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EcoProcura 2018
, the international conference on sustainable, strategic, circular and innovation public procurement, took place earlier this month in the Netherlands. We couldn’t attend unfortunately, but here are some of the highlights from the event we thought you might find of interest.

Dr. Bertrand Piccard, Chairman and Initiator of the Solar Impulse Foundation, called on procurers in his opening speech to become today’s pioneers and explorers. “It is not easy to do things differently. Today the challenge is not technology. It is psychology,” he said.

Mark Hidson, Global Director, ICLEI Sustainable Procurement Centre, introduced the conference theme of using procurement to meet strategic goals. He called on participants to think more about working collaboratively to overcome the barriers to strategic procurement and make its use more mainstream.

Supporting this notion, Irmfried Schwimann, Deputy Director-General, Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs of the European Commission, presented the Commission’s Communication on Making Public Procurement Work in and for Europe. 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” she said.

The document explains how public authorities can leverage their considerable buying power in a more strategic manner “to obtain better value for each euro of public money spent and to contribute to a more innovative, sustainable, inclusive and competitive economy.” It also outlines a public procurement strategy which sets out the overall policy framework and defines clear priorities to improve procurement in practice and support investment within the EU. It also proposes a Recommendation to ‘professionalise’ public buyers because, it says, “a skilful workforce is essential for effective implementation.” We may well come back to this idea in another post and look at what they mean by ‘professionalise’ – since the concept of a ‘licence to practice,’ has stirred mixed emotions among the procurement practitioner community in the past. The communication makes other solid recommendations, and you can read the whole document here.

Roald Lapperre, Director-General for the Environment and International Affairs, Ministry for Infrastructure and Water Management, The Netherlands, gave an example of using procurement strategically to meet policy aims and objectives. And in another very interesting session, Paul Iske of the Institute of Brilliant Failures, talks to Innovators Magazine about how we can learn from failures. “A brilliant failure is a well-prepared opportunity with a different outcome than planned and a learning effect,” says their website. It’s well worth a listen, and you can do that here.

And so to the more glamorous part of the event:

The Procura+ Awards 2018

We’ve been highlighting the winners of the Procura+ Awards for several years now, as they are good examples of public procurement success stories particularly in terms of sustainability and innovation.

This year the cities of Barcelona (Spain), Rotterdam (the Netherlands) and the Government of Flanders, scooped the winning prize in their respective categories.

Barcelona City Council took the top prize in ‘Procurement Initiative of the Year,’ after the city made sustainable public procurement mandatory, affecting more than 50,000 tenders a year. Janet Sanz, deputy mayor for ecology, urban planning and mobility at the city of Barcelona said the city had been “evolving its strategy and policy on sustainable procurement for over 15 years”. A 2018 municipal decree made sustainable procurement mandatory: “This covers EUR 1.1 billion of spending,” she said.

The Dutch city of Rotterdam took this year’s Innovation Procurement of the Year award for pioneering the procurement of innovative goods and services to make the city more accessible for the elderly or citizens with special needs, involving many local SMEs. The city’s vice mayor Arno Bonte said: “We are honoured to receive the Procura+ Award for Innovation Procurement of the Year! The city of Rotterdam continuously seeks innovative and sustainable solution to our citizens’ needs and I am delighted that the hard work of our procurement team is recognised at a European level.”

The Government of Flanders took the prize for Sustainable Procurement of the Year for setting up a major framework contract for sustainable office supplies. The administration set a target that “at least 50% of products meet sustainability criteria”, with a 2020 goal of 100% sustainable public procurement. “The Government of Flanders recognises sustainable and innovative procurement as a strategic objective,” said Liesbeth Homans, vice-minister-president of the Government of Flanders, “…we strive to ensure positive green, social and economic outcomes in all tenders …”

Congratulations to all for these success stories, including to all runners up and shortlisted, more of which you can read about here on the Procura+ website.

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