and criteria for upcoming procurements in these fields.


The cities are part of the Big Buyers Initiative, a European Commission Initiative run by ICLEI and EUROCITIES, for promoting collaboration between big public buyers in implementing strategic public procurement to improve their cities’ sustainability and quality of life. They are united by their common ambitions to reduce CO2 emissions and minimise resource consumption. As part of the initiative, three working groups on circular construction materials, heavy-duty electric vehicles, and zero-emission construction sites were established.

For more information about the Big Buyers Initiative go here.


Procurement to localise the SDGs – New ICLEI guidance for towns and cities with 15 pathways

2 December 2019

ICLEI, alongside the City of Aalborg and the Basque Country, recently launched a new publication, which presents towns and cities with 15 pathways they can use to localise the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The publication, which was launched at the European Committee of the Regions during the 2019 Transformative Action Award ceremony, provides local governments with inspiring and replicable examples of how the 15 pathways of the Basque Declaration can be used to implement the SDGs at the local level.

Sustainable public procurement is featured as key mechanism for several pathways. For example, Pathway 6 “We will turn the challenges in front of us into opportunities for our local economies” features the cutting-edge work on food procurement of GLCN City and Procura+ Participant Ghent.

Geestland's procurement of LED street lighting as well as GLCN City and Procura+ Participant Rotterdam's customer-centred approach to the procurement of transport services for the elderly and disabled form examples for Pathway 12, which focuses on accelerating sustainability and innovation through public procurement.

In addition, Pathway 15 features Udaltalde 21's project which sees 11 small Basque municipalities coming together under a supra-municipal cooperation model in order to share tenders and work on a common sustainability strategy.

For more information and to download the publication, click here.


The latest on life-cycle costing for procurement

26 November 2019

On behalf of the European Commission, ICLEI Europe and Ecoinstitut will host a webinar focussed on the 5 product-specific life cycle costing (LCC) tools that the European Commission has produced to facilitate the use of LCC in tendering processes among public authorities in the European Union.

The webinar will serve to:
- present the tools and help authorities understand their structure and features;
- demonstrate how to use one of them with real data; and
- reflect on what the results mean from a green public procurement perspective.


16th December 2019 at 14:00 CET

Access the full agenda here.

Register to attend the webinar here.


China, ICLEI, the Netherlands and UN Environment Programme join hands to lead the globe towards sustainable procurement

25 November 2019

The UN-led initiative “One Planet Network” has a new leadership for its Sustainable Procurement Programme. Four organisations are going to jointly manage the programme to accelerate the uptake of sustainable procurement (SPP) – a key pillar in achieving SDG 12. The selected organisations are: ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, Environment Development Centre of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment of China (EDC), the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (Rijkswaterstaat, RWS) of the Netherlands, and the UN Environment Programme. The initiative is mandated by the UN member states and supports the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12 - ensuring Sustainable Consumption and Production.

The new leadership brings together a strong combination of expertise on SPP alongside vast experience in addressing sustainable public procurement at different governance levels and across the globe.   

Public procurement can be used to address environmental issues and encourage social cohesion. It can create new jobs, new markets and opportunities for business. ICLEI has been advocating for and supporting implementation of sustainable public procurement globally for over 23 years. Together with ambitious organisations like the EDC, RWS, and the UNEP, we will be able to support the uptake and implementation of sustainable public procurement at the local, national, regional and worldwide level to ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns and assist in the delivery of Sustainable Development Goal 12,” said Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh, Mayor of Malmö, ICLEI Global Executive Committee member on the Sustainable Local Economy and Procurement portfolio.

With the new leadership, the Sustainable Procurement Programme will empower public authorities at all levels to make use of their public funds to pave the path towards SDG 12.

“For a healthy future we have to stop wasting our finite resources and focus on circularity. We have to reuse materials and turn them into new products. Sustainable public procurement is our way of leading by example and helping to create a sustainable, circular market. And it works! So let’s coordinate our efforts, share what we learn and make a difference together,” highlighted Stientje van Veldhoven, State Secretary for Infrastructure and Water Management, the Netherlands

Procurement has a key - although often overlooked - role in this endeavour. The One Planet Network’s SPP programme therefore mobilises support for SPP at all levels, involving a multitude of global actors. It supports countries and public authorities by demonstrating the value of SPP in addressing key environmental and social challenges, and working towards SPP implementation.

“Sustainable Public Procurement is the key measure for sustainable consumption and production transition. The Environmental Development Centre, China,  has long been committed to the policy research and implementation of sustainable consumption and production, environmental labeling and climate change, thus accumulating rich experience in these areas. By teaming up with international partners like UNEP, ICLEI and RWS, we will steadily advance cooperation and exchange between countries and regions, and stimulate the SPP programme globally. Exploring together, we will make every endeavor to achieve global sustainable development goals,” said Dr. Ren Yong, Director General of EDC.

To achieve this, the programme will connect SPP initiatives at global, regional, national and local level to replicate and scale-up impactful projects in collaboration.

For the upcoming period, the new leadership will focus on a range of key themes and sectors with high expected impact on SDG 12: construction and infrastructure, health, ICT, food, and circular procurement. Additional themes or sectors may be included at a later date.