26 October 2020

EWRC highlights the power of sustainable procurement

The workshop “The Power of Sustainable Procurement” held on 14 October in the framework of the European Week of Regions and Cities, highlighted how sustainable procurement is increasingly integrating both social and green criteria.

Discussing examples from Ghent (Belgium) and Salamanca (Spain), taken from the report “Making socially responsible public procurement work: 71 good practice cases” the workshop aimed to inspire and to encourage procuring authorities to use their buying power to advance social and environmental policy goals.

Aline de Cokere, procurer for the Municipality of Ghent, explained how her city procured socially responsible workwear by demanding that suppliers integrate international labor conventions and ensure transparency throughout the entire textiles supply chain. With this approach Ghent wanted to minimise the environmental impact of its workwear, while guaranteeing that human rights are respected as much as possible throughout the entire production process.

The other side of the procurement process was represented by Ana Fe Felix, manager at La Encina. La Encina is a Work Integration Social Enterprise (WISE), contracted by the municipality of Salamanca, through a reserved tender, to maintain the green areas of the city. Felix explained that WISE’s are not for profit operators, focusing on local development and care for the environment, whose main objective is the labor integration of people in a situation of social exclusion. As such, reserved tenders for WISE’s are a valuable tool to protect vulnerable people and the environment.

These two cases fit well within the EU’s vision for the future of sustainable procurement, explained Anna Lupi, policy officer at DG Grow. She explained that the European Commission has until recently seen Socially Responsible Public Procurement (SRPP) and Green Public Procurement (GPP) as two separate strands of sustainable public procurement with separate techniques and definitions. In the future the intention is to treat them as more complementary, to encourage public authorities to integrate social and green aspects equally in their procurements.