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Sustainable Public Procurement Initiative Harnesses Power of Public Spending to Fast-track Green Economy Transition
20/ 06/ 2012

Sustainable Public Procurement Initiative Harnesses Power of Public Spending to Fast-track Green Economy TransitionFrom Sao Paolo to Hong Kong, Inspiring Examples Demonstrate SPP Benefits to Economy, Communities and the Environment

Rio de Janeiro, 20 June 2012 – A new international initiative to fast track a global transition to a green economy by harnessing the market-shifting power of government and local authority spending was announced today at Rio+20,  by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and partners.
Supported by over 30 governments and institutions, the International Sustainable Public Procurement Initiative (SPPI) aims to scale-up the level of public spending flowing into goods and services that maximize environmental and social benefits.
Studies indicate that sustainable public procurement, which represents between 15 and 25 per cent of GDP, offers a tremendous opportunity towards green innovation and sustainability.
Examples from around the world show that sustainable public procurement has the potential to transform markets, boost the competitiveness of eco industries, save money, conserve natural resources and foster job creation.

Across the OECD group of countries, public procurement represents close to 20 per cent of GDP (over US $4,733 billion annually), while in developing countries the proportion can be slightly higher.

In India, for example, government procurement is worth about US $300 billion and is expected to grow by more than 10 per cent annually in the coming years.

Japan’s Green Purchasing Policy, has contributed to the growth of the country’s eco-industries, estimated to be worth about €430 billion in 2010.

The city of Vienna saved €44.4 million and over 100,000 tonnes of CO2 between 2001 and 2007 through its EcoBuy programme.

Europe could save up to 64 per cent of energy - or 38 TWh of electricity – by replacing street lights with smarter lighting solutions.

In Hong Kong, replacing incandescent traffic lights with LED generated savings of US $240,000 over the lifespan of LED modules, which also allow for projected annual savings of 7.88 million KWh of electricity and a reduction of 5,500 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

In Brazil, the Foundation for Education Development succeeded in saving 8,800 m3 of water, 1,750 tonnes of waste and 250 kg of organohalogen compounds, providing the equivalent of one month economic activity to 454 waste pickers, through its decision to replace regular notebooks with ones made of recycled paper in 2010

The new SPP initiative seeks to back the worldwide implementation of sustainable public procurement by promoting a better understanding of its potential benefits and impacts and facilitating increased cooperation between key stakeholders.
UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner, said: “Sustainable public procurement is a key enabling instrument for countries that want to make the transition towards a green economy.”
“The SPP initiative offers governments the opportunity to lead by example by harnessing their purchasing power to drive markets towards a greener, more innovative and more sustainable path.”
He added, “The SPP initiative will push the process forward towards the creation of robust regulatory frameworks and collaboration between North and South; public institutions and the businesses sector at an early stage of the process.”
“We hope the initiative receives full support at Rio+20 and that more countries and organizations commit to join and contribute to its success.”
The initiative has to date been endorsed by: Brazil, Switzerland, Ecuador, The Francophonie, Chile, Denmark, the Netherlands, Mauritius, Costa Rica, China, New Zealand, Lebanon,and organizations such as OAS, SEMCo, ITC-ILO, UNOPS, the Forest Stewardship Council, Eco-Institut Barcelona, IISD, the Economic and Monetary Union of West Africa and the International Green Purchasing Network.
SPP has been recognized as a priority theme by all regions and is currently being implemented in many developed and emerging countries:
In Brazil, the Central Purchasing System already contains more than 550 sustainable products. At the same time, the value of procurement contracts that integrate sustainability criteria increased by 94 per cent from 2010 to 2011.
The EU adopted an objective of 50 per cent green public procurement for a list of 20 product groups.
While in the US, President Obama signed an Executive order in 2009, requiring that 95 per cent of all applicable procurement contracts at the Federal level must meet sustainability requirements.

The SPPI objectives include:

Building the case for sustainable public procurement by improving awareness of SPP tools; developing biennial progress reports on SPP implementation, analysing barriers, and proposing innovative solutions.
Supporting SPP implementation through increased South-South and North-South cooperation, and enhancing public-private collaboration.

