The UN has launched a new scheme which aims to use global government spending worth “trillions of dollars” to promote sustainability.
Called the Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP) Programme, it will assist governments to “redirect public spending into goods and services that bring significant environmental and social benefits” and aims to play a vital role in transitioning the globe to an inclusive green economy.
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said existing initiatives prove sustainable procurement transforms markets, boosts eco-industries, saves money, conserves natural resources and fosters job creation.
In the US, the federal government – which procures more than $500 billion (£299bn) a year in goods and services – has incorporated sustainability requirements into purchasing regulations, including an Executive Order specifying that 95% of all new contracts use products and services that are “energy and water efficient, environmentally preferable, non-ozone depleting and contain recycled content”.
In Japan, green purchasing laws now require ministries, provisional governments and an increasing number of cities to make 95% of their purchases from designated “green product” categories while China’s public procurement bureau, overseeing $8 billion (£4.8bn) in transactions, included sustainability criteria in over 17% of orders by 2011.
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director said: “The Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development nations spent an average 13% of Gross Domestic Product on public procurement in 2011 while in some developing nations this can hit 20%. This adds up to trillions of dollars globally, demonstrating the scale of the opportunity ahead.
“Governments can use this potential to lead markets onto a sustainable path by demanding goods and services that conserve natural resources, create decent green jobs and improve livelihoods around the globe.”