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Here we have posted the latest updates from EcoProcura 2012 as it happened.




Have a look at our photo gallery for pictures from EcoProcura 2012!

Day 3: The power of procurement to transform the market

EcoProcura 2012 culminated today with a consensus that public authorities have both the power and responsibility to create a market for sustainable products and services. Spending €2 trillion (or 19 percent of GDP) each year on goods and services, the public sector is the biggest single buyer on the European market. This represents a tremendous potential to push environmental, social and innovative solutions.

The final day of the conference started with a plenary session that picked up on this new consensus and addressed the question of how buyers in public authorities can be moved from awareness to taking actual steps to improve their procurement practices. Pia Kinhult, First Governor of the Region of Skade in Sweden talked about the importance of internal collaboration between all actors, as well as political buy-in and support. Jo Versteven, Sustainable Procurement Expert at the Belgian Federal Public Planning Service also emphasised the importance of common sustainable development goals across different departments.

The closing plenary looked at the journey ahead. Siep Eilander, Chief Procurement Officer at the Dutch Ministry of Interior called for less regulation and more professionalism in public procurement. He stressed that sustainable public procurement is an integral part of professional procurement. The need for more professionalism and networking was reiterated by Lari Pitkä-Kangas, Deputy Mayor of the City of Malmö.

Karl Sigurdsson, City Councillor and Chairman of the Environment and Transport Committee in Reykjavik reported that much has happened in the capital of Iceland since the city hosted the previous edition of the EcoProcura conference in 2009. He said that the conference came just one year after the banks in Iceland collapsed and the city was looking into cutting budgets. This has inspired the city to become more cost-efficient and environmentally friendly through sustainable public procurement – with a focus on problem areas such as street lighting.

All panellists stressed the importance of exchanging experiences and communicating best practice – being inspired by others successes. Pekka Sauri, Deputy Mayor of Helsinki encouraged participants to join the Procura+ Campaign, which he chairs. Mark Hidson, Director of Sustainable Procurement at ICLEI explained that the information collected during the conference will help inform policy processes at the European and global level through the Campaign. The campaign aims to create a movement to drive sustainable public procurement. It also offers support in implementing sustainable public procurement (SPP).

There was also a second market lounge round during which representatives from various organisations presented good practice examples, projects and initiatives on SPP in small round tables. In the afternoon, delegates had the opportunity to attend site visits to learn first hand about regeneration of post-war housing, the renowned Western Harbour development or the sustainable school meals initiative in Malmö.

Pictures Day 2


Watch the slideshow below from the second day of the EcoProcura conference.

 Photographer: Drago Prvulovic/ MalmöBild

Day 2: Procuring innovation under modernised rules


Author: Simon Clement, Project Coordinator, ICLEI

Day 2 of the conference opened with a look at the proposed revisions to the EU public procurement directives. Klaus Wiedner, Head of Unit at the Internal Market and Services Directorate General presented the current status of the reform process. He highlighted the challenges faced in aiming to both simplify procurement law, and enable its greater use in meeting strategic goals, such as sustainability and innovation. Peter Kunzlik, Professor of Law at City University London, Arnhild Dordi Gjonnes, Chair of the Public Procurement Working Group at BUSINESSEUROPE and Catarina Segersten Larsson, Member of the Assembly of Värland County Council and Committee of the Regions rapporteur on procurement offered a legal, business and local and regional authorities’ perspective on the reform.

The proposed changes aim to clarify the opportunities for addressing environmental and social impacts in procurement – including allowing direct reference to specific labels, an emphasis on life cycle costing, and a clear message that impacts all the way through the supply chain may be considered. A challenge remains in determining equivalence in comparing different labels and standards. The point was also made that perhaps we need less regulation rather than more, and allow authorities more leeway in themselves defining what they consider sustainability to be.

Procuring innovation

During the session on procuring innovation, Bertrand Wert, Policy Officer at the Directorate General for Enterprise and Industry announced that the European Commission is trying to encourage more demand for innovation. Procurement is seen as a major factor to drive this demand. This is why DG Enterprise is providing funding and invites proposal for procurement of innovation. A new online platform on the procurement of innovation that is being developed by ICLEI will be launched in early 2013. Stefan Wurm of the Austrian Federal Procurement Agency presented some practical examples of procuring innovation. He highlighted that one important lesson learned is the need to integrate the user perspective.

