Create an Action Plan
Create an Action Plan

Create an Action Plan

Communicating your first steps in an SPP Action Plan

Throughout this first section of the toolkit, we have gone through some of the key approaches you can take when considering Open SPP implementation. We have shown how to assess the current enabling environment, how to prioritize procurement categories, set specific SPP goals effectively to track progress, and what you can do to build capabilities and facilitate implementation.

In each of these sections, we have explained the importance of openly communicating your chosen SPP approaches, the reasons behind your decision, and how these will be implemented. An SPP Action Plan is the key way to bring all this together.

Having an SPP Action Plan will allow you to communicate to procurement practitioners what the current framework for implementing SPP is, what this means for them, and what actions will be taken to further adapt this framework.

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In this section we provide examples of how you can use your SPP Action Plan to communicate the steps you have taken to assess and establish a successful framework for SPP implementation. It can serve as reference for procurement practitioners to understand what is compliant, and what is not, as well as to ensure standardization, accountability, and continuity regardless of institutional leadership changes.

What you can include in an SPP Action Plan

For guidance regarding how to structure that plan, it can be useful to refer to the following Sample Action Plan created by UNEP, which you can access here:

Sample outline of an SPP Action Plan
Sample outline of an SPP Action Plan

Key Open SPP elements to include in your Action Plan

We have identified the key steps that you can take when getting started with Open SPP. Below we explain how you can communicate this in your Action Plan, and provide examples of how this has been done by public authorities across the world.

Enabling environment

In every country, public procurement is regulated by different laws, rules, and frameworks. One of the key steps when getting started with Open SPP, is identifying these frameworks, and assessing the scope they leave for the implementation of SPP practices. We explain how you can do this in the section Establish an enabling environment.

Communicating the result of this exercise in your Action Plan is an opportunity to establish trust by clearly defining how suggested Open SPP approaches fit into the current rules. In particular, the Action Plan should focus on communicating:

  • Relevant laws, policies, and plans, and how they can be interpreted for SPP implementation. This includes referencing current regulation regarding evaluation criteria, and any existing SPP regulatory enablers.

  • Changes or adjustments that will be introduced in order to increase the implementation scope. This can include, for example, establishing reserved contracts, or targets, for certain types of businesses, such as SMEs; or setting a procurement threshold to facilitate Open SPP implementation.

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Case Study In 2017, Argentina developed their National Sustainable Public Procurement Plan (in Spanish), which includes on pages 7 to 12, an overview of the international and national enabling context that underpins it. The Plan first introduces the international context, highlighting Argentina’s commitment to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and the collaborations between the Argentinian government and UNEP regarding the implementation of SPP. At the national level, the Plan includes the different regulations, policies, and plans that have been created within the context of SPP. This includes the Decree approved in 2016 which allows the National Procurement Office to include sustainability criteria in tender documents, and guidance regarding how the concept of “the most suitable offer” can be interpreted by procurement practitioners to allow for SPP implementation.

Prioritized procurement categories

In the section Prioritize, we have explained how this can be also useful to guide the development of sustainability criteria, and promote standard, and consistent, implementation of Open SPP. Once you have conducted this exercise, you can communicate the results in your Action Plan, including the following information:

  • Procurement categories which have been prioritized, as well as transparently sharing the reasons that have led to this decision.

  • Guidance regarding sustainability criteria that can be used for each of the prioritized areas. This can include guidance regarding which regulations, ecolabels, or sustainability requirements, such as energy efficiency, should be included in tender documents. You can also include information regarding where to access this information, as well as including any plans for developing standardized criteria at the national, regional, or local level.

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Case Study In 2021 Ireland published its Green Public Procurement Action Plan. The Action Plan prioritizes eight procurement product/service categories, which include construction, energy, transport, food and catering services, cleaning products and services, paper, uniforms and other textiles, and ICT.

On pages 21 to 57, the Plan includes specific information for each category. This includes information regarding specific regulations and policies that should be considered to procure more sustainably in each area, specific accreditations available, green tender examples, and key proposed actions for the implementation of green procurement practices.

Monitoring and evaluation

An essential part of all Open SPP action plans are the goals, outcomes, and indicators that have been set, and the system that will be implemented to measure progress against these.