UNEP has developed significant expertise and a successful track-record in implementing sustainable public procurement policies and action plans across 7 pilot countries in cooperation with the Swiss-led Marrakech Task Force on SPP. This has allowed the accumulation of experience and know-how in regards to the design of SPP policies in emerging and developing countries.
Notes to Editors:
International programmes supporting the SPPI to date, include
The International Institute for Sustainable Development (ISSD) which has supported several countries in designing and implementing SPP policies, among others Vietnam, India, South Africa, and Ghana.  It is responsible for the Procurement and Green Growth work-stream of the Global Green Growth Forum. The working group aims at demonstrating that procurement is able to trigger widespread green growth. It will support the adoption and implementation of green procurement policies and strategies in emerging economies.
The International Green Purchasing Network (IGPN): promotes green purchasing around the globe by coordinating a number of stakeholders implementing green purchasing towards sustainable consumption and production. The mission of the organizations is to: (i) Globally promote the spread of environmentally friendly product and service development and Green Purchasing activities; (ii) Internationally share information and know-how on Green Purchasing and environmentally friendly products and services; (iii) Harmonise the efforts of Green Purchasing and the development of environmentally friendly products and services from a global viewpoint.
UNEP’s Capacity Building for Sustainable Public Procurement in Developing Countries:
In December 2008 the Swiss government and UNEP established a partnership to implement the Marrakech Task Force Approach on Sustainable Public Procurement in up to 14 countries worldwide. As a result, a project entitled "Capacity building for Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP) in developing countries" was launched in January 2009 with the support of the European Commission, the Francophone Organization and the Swiss Government. The project targets the following pilot countries: Costa Rica, Tunisia, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia, Lebanon and Mauritius.
On the occasion of Rio+20, UNEP is publishing the following SPP resources:
Updated SPP Guidelines: incorporating the lessons-learnt from 7 pilot projects.
Training toolkit for decision-makers, suppliers and procurers (SPP Training Toolkit): (coming soon).
Study on the Impacts of SPP:
Sustainable Public Procurement Knowledge Management Centre: an online tool that provides access to projects, experts, best practices and capacity building tools.
The Marrakech Process is a global process to support the elaboration of a 10-Year Framework of Programs on sustainable consumption and production, as called for by the WSSD Johannesburg Plan of Action. Learn more at:

About the Green Economy Initiative
The UNEP-led Green Economy Initiative, launched in late 2008, consists of several components whose collective overall objective is to provide the analysis and policy support for investing in green sectors and in greening environmental unfriendly sectors. For the purposes of the Green Economy Initiative, UNEP has developed a working definition of a green economy as one that results in improved human wellbeing and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. In its simplest expression, a green economy can be thought of as one that is low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive.
Practically speaking, a green economy is one whose growth in income and employment is driven by public and private investments that reduce carbon emissions and pollution, enhance energy and resource efficiency, and prevent the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services. These investments need to be catalysed and supported by targeted public expenditure, policy reforms and regulation changes. This development path should maintain, enhance and, where necessary, rebuild natural capital as a critical economic asset and source of public benefits, especially for poor people whose livelihoods and security depend strongly on nature. Learn more at:
About the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
UNEP is the UN system’s designated entity for addressing environmental issues at the global and regional levels.
Its mission is to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.
 For more information, please contact:
In Brazil:
Nick Nuttall, UNEP Division of Communication and Public Information Acting Director and Spokesperson, Tel. +55 11 6593 8058, +254 733 632 755, e-mail:
UNEP HQ (Nairobi):
Shereen Zorba, Head, UNEP News Desk, Tel: 254 788 526 000, or e-mail:

Further Resources
UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20)
Training toolkit for decision-makers, suppliers and procurers (SPP Training Toolkit - Coming Soon)
Sustainable Public Procurement Knowledge Management Centre
Updated SPP Guidelines: incorporating the lessons-learnt from 7 pilot projects
Study on the Impacts of SPP
Press Release in Portuguese