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Procurement by nature - on the urgent need for holistic buying

16 May 2019

Nature is essential for human existence and a good quality of life. Yet, over the past 50 years, nature across most of the globe has been significantly altered by multiple human drivers, like the clearing of forests for farmland, the expansion of roads and cities, logging, hunting, overfishing, water pollution and the transport of invasive species.

"Nature can be conserved, restored and used sustainably while simultaneously meeting other global societal goals through urgent and concerted efforts fostering transformative change" - says recent Global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services by Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

The report outlines possible actions and pathways to achieve transformative change. It identifies the need for public procurement policies to promote sustainable production and consumption. Governments, NGOs and Science and Educational Organisations are called for, to implement sustainable sourcing, resource efficiency and reduced production impacts, circular and other economic models, corporate social responsibility and life-cycle assessments.

“It’s no longer enough to focus just on environmental policy,” said Sandra M. Díaz, a lead author of the study, “We need to build biodiversity considerations into trade and infrastructure decisions, the way that health or human rights are built into every aspect of social and economic decision-making.”

Linking public procurement to nature-based solutions is an entry point to realise the called-for transformative change by for example using green procurement policies to reduce the adverse impact of construction by leveraging zero emission construction vehicles or sustainable earthwork and remediation. However, linking procurement to nature-based solutions has its' challenges such as the difficulty to compare cost and benefits of nature-based solution vs grey infrastructure.
Current work at ICLEI involves the Clever Cities project - which aims to use nature-based solutions to address urban challenges and promote social inclusion in cities across Europe, South America and China.

Read the full report by IPBES here.