Putting the ‘social’ in sustainable procurement

The final plenary session of the day addressed Socially Responsible Public Procurement. Sue Bird, Policy Coordinator at the Directorate General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion presented the ‘Buy Social’ guide. This was followed by a practical case study from the City of Regensburg in Germany. Councillor Irmgard Freihoffer presented how the city has overcome political barriers and is now about to become a Fair Trade Town. Janet Meissner Pritchard, Programme Leader at Client Earth contributed with a presentation on the legal scope for socially responsible procurement. She criticised the proposed directives for a lack of legal clarity and insufficient simplification. Client Earth calls for the possibility to include social standards in technical specifications similar to environmental criteria.

In the afternoon, delegates had the opportunity to delve deeper into specific topics during two rounds of break-out sessions. These included sessions on social procurement, procurement of innovation, as well as procuring food, timber and textiles and clean vehicles. There was also a training workshop on how to use Life Cycle Costing. In the evening, the City of Malmö invited delegates for a dinner at the Town Hall.

Pictures Day 1


Watch the slideshow below from the first day of the EcoProcura conference.

 Photographer: Drago Prvulovic/ MalmöBild

Day 1: The emerging landscape for sustainable procurement


Author: Melanie Mattauch, Communications Officer, ICLEI
EcoProcura kicked off today with an afternoon of thought-provoking presentations and discussions. Ilmar Reepalu, Chairman of the Executive Board and Mayor of Malmö welcomed participants to the conference. Deputy Mayor of Helsinki and Chair of the Procura+ campaign Pekka Sauri stressed in his welcome address the challenges posed for sustainable public procurement (SPP) by current and future legislation. He hopes that EcoProcura and the Procura+ campaign will help dealing with these challenges and drive SPP in Europe.

Sustainable Procurement Director Mark Hidson from ICLEI emphasised the genuine shift which has placed SPP and procurement of innovation at centre stage. He highlighted the role played by local authorities and ICLEI pushing for this and invited participants to help encourage that shift even more. ICLEI will feed the outcomes of the conference into political arenas such as expert groups at the European Commission.

The first plenary session examined the emerging landscape for SPP. Fanny Demassieux, Head of the Responsible Consumption unit at UNEP explained that one positive outcome of the UN Earth Summit Rio+20 was the inclusion of SPP within the 10-year programme on sustainable consumption and production as a priority programme has been a real achievement. She sees a need to step up collaboration between cities and national governments and sees reinforcing the cooperation with ICLEI as key to achieve this.

Soledad Blanco, Director or Sustainable Resource Management, Industry and Air at the Directorate General for the Environment indicated the potential of SPP to tap into the €2 trillion saving potential through resource efficiency and help build a green economy. She also recognised the need to step up its ongoing work on social public procurement.

Gerhard Huebner, Director of Economic and Fiscal Policy of the European Association of Craft, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises presented the business perspective on the discussion. He made clear that the SME sector is in favour of Life Cycle Costing since this represents best value for money rather than the lowest possible price. Mr Huebner criticised that there is a gap between stated political intentions and the incentives provided and is concerned that specifications are being misused to award the contract to a predefined company. He advocates for fair and transparent public procurement.

During the following panel discussion Alfredo Molina, Senior Jurist of European Law working with the Committee of the Regions suggested the creation of a European knowledge institution that can assist public authorities with information on issues such as applying life cycle costing, SPP criteria, and state-of-the-art technology available.

Further discussions took place on the difficulties SMEs face in responding to onerous procurement demands, and how to include industry more effectively in the development of SPP criteria. The question was also raised whether sustainable public procurement actually stimulates the emergence of new ideas or whether it is merely scaling up innovation.

During a market lounge session, 25 representatives from various organisations presented good practice examples, projects and initiatives on SPP in small round tables. The main points that emerged from the following discussions on each table have been tweeted by @ICLEI_Europe. Have a look at #EcoProcura.


