Green Deal? Achieve it through Procurement! Key insights from the European Week of Regions and Cities

Public Procurement versus Green Public Procurement 

If used strategically, public procurement can make a considerable contribution to reaching green policy goals. But how exactly? This session organised by the EU Urban Agenda Partnership at the European Week of Regions and Cities took place on 14 October and presented the work of cities on procurement, their goals and challenges and the role of the Urban Agenda in supporting these efforts with tools and products.

As one of the 14 Urban Agenda Partnerships, the Public Procurement Partnership is pushing forward procurement as a strategic driver to help cities make a positive impact. Among other social and economic advantages, procurement can help local authorities deliver their environmental objectives at a local level. One example is by triggering circular Procurement or by prioritising sustainable consumption and production.


Finding tools and resources for cities

Thanks to a case study on the City of Haarlem made by its Mayor Jos Wienen and a presentation of tools developed by the Public Procurement Partnership by its coordinator Valentina Schippers-Opejko, speakers forged a better understanding of some of the tools available and good practices regarding innovative public procurement, to which the UA Partnership has contributed.

Panellists also introduced the work of their units and organisations and how they are working towards Green Deal priorities. Some of the examples touched upon in the session include: 

  • On the European Commission’s website, a list of resources is available to develop a better common understanding of the term “green” in public procurement, as well as a training toolkit, a newsletter and much more. These resources can be found here.
  • URBACT supports networks such as Procure, as well as the Actions developed under the Public Procurement Partnership (i.e. the Making Spend Matter Action). They also offer a free online course on strategic procurement to equip cities with the necessary knowledge to move towards more strategic procurement.
  • The OECD has prepared a collection of best practices for green public procurement at the national and sub-national level. They also presented the new Recommendation of the Council on the Governance of Infrastructure and how governance can pave the way for sustainable infrastructure on its dedicated forum.

Overall, the session highlighted a set of priorities for cities to be more successful in achieving responsible and innovative procurement: 

  1. The need for a political buy-in to the approach. 
  2. Cities need to see more examples of where other cities have been successful. 
  3. Priorities around Green and social challenges should be kept simple for both procurers and suppliers. 
  4. The legal framework is in place to enable Cities to embed social and environmental considerations, procurement cultures need to shift to take advantage of this.
  5. Relevant organisations need to collaborate and cooperate more.
  6. There needs to be investment in city level procurement and impact measurement capacity. 

What are the next steps?

One of the main challenges in achieving green procurement is that cities do not always fully understand the regulatory environment around public procurement. Thanks to better cooperation and communication, cities environments can learn from each other. The road towards green public procurement is also helped by the many initiatives discussed during the session (above). If you wish to view the session again, you will be able to do so here.


The next steps laid out by the Partnership on Innovative and Responsible Public Procurement

European Commission Haarlem URBACT OECD green deal