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UN launches scheme to use global public procurement to boost sustainability

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The United Nations (UN) has launched a scheme aiming to use global government spending worth trillions of dollars to promote sustainability.

The Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP) programme will “assist governments to redirect public spending into goods and services that bring significant environmental and social benefits”.

The project, co-led by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, and the Korea Environmental Industry and Technology Institute, aims to achieve this by improving “knowledge of sustainable procurement’s benefits and supporting implementation through access to experts and tools”.

Under the scheme stakeholders will be able find and share information on sustainability projects, build networks and identify partners through the Sustainable Consumption and Production Clearinghouse website.

Achim Steiner, UN under-secretary-general and UNEP executive director, said: “OECD nations spent an average 13 per cent of GDP on public procurement in 2011, while in some developing nations this can hit 20 per cent. This adds up to trillions of dollars globally, demonstrating the scale of the opportunity ahead.

“Governments can use this potential to lead markets onto a sustainable path by demanding goods and services that conserve natural resources, create decent green jobs and improve livelihoods around the globe.”

The project has backing from the European Commission, the China Ministry of Environmental Protection, the OECD and the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

The SPP scheme is the first action to be launched as part of the 10-year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production, established after Rio+20. A governance structure has been established to drive the projects. Further programmes covering consumer information, education, lifestyles, buildings and construction and tourism are expected to be launched in 2014.