In the Action Plan, you should include information regarding the goals that are pursued when implementing Open SPP, such as reducing carbon emissions, or promoting gender inclusion; the results and indicators selected to measure progress against these missions; and information regarding how these are going to be measured, including frequency, and assigned responsibilities.

For more guidance see section on monitoring & evaluation.

Capacity building plan

In the section Build support and capabilities, we have introduced some of the operational mechanisms that can be established to facilitate and enable implementation. These can include, for example, creating specific sustainable supplier catalogs, and activities designed to build capabilities amongst public procurement practitioners, and local suppliers.

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The Action Plan should include which mechanisms have already been established, and establish a plan with activities that will be carried out to develop them further.

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Case Study In 2021, the City of Cape Town published its Green Procurement Action Plan. The Plan includes seven operational objectives, including “Ensure that the City has in place appropriate policies to support green procurement, including associated administrative tools”, and “Monitor and evaluate the City’s performance in terms of green procurement”.

Each objective is associated with certain outcomes, and activities, which mostly refer to the creation of supporting mechanisms. These include for example, “Develop guidelines and specifications for prioritized goods”, or “Develop a variety of communication and training products and interventions aimed at City staff”.

The City has given each activity a timeframe for completion, which varies from 1-2 years, 3-5 years, and 6-10 years.

As well as presenting chosen SPP approaches, it is important to clearly communicate who will be responsible for the established SPP approaches, as well as the budget that will be allocated to carry these out:

Governance structure and responsibilities

The implementation of Open SPP is normally carried out by different institutional bodies, at the national level this often includes the Ministry of the Environment, and any relevant National Public Procurement authorities. The Action Plan should clearly allocate responsibilities and accountability between government agencies (and any other relevant stakeholders).

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Case Study In 2016, Ecuador published its first Sustainable Procurement Action Plan (ES). The Plan includes on pages 20 to 22 information regarding the governance structure that has been put in place to assign responsibilities regarding SPP.

The leading public authority is the National Public Procurement Agency (SERCOP) with support from the Ministry of the Environment. These two will also receive support from a working group which includes other ministries, such as the Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion (MIES), and the Ministry of Agriculture (MAGAP).

On page 28, a timeline with the activities that will be carried on during the first year of the plan is presented, assigning responsibilities to the different public authorities.

Assigned budget

Many of the activities associated with the implementation of Open SPP practices will need government funding. The Action Plan should openly share the financial estimated costs associated with the implementation of the activities that will be carried out in order to develop the needed supporting and capability-building mechanisms, as well as to monitor and communicate results.

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Case Study In 2021, the Basque Country published the Green Procurement and Contracting Programme of the Basque Country. This programme follows the previous Action Plans published in 2011 and 2016, this time establishing a roadmap for 2030. The Plan presents 10 lines of action that will be carried out between 2021 and 2030. Page 36 provides a clear overview of the budget allocated to each line of action, which adds to a total of 1.590.000 euros over the ten years.

Consider how your Action Plan will evolve

Action Plans are often published every 3 to 5 years, although they can be reviewed and updated yearly if needed to measure progress against objectives and targets. When designing your first Open SPP Action Plan, it is important to also consider what is the current scope and ambition of Open SPP practices, and how these will evolve in the future. The aspects extracted from page 87 of the World Bank’s GPP Handbook, can be useful when considering the scope and ambition of your Open SPP Action Plan:

Institutional coverage

Many countries start by working on the implementation of Open SPP in specific institutions, such as selected central governments, and gradually expand the scope to include all central governments, autonomous agencies and local authorities.

Procurement categories

Although countries start by selecting specific procurement categories to focus SPP efforts, which are usually those which result less complicated and can have the highest impact, these can be expanded to include those which result more complex. For more information on the prioritization process, see this section.

Environmental criteria

Environmental criteria recommended for inclusion in public procurement processes can also evolve in scope and complexity. Many countries start by recommending the use of environmental labels, and then include other calculations, such as GHG emissions, or Life Cycle Costing (LCC). This will mainly depend on the resources available, and market capability. For more information on recommending standardized sustainability criteria see this section.

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Remember, the ultimate goal is for sustainable procurement practices to be mainstreamed in public procurement. This means that, eventually, an SPP Action Plan will not be needed because sustainability will be automatically embedded in any plan regarding public procurement.