An introduction to the toolkit

Growing concerns over climate change and sustainability have driven governments across the world to make commitments across net zero carbon emission, reducing deforestation, and promoting sustainable supply chains.

A key route to deliver on those commitments is how governments make their purchases. Public procurement represents around 15% of global GDP, one in every 3 dollars that they spend, adding up to an enormous $13 trillion of spending every year. Procurement also accounts for 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions each year: that is seven times as much as the entire aviation industry.

Government purchasing also sets the tone for the wider business environment in the country. Done well, it can be a lever for innovation and entrepreneurship; done poorly, it will be a brake on further environmental and social progress.

Governments are only just embarking on buying sustainably and it can seem daunting to know where to start from incorporating product lifecycle costing, to buying more local and sustainable produce to sourcing more sustainable building materials for infrastructure.

This guide is the product of over 30 interviews with experts in national procurement authorities, often in lower tech and more challenging procurement environments. They identified that the key challenge was getting started and trying to wade through hundreds of pages of complicated expert criteria to translate them into simple strategies that can be tested and implemented quickly.

We aim to bridge that gap, giving a high level overview of the approaches that are already working and the best resources to implement and scale them, based on the key user needs that we heard from frontline practitioners.

Practitioners realize that they need to buy things in a fundamentally different way to deliver on sustainable procurement. To do that, they told us that they need to engage stakeholders better both from the private sector and civil society in understanding what solutions are available. They also identified the need for better information and data across government purchasing both to understand what is being bought and what the environmental and social outcomes of that spending are. These are gaps in the current guidance and are not things that traditionally, predominantly legal and compliance-focused approaches in procurement have focused on.

Fortunately we can help.

As you can see on the diagram below, in this introductory section we provide you with information on what Open SPP is, how it works, and how to navigate this toolkit. We also present the key insights gathered from research with users, and how they have shaped the design of this new resource.


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