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Final GPP News Alert of 2016 is published

27 December 2016

The December edition of the EU GPP News Alert is now available to read online, providing the latest green public procurement (GPP) news from across Europe. This issue takes a close look at the new European network of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), established to further support the implementation of GPP in Europe. So far, 28 NGOs from 16 countries have committed to join the network.

Natalie Evans, the Responsible Procurement Manager from the City of London (UK), is this month’s interviewee, outlining how collaborating on responsible procurement in London has been working in practice, and providing insights into the city’s new Responsible Procurement Strategy.

Two "GPP in practice" examples are featured: the first looks at the work of the City of Oslo’s (Norway) social housing enterprise to tackle emissions produced at construction sites, while the second explores the Federal Procurement Agency in Austria's recent drive to set a nation-wide framework contract to purchase energy efficient computers.

To view the December edition of the EU GPP News Alert, click here [PDF].

Report finds social criteria in procurement can prevent abuse of workers

22 December 2016

A new study by Swedwatch, a non-profit organisation reporting on Swedish business relations in developing countries, has found that including social criteria in public procurement can improve working conditions in global supply chains. Many products purchased for EU consumers are produced in developing countries where there is a higher risk of human rights violations occurring. Social criteria can help to mitigate this risk.

Titled Agents for Change, the report focuses on the production of surgical equipment in Pakistan, chicken meat in Thailand, and coffee in Brazil. A comparative study between 2007 and 2015 found that conditions in Pakistani factories had improved as a result of the inclusion of social demands by Swedish councils.

The report states that there are still serious challenges remaining to ensure social criteria are effectively included in public procurement. Greater risk-assessment of procured products is needed to understand how social criteria can be used to address abuses.

For more information, visit

UNOPS receives award for best practice in sustainable procurement

21 December 2016

UNOPS, an operational arm of the United Nation's, has achieved a "gold level" rating after completing the CIPS sustainable procurement review. Only five organisations in the world have achieved the honour. The accolade recognises organisations that implement progressive policies, procedures and practices to promote sustainable procurement.

"We welcome this award as it strengthens our resolve to provide greater support to our partners and clients in achieving the sustainable development agenda," said Grete Faremo, UNOPS Executive Director. "To receive the gold level in the Sustainable Procurement Review two times consecutively and to obtain a score of 97/100 is a tremendous accomplishment," said Patricia Moser, UNOPS Procurement Group Director. "This speaks to how we continuously strive to be leaders in the field of sustainable procurement."

Going forward, UNOPS is focused on driving sustainability further down its supply chain by sourcing locally and engaging small- and medium-sized businesses, as well as those owned by women. The UN body buys more than $700 million worth of goods and services for partners every year, in support of peacebuilding, humanitarian and development projects worldwide.

For more information, visit

Basque Country adopts new green public procurement programme

13 December 2016

The Basque Government has approved a new green public procurement programme to bolster procurement as a means to advance environmental policy objectives. Covering the period up to 2020, the strategy targets the whole public sector in the region - not only the central government as the previous plan did - and foresees actions to institutionalise GPP and ensure coordination with the private sector.

The programme compiles objectives into two categories: process objectives, which relate to the integration of GPP into authorities’ procedures and procurement tools; and results objectives, based on greening of public tenders for more than 20 priority groups (ranging from office paper to building and infrastructure works).

To supervise and plan its deployment, an inter-agency Steering Committee is being set up with the participation of several government departments and public organisations, with Ihobe (the Environmental Management Agency) as coordinator. The promotion among Basque public authorities has already started, with the aim of fostering adherence and defining collaboration strategies to achieve positive results.

For more information, download the programme in Spanish and Euskera, or contact

Study addresses illegality in Malaysian timber supply chains

7 December 2016

A new study into the Malaysian timber trade offers recommendations to prevent illegal timber from entering supply chains. The study, carried out by NEPCon and the Malaysian Wood Industries Association (MWIA) on behalf of WWF Malaysia, maps supply chains related to the Malaysian timber trade. Preserving the sustainability and integrity of timber supply chains is of great importance to the Asian nation.

The study found that furniture and board producers generally have limited supply chain traceability, as they use low value plantation, such as rubber wood. This wood is traded in high volume by small traders, making it difficult to trace back to the point of harvest. The timber is then mixed with other unknown species, and it is here that the potential for illegal practices is high. The study concludes that increased assurances for products with opaque supply chains are needed.

Through providing detailed supply chain information, the study aims to enable stakeholders to adapt their practices to minimise the risk of illegality in supply chains. 11 Malaysian companies, such as paper mills and furniture producers, participated in the study.

For more information, visit

Article exposes labour rights abuses in cobalt mining

6 December 2016

A shocking article in the Washington Post exposes the human toll of the global appetite for cheap cobalt, one of the primary minerals used to power modern electronics. Despite the value of cobalt – it is vital to the rechargeable batteries used in smartphones and laptops - many of those employed to extract the mineral work in dangerous and difficult conditions for little pay.

The article follows the story of Mayamba, a Conogolese minor who works without protective gear in a hand-dug tunnel. Workers deaths in these mines are common. The mining also results in exposure to toxic metals that are known to cause respiratory ailments. Child labour is a major issue within the mines, with government officials acknowledging that the problem is widespread.

Many workers spend several hours a day underground, with some even sleeping in the mines. Each worker earns around $2 – $3 per day. The Washington Post found that the cobalt from these Congolese mines ends up in a range of major products, such as Apple's iPhones.

To read the article, click here.

Winners of the Procura+ Awards announced

1 December 2016

Procurers from Denmark, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands took home the 2016 Procura+ Awards at a ceremony in Malmö (Sweden) last night. The awards recognise the most outstanding procurement activities carried out in Europe in three categories. The award ceremony was held as part of the Sustainable City Development conference, an international event exploring how cities can work towards implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The City of Copenhagen (Denmark) beat off competition in the category "Sustainable procurement of the year" for its procurement of healthy, sustainable, biodiverse and appetising food. The city aims to ensure that 90 percent of all food procured by the municipality should be organic. Transport for London was awarded “Innovation procurement of the year”. The British capital’s public transport operator sought to reduce the whole life-cycle cost associated with lighting the expansive London Underground network. Rijkswaterstaat (RWS), the body within the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment responsible for infrastructure facilities, was recognised in the category "Tender procedure of the year". RWS used an innovative contract to procure the works and services necessary to widen the A6 motorway.

“I would like to congratulate each award winner for their fantastic achievement. Each organisation has demonstrated how procurement can be used as a valuable tool to achieve strategic sustainability aims,” said Åsa Karlsson Björkmarker, Deputy Mayor, Växjö. The Procura+ Awards are held as part of ICLEI Europe’s Procura+ Network, a network of public authorities at the forefront of sustainable and innovation procurement in Europe.

For more information, read the Press Release.