Images: Drago Prvulovic/ MalmöBild



Multimedia exhibition: Verifiying social standards in public procurement


Author: Philipp Tepper, Project Coordinator Sustainable Procurement, ICLEI

The start of EcoProcura 2012 saw the launch of the multimedia exhibition from the LANDMARK project. The exhibition looks at how social responsibility can be achieved throughout public sector supply chains with a focus on how to verify supplier compliance. A DVD with interviews and animations was shown along with an interactive exhibit that invites visitors to explore issues and solutions surrounding the procurement of various high-risk product groups such as food and textiles. The LANDMARK project aims to enable European local authorities to improve working conditions in supply chains through responsible public procurement. Watch this LANDMARK video on how to verify social standards in public procurement.


Image: DragoPrvulovic/ MalmöBild


The value of public food


Author: Robin Gourlay, Policy Leader for Public Sector, Food and Drink division, Scottish government

In 2009, Scotland developed its first National Food and Drink Policy. The policy prioritised public procurement, which it said should be an exemplar.

Consequently, the Scottish Government are working to create the conditions for sustainable procurement and for public bodies to create improved opportunities for small and medium sized businesses. There is now an increasing awareness in all parts of Scotland’s public sector about the significance of sustainable purchasing.

The opportunity has to be viewed with both optimism and realism. It is clear from the many conversations, which take place with food producers, caterers and buyers working in the public sector that while there is a new willingness to work collaboratively to bring about positive change, there is also work to be done to continue to improve procurement practices, develop SME tendering skills, to build up capacity and to create efficient distribution and supply chains.

Through the National Food Policy the Scottish Government is creating the conditions where the public sector can lead by example demonstrating that food is of vital importance in social, economic and environmental terms and that this should be reflected in the procurement processes practiced by the public sector.

For more information on our work, visit the Scotland of Food and Drink website and join the break-out session ‘Sustainable Procurement of Food’ at 14:30 on day two of the conference. In my presentation, I will also describe the school food service in East Ayrshire where 30% of the food used is organic, 50% from local suppliers and 75% fresh and unprocessed.

Image: Dreamstime / Mchudo


Barcelona's clean clothes experience


Author: Mar Campanero, Barcelona City Council

Hello, my name is Mar Campanero and I am responsible for Barcelona’s +Sustainable City Council programme. Globalisation has seen the relocation of production to countries in the south in search of cheap labour. This comes with difficulties to control social and labour conditions during the manufacturing process, especially since labour legislation does not exist or cannot be enforced in many countries in the global south.

I believe that public authorities need to lead by example and drive a demand for environmentally friendly and socially fair products and services. Barcelona City Council is a large consumer of textile products, mainly work clothes for gardeners, the police and fire brigade. We have set ourselves the goal to guarantee that basic rights have been respected during the production of the clothes we purchase.

Within the framework of the Clean Clothes Campaign and the Catalan Network for Ethical Public Procurement, an initial pilot was carried out to only purchase products that respect these basic labour rights. As part of this scheme, Barcelona’s Parks and Gardens Department became the first Spanish public entity to introduce corporate social responsibility clauses and ethical criteria in its contract specifications in the annual tendering process for work clothing. We demand from the tendering companies that the fabrics and other materials used in the production, as well as the production process itself must respect basic labour rights as set out by the International Labour Organisation. This for instance prohibits forced or child labour.

Since 2008, we also included environmental requirements in the specifications to minimise the use of toxic substances in the manufacturing process of the fabric and promote the use of organic fibres. The companies must have a committed management policy with regards to environmental and occupational risk prevention. These criteria are now compulsory for the Parks and Gardens’ annual call for tender for work clothes for a total of 700 staff. We are now looking at spreading this practice to other departments that purchase work clothes, as well.

If you would like to learn more about Barcelona’s clean clothes experience, join break-out session 7 on ‘Social issues in procurement – timber and textiles’ from 16:00-17:00 on Thursday, 21 September. For more information about Barcelona’s sustainable procurement practice, visit the +Sustainable City Council website.


See you in Malmö!


Author: Iker Urdangarin, EcoProcura 2012 Conference Team

Hello, my name is Iker from the EcoProcura 2012 Conference Team. I am excited that the conference is now only days away!

We have prepared a summary of practical information for participants that includes everything from how to get to venue to getting around Malmö, from opening hours of pharmacies, banks and shops to emergency telephone numbers and information on the weather. I would recommend that you read this document carefully and bring a printed copy with you to Malmö.

Should you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us by email or phone: +46 (0) 708-769231.

I am looking forward to meeting you in Malmö!

Have a safe trip!

Image: S.S.K.