Sustainable Public Procurement

Public procurement wields enormous purchasing power, accounting for an average of 12 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in OECD countries, and up to 30 percent of GDP in many developing countries. Leveraging this purchasing power by promoting public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities, plays a key role in achieving Sustainable Consumption and Production (SDG 12) and in addressing the three pillars of Sustainable Development.

UN Environment action at the national level: support to member states in the development and implementation of SPP policies

2009-2012: Development of a methodology to develop and implement SPP policies

UNEP tested in 7 countries a methodology developed by the Marrakech Task Force on Sustainable Public Procurement in the framework of the EU funded “Capacity building for Sustainable Public Procurement” project.

A revised methodology was developed, based on lessons learned during the pilot phase. The revised methodology became the UNEP SPP Implementation Guidelines, and started to be at the core of several projects that followed.

2013-2017: Rolling out the SPP methodology

-          From 2013 to 2017, 13 countries were supported in their efforts to develop and implement SPP policies through the EU funded project: “Stimulating the demand and supply of sustainable products through Sustainable Public Procurement and Ecolabelling” (SPPEL). Using the SPP implementation guidelines, the project provided capacity building and advisory services for the combined implementation of SPP and ecolabelling in 13 countries. Find project’s outputs here.

-          The EU funded Eastern Partnership Green project (EaP Green project) (2013-2017) allowed for the UN Environment SPP Approach to be successfully rolled out in Ukraine and Moldova : SPP plans were developed and were starting to be implemented over the past several years.

UN Environment action at the regional level

-           China and the Republic of Korea funded the ASEAN+3 GPP and ecolabelling project: the aim of the project was to establish an Asia Pacific network of GPP and EL experts, identify and disseminate best practices, benchmark policies and develop regional cooperation on these subjects with a particular focus on knowledge transfer from more advanced to less advanced countries.  Read the project report here.

-            At the regional level, in Latin America and in South East Asia (ASEAN countries), SPPEL fostered the sharing of experiences and best practices related to SPP implementation. A specific SPP online platform for the Latin American region, Compras Sostenibles, was developed and integrated into the One Planet Network knowledge hub.

UN Environment action at the global level

UN Environment supported the establishment of the SPP programme in 2014, and led the programme with co-lead KEITI until 2019.  UN Environment continues to support the One Planet SPP programme as a member of its Multi-stakeholder Advisory Committee (MAC).

The One Planet Programme on Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP), is a global multi-stakeholder platform that supports the implementation of SPP around the world. The Programme builds synergies between various partners to accelerate the shift to SPP and achieve the SDG target on SPP.

The programme counts 130+ partners. It has developed and collected a number of tools and resources which can be found here.

Since 2018

-          United Nations Development Account (UNDA): UN Environment is active in the UNDA project “Enhancing sustainable public procurement for regional transition to inclusive green economy in Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA).

-          EU4Environment: The EU4Environment Initiative integrates multiple activities and stakeholders to help deliver policy and legislative changes, making planning and investment greener, stimulating the uptake of innovative technologies, adopting new business models, and creating green jobs. As part of the initiative, UN Environment supports the implementation of green public procurement policies, among other activities.

-          Activities in relation to the SDGs: Development of the 12.7.1 methodology, pilot testing, measurement of SPP impacts and outcomes, mapping of SDGs to SPP monitoring tools


Would you like to receive a biweekly update on the most interesting Sustainable Procurement news? To sign up for the newsletter click here


List of publications commissioned by UN Environment in the framework of the One Planet Programme:

• A Sampling of Successes in Green Public Procurement: Case Studies of Green Public Procurement Implementation in Asia-Pacific Countries (2017)

• Comparative Analysis of Green Public Procurement and Ecolabelling in China, Japan, Thailand and the Republic of Korea: Lessons Learned and Common Success Factors (2017)

• Measuring and Communicating the Benefits of Sustainable Public Procurement (2016)

Monitoring Sustainable Public Procurement Implementation. Recommendations and case studies (2016)

• Promoting the participation of Small and Medium Size Enterprises in Green Public Procurement (2016)

• 10YFP SPP Programme Principles of Sustainable Public Procurement (2015)

Compendium of best practices for Green Public Procurement (2015)

Using Product-Service Systems to Enhance Sustainable Public Procurement (2015)

• Using PSS to enhance SPP - technical report (2015)

• Sustainability of Supply Chains and Sustainable Public Procurement. A Pre Study (2014)

• The Impacts of Sustainable Public Procurement: Eight Illustrative Case Studies (2013)

• Sustainable Public Procurement Implementation Guidelines (2012)

UN Environment has also published two Global SPP Reviews (2013, 2017) to examine the state of sustainable public procurement worldwide and challenges faced in SPP implementation. In 2017 a separate publication included 40 fact sheets on the progress of SPP in the world’s most advanced countries.

To return to the Economic and Fiscal Policy Unit’s homepage click here.