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UNEP Launches Sustainable Government Procurement Program

unep imageThe United Nations Environment Program has started a global initiative to help governments redirect public spending into goods and services that bring significant environmental and social benefits.The program is first to get underway as part of the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production (10YFP).

By improving knowledge of sustainable procurement’s benefits and supporting implementation through access to experts and tools, the Sustainable Public Procurement Programme aims to help governments to begin demanding goods and services that conserve natural resources, create decent green jobs, and improve livelihoods around the globe.
The program is co-led by the UNEP, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, and the Korea Environmental Industry and Technology Institute.

OECD nations spent 13 percent of their GDP, on average, on public procurement in 2011, according to UNEP executive director Achim Steiner. In some developing nations, the rate hit 20 percent. This adds up to trillions of dollars, “demonstrating the scale of the opportunity ahead,” Steiner says.

Existing initiatives from around the globe prove that sustainable procurement transforms markets, boosts eco-industries, saves money, conserves natural resources and fosters job creation, according to the UNEP. The group cites the following examples:

  • Indian Railways replaced more than one million incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient fluorescent lamps in 400,000 employees’ homes, saving more than 100,000 MWh of energy and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 90,000 metric tons each year.
  • In Brazil, the Foundation for Education Development saved 8,800 cubic meters of water and 1,750 metric tons of waste by using notebooks made from recycled paper in Sao Paulo schools.
  • In France, a contract for the purchase of toner cartridges was awarded to an organization that, between 2009 and 2011, recovered 11,500 kilograms of waste, saved the government 30 percent in costs and created nine full-time jobs for disabled people.
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