Global Lead Cities Network on sustainable public procurement launched

Seoul Metropolitan Government and ICLEI have joined forces to establish a Global Lead Cities Network on Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP). The aim is to create a worldwide network of leading cities that share and develop their capabilities to implement sustainable and innovation procurement, driving a transition to sustainable production and consumption.

The network marks a recent growth in international interest and understanding of the importance of procurement in the fight against climate change. It has been set up to raise awareness of the benefits of sustainable and innovation procurement, and help develop a supportive political framework.

Procurement makes up a significant proportion of public expenditure. According to the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), an average of 15 percent of global gross domestic product is spent through public procurement systems each year, amounting to over $10 trillion. This level of purchasing power is what makes the transition to sustainable public procurement so powerful. Public authority spending has real potential to change the future, achieve real value for organisations and provide tangible benefits to the environment and for the well-being of our society.

Committing to SPP enables local authorities to invest in the future of their cities and can actively encourage local innovation and entrepreneurship. It is a vital tool in ensuring the quality of life in towns and cities by, for example, improving air quality and reducing levels of waste. Sustainable public procurement also has the potential to improve cost efficiency and effectiveness of public services.  Techniques such as life-cycle costing, which includes all the costs associated with a produce throughout its lifetime, allow for a much more accurate and long-term calculation of how much investments will actually cost in real terms.

Cities including Seoul (Republic of Korea), Cape Town (South Africa), Helsinki (Finland), Ghent (Belgium) and Rotterdam (The Netherlands) are amongst the founding participants, launching the network in the closing plenary at the ICLEI World Congress in Seoul on 11 April 2015. They commit to take an exemplary role globally by putting SPP into action through setting ambitious, quantified targets for its implementation, developing a clear implementation strategy and undertaking an evaluation of performance.

The cities will act as global and regional champions of SPP to help promote and accelerate its wide-scale adoption by other cities. They will collaborate closely with the other cities in the network through ongoing exchange on SPP implementation.

Recent examples of such leadership include pledges by ICLEI member Helsinki (Finland) to achieve 100 percent sustainable public procurement by 2020 and a public call for action launched by the French capital Paris in the run-up to the COP21 summit. Cities are uniquely placed to develop and showcase practical solutions, which can then be replicated and adapted to other urban environments.

Key pillars of the network are target setting, implementation and monitoring of measures. To this end ICLEI will look to develop a standard monitoring mechanism for participants to calculate the environmental and financial benefits of SPP related to their individual targets. This ability to quantify savings will provide convincing evidence to others of the impact more sustainable procurement practices can have.

For more information on the lead cities network contact the Global Director of ICLEI’s Sustainable Procurement Capacity Centre:

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