26 January 2023

New report identifies main priorities in ethical procurement of IT

A new report of the International Working Group on Ethics in Public Procurement of IT identifies a number of lessons for how public byers can increase the social responsibility of their IT-related procurements. They include the alignment of criteria with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, developing certification systems that strike a balance between trustworthiness and ease of certification, encouraging a reduction in the use of chemicals of concern through more sustainable design and production, and respecting international labour laws and regulations to make sure that workers’ rights are taken into account.

The report, written by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, within the context of the International Working Group on Ethics in Public Procurement of IT. The Group brings together leading European public buyers of IT as a means for exchange, stock taking, discussion and identification of actions towards a next-generation ethical procurement of IT. In 2022 its work was cantered around four workshops, respectively on Human Rights Due Diligence, Ethical Batteries for Electric Vehicles, Exposure of Workers to Chemicals of Concern, and Working Conditions at the Re-use and Disposal Stage. In addition to the four workshops, a webinar was also organised on Using Certifications in the Procurement of ICT.

The Working Group was set up in 2021 and continued in 2022. Its key objectives are:

  • Bring together frontrunners (policy-makers and procurers) regularly,
  • Gather the latest insights on best practices and challenges from public authorities as preparatory research that could enable learning, development of new criteria or engagement with market actors,
  • Identify concrete actions to be taken for ethical procurement practice,
  • Enable exchanges between procurement and policy perspective,
  • Connect key outputs to other relevant European and international work.

The report also includes recommendations for the future work of the group. It notes for example that public procurers should be provided with more concrete and harmonised tools to be used in their daily practice, and argues for the creation of a common space for exchange and networking among procurers and ICT experts that includes direct tender advice.

The full report can be downloaded here.