Making public procurement more sustainable

Environmental aspects have been taken into account in procurement for a long time in Germany. The integration of such aspects is in accordance with regulation, can reduce costs and actively contributes to environmental protection. Yet the topic of green public procurement (GPP) is hardly included in public sector training curricula.

To change this, ICLEI and Oeko-Institut have developed a tailor-made and user-orientated training concept for organisations within the Setting Landmarks project. The target group of the project funded by the German Federal Environment Agency and the German Federal Ministry for the Environment are educational and training institutions and actors in the field of public procurement who aim to expand internal know-how and abilities. ICLEI conducted eight train-the-trainer workshops in Germany during the two-year duration of the project (2011-2012), e.g. in Bremen (public authority school) and Bonn (German competence centre for sustainable public procurement).

“Our key goal was to provide teachers and trainers with concepts and methods, with which they themselves can communicate the topic of green public procurement,” said Philipp Tepper, project leader at ICLEI – the Local Governments for Sustainability which have actively committed themselves to sustainable development. “In addition we showed current methods for assessing integrated life-cycle costs and CO2 emissions.”

Practical help for green public procurement

The Setting Landmarks project analysed existing educational and training programs and discussed the possibilities of expanding these together with teachers and the heads of programs. In the workshops, the project partners covered the spectrum of important regulatory issues – from challenges in practical implementation (e.g. dialogue with tenders, the search for sustainable products and implementation of the calculation of life-cycle costs in the tenders) to the methods and content of educational and training modules.

“We have developed a number of guidelines in which the public sector finds concrete help for regulatory and organisational questions regarding procurement,” said Andreas Hermann, expert for sustainable public procurement at Oeko-Institut. “Public authorities and other institutions can use the online tool to assess life-cycle costs and emissions such as CO2, nitrous dioxides and particulate matters (PM) before, during and after tendering. It is available free of charge at”

The networking sessions in Munich, Norderstedt and Magdeburg, which were carried out in addition to the workshops, contributed to bringing together relevant actors in the procurement process. Overall 80 participants took part in these successful events.