4 October 2018

Bertrand Piccard challenges public authorities to buy better

EcoProcura 2018, the international conference on sustainable, strategic, circular and innovation procurement, which is now in its twentieth year, kicked-off yesterday in European Green Capital Nijmegen (The Netherlands), setting the scene on how procurement can evolve as a policy tool to achieve strategic objectives and targets.

The three-day conference, which is taking place in conjunction with the Dutch National Annual Sustainable Procurement Conference (MVI Congress), began with an inspirational speech from Dr. Bertrand Piccard, Chairman and Initiator of the Solar Impulse Foundation, who called on procurers to become today’s pioneers and explorers. “It is not easy to do things differently. Today the challenge is not technology. It is psychology,” said Piccard.

The conference theme of using procurement to meet strategic goals was introduced by Mark Hidson, Global Director, ICLEI Sustainable Procurement Center. Hidson reflected on the barriers to strategic procurement, which will be discussed throughout the conference and called on participants to work collaboratively to mainstream the use of procurement, sending a message to others that this is the way forward.

Irmfried Schwimann, Deputy Director-General, Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, European Commission presented the Commissions’ Communication on Making Public Procurement work in and for Europe, which was published in October 2017. In particular, she focused on partnerships with big buyers and the impact this could have on the market, training public procurers, digital transformation and the transition to e-procurement that will soon be completed. “We must use public procurement as a lever for sustainable growth, bring it to a strategic level that includes green, social and innovative aspects” said Schwimann.

Roald Lapperre, Director-General for the Environment and International Affairs, Ministry for Infrastructure and Water Management, The Netherlands, outlined how they have used procurement strategically to meet policy aims and objectives. “I want to use this enormous purchasing power to influence the market to achieve climate goals. My national objective is to reduce carbon emissions by one megatonne a year by 2022. That’s more than three times the energy used by all the households in the city of Nijmegen.”

The potential of sustainable, circular and innovation procurement as a tool to meet strategic objectives will be explored further during the conference, with the second conference day focusing on behavioral change needed to make strategic procurement happen.

For more information and to see what participants can expect from the conference, click here.