Fair sustainable procurement

In Germany, around one in six euros is spent by the public sector (federal, state and local authorities). With this procurement volume of over €350 billion per year – or around 13% of the gross domestic product – the public sector has a decisive share in the demand for sustainable products and services. Slightly more than half of this expenditure is accounted for by municipal institutions. The switch to fair sustainable procurement holds great potential here.

Public institutions can use their strong market power to promote ecologically and socially responsible production and act as role model for sustainable private consumption. In some product areas, it is already evident that the market is responding to changing demand and that living and working conditions along the supply chain are improving in concrete terms. Public procurement is thus a key factor for sustainable development to focus on human rights, environmental responsibility and solidarity in global supply chains and not only on availability for us.

According to the Supply Chain Due Diligence Act, public procurement is an important field of action in the state’s obligation to protect human rights.

Verteilung öffentliche Beschaffung

The special role of public procurement is also highlighted in the Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is named as an important criterion to create sustainable consumption and production patterns (SDG 12). In addition, SDG 12.7 explicitly focuses on public procurement, stating: Promote sustainable practices in public procurement, in line with national policies and priorities.

In 2014, the European Union completed a reform of public procurement law in Europe, which also strengthened sustainable public procurement. In spring 2016, the EU directives were transposed into German law through the reform of the Act against Restraints of Competition (GWB) and the associated ordinances. The most important innovation in these provisions is that sustainability was anchored as a procurement principle (GWB, Section 97, Paragraph 3). This should be included and implemented not only implicitly but explicitly in further regulations at both state and municipal level. Social and ecological aspects are to be taken into account as equally important dimensions of sustainability in public procurement. The reform of public procurement law also clarified that intangible product characteristics are characteristics of the subject matter of the contract (VgV, § 31, 3). Working conditions, environmental protection measures during production or along the entire supply chain are in each case part of the product to be purchased.

More and more municipalities have recognized their responsibility and duty and pay attention to fair production conditions when purchasing goods. corsus advises numerous municipalities on how to strategically anchor fair sustainable procurement in their administrative actions and how to implement it in the long term. Currently corsus accompanies this process on behalf of the Service agency communities in one world for eight municipalities in Germany.

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