Sustainable procurement:
Buying green can’t wait until 2050

Right now, government purchases are responsible for 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions.

Public procurement has a meaningful role in addressing climate change. Introducing more sustainable procurement policies and processes present an enormous opportunity for public authorities to not only contribute to reaching carbon emission reduction goals, but also to drive sustainable societal and economic development. Open contracting can help governments achieve sustainability goals while spending funds openly and effectively.

Many governments are just starting to consider what it means to buy more green and put new purchasing policies into practice. When tackling sustainable purchasing, it can feel challenging to know where to start. There are so many ways that governments could buy more green, from incorporating product lifecycle costing for computers, to buying more local and sustainable produce for school meals, to sourcing more sustainable building materials for infrastructure.

Our work

We are helping our partners both develop new policies from the ground up, and think through how to implement high level policies that are already mandates. In addition, we are building the field by developing user-friendly resources and open data tools for practitioners.

  • Together with the Ministry of Environment in Lithuania, we are implementing an open data pilot to showcase how open data can be used for green procurement measurement and uptake promotion. This work builds on Lithuania’s efforts to create a green procurement scoreboard for public authorities, which collects and presents data on technical specifications, award criteria, and clauses, and shows the detailed levels of green procurement uptake across Lithuanian institutions. 
  • Through Lift, our impact accelerator program, we are working with the social entrepreneurs at CivicDataLab to address the impact of climate change on disadvantaged communities by supporting more equitable distribution of public goods, services, and works procured for flood relief in the State of Assam. 
  • Also through Lift, we are working with the City of Des Moines to embed sustainability and social equity into the city’s procurement operations, including supporting the development and implementation of new green purchasing policies. 
  • Together with our partners at PUBLIC, we are developing research and guidance for global governments on designing and implementing sustainable procurement. 
  • We are developing open data guidance on designing green procurement measurement methodologies and modeling data to run them together with our partners at Spend Network UK. This work focuses on CO2 reduction and life-cycle costing analysis.

Green Flags: How open data can throw light on sustainable procurement

This guidance explores how open data on public procurement can help public buyers drive green/sustainable public procurement forward. We estimate that governments spend over US$13 trillion every year on public procurement, meaning it could be a very powerful lever to transition to more sustainable economies, inspired by the Sustainable Development Goals and the climate change regulations to implement the Paris Agreement.

There is an important gap still to be filled to track and measure progress in implementing GPP across the whole of the marketplace. This guide aims to begin closing that gap. Put simply, we focus on the ‘green flags’ in government procurement data that can be monitored to track the adoption of GPP. It is based on research focused on the Netherlands, Lithuania and Paraguay, and on interviews with global practitioners working to define, qualify, operationalize, and measure GPP both in terms of size and scale of purchasing and in terms of performance.

Contact our experts

Karolis Granickas,
Senior Program Manager for Europe

Carey Kluttz,
Head of Country Programs