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23 December 2014

Policy makers yet to embrace cost-benefit analysis approach to decision-making

The use of a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) to make policy decisions is not being widely implemented, with many decision-makers believing that CBA can lead to a loss of control and influence over policy-making, a study including a series of interviews with those responsible for water policy management in Germany has revealed. The majority of interviewees perceived CBA to weaken their ability to make decisions based on their own expertise.

CBA is used to determine the cost of projects, policies or actions in terms of the environment and human welfare. It places a monetary value on aspects such as "ecosystem services", enabling such a value to be included in the decision making process. However, CBA has had only a limited impact on decision-making to date, as many refuse to implement it. Those interviewed felt the values in CBA calculations were too black and white, whereas human analysis can be more nuanced.

Established, traditional, procedures were seen by a majority as sufficient for decision making. The author of the study argues that to change the mindset towards CBA, a discussion should take place on how economic information should be integrated into the decision-making process, one that involves cooperation between those in academia who designed the approach, and the authorities implementing it.

For more information, visit [pdf].
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18 December 2014

German government publishes guide to procuring inkjet and laser printers

A new guide designed to make the public purchasing of sustainable IT hardware easier has been jointly published by the German Procurement Office of the Federal Ministry of the Interior, the Federal Employment Agency, the Federal Environment Agency, and tech association BITKOM. The guide specifically looks at public tendering for inkjet and laser printers. Criteria assessed includes energy consumption, emissions, and the recyclability of the devices.

"The guide is intended to provide reliable and comprehensible help to public sector purchasers, as well as aiding procurers in companies and private institutions to integrate environmental aspects into their procurement of printers and multi-function devices," said Isabel Judge of BITKOM. The guide feeds into the German Federal Government's strategy for public procurement, which takes into account the social, environmental and economic aspects of procurement.

Federal, state and local governments spend about €19 billion annually for ICT products and services, including almost €2 billion for IT hardware - focusing this demand on innovative and environmentally friendly products, can have a major impact on protecting the environment. "The procurement of environmentally friendly IT hardware is for us an important topic. This guide shows how our environmental goals can be translated into concrete, targeted values, backed up by certification arrangements," said Hans-Hermann Eggers of the Federal Environment Agency.

For more information, visit

16 December 2014

UK council scheme reduces waste and saves money

Warp It is a UK reuse scheme established in 2011 that reduces council waste and saves money by providing an online platform for councils to loan or give away unwanted public resources. Public authorities, schools, charities and other organisations can use the platform to acquire the resources they need for free or at a heavily reduced rate.

By placing resources up for grabs, namely office furniture and equipment, councils have seen significant public procurement savings. Northumberland County Council (UK) reduced procurement spending by 64 percent in one year, and 18 months later actual spending fell from £97,614 (€123,070) to £4,202 (€5,300). Dundee City Council (UK) has saved £100,000 (€126,080) in costs and donated over £20,000 (€25,200) in equipment to third sector organisations over a period of six months.

“Flexible working arrangements, office moves, downsizing and company expansion all affect the quantity and style of equipment required. Linking to an online platform, however, can alert staff to available items before they are needed, and negates the time consuming and expensive practice of raising purchase orders,” says Daniel O’Connor, Warp It Chief Executive. Notably, the website claims to have saved 995,004kg of CO2 and 432 days of staff time, while diverting 366,254kg of waste to date.

For more information, visit the Warp It website.

11 December 2014

Clean Fleets project launches new resources for public procurers

A series of resources aimed at helping public procurers to comply with the EU’s Clean Vehicles Directive have been released by the Clean Fleets project. The free publications, which include a guide, a life-cycle costing tool, and factsheets, provide up-to-date information and advice from experts and practitioners.

Titled “Procuring clean and efficient road vehicles”, the Clean Fleets guide presents in-depth information for public authorities and public transport operators tasked with purchasing vehicle fleets in accordance with EU legislation. Backed-up by real life examples from European public authorities, the guide shows how environmental criteria can be introduced at various stages of the procurement process.

The life-cycle costing tool empowers procurers to measure the cost of their fleet over its full life span, granting an insight into environmental impacts in addition to financial costs. The factsheets developed by the project provide definitions and pertinent information on a range of topics, including vehicle test cycles, EU legislation and policy, and more.

For more information, visit the Clean Fleets publications page.
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9 December 2014

ICLEI invites applications for Sustainable Economy and Procurement jobs

ICLEI Europe is searching for qualified candidates to fill two officer positions in its ever-growing Sustainable Economy and Procurement (SEP) team. The positions offer successful candidates the chance to support ICLEI in its mission to improve sustainable and innovative procurement at the local level, spread awareness of relevant concepts among public authorities, develop new approaches, and encourage policy developments at the European and international level.

ICLEI’s SEP team works closely with the European Commission and the United Nations on European and Global projects and initiatives. The candidates will benefit from ICLEI’s 18 years of experience in the field, gaining the chance to make a positive difference to public purchasing in Europe.
The positions run between March 2015 and February 2017 (with extensions envisaged) and are based in the European Secretariat in Freiburg (Germany). The deadline for applications is 15 January 2015.

The successful applicants will oversee the development and implementation of small or medium sized projects on sustainable procurement and the green economy. They will support ICLEI’s Sustainable Procurement Campaign, Procura+ ( through regular cooperation and communication with city representatives from around Europe, to help them drive green purchasing, ethical sourcing, energy efficiency, sustainable timber purchasing, innovative procurement, waste reduction, circular economy etc within their organisations. They will also support public authorities in developing and implementing sustainable procurement practices, policies and strategies, and undertake research, develop case studies and disseminate information to improve knowledge and skills on sustainable procurement.

For more information on the position, visit the ICLEI Europe website.

5 December 2014

New online platform makes Corporate Social Responsibility easier to verify

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Risk Check is an online platform aimed at businesses and entrepreneurs who purchase internationally produced products, export products or produce abroad. The platform uses public data sources about CSR risks related to international business activities and collates them into an easily-accessed mapping tool. Businesses and entrepreneurs can take a short test to outline which international CSR risks specific trade activities carry, and what steps can be implemented to minimise these risks.

The four main areas of CSR covered are labour rights, fair business practices, human rights and ethics, and the environment. Under these broad headings specific information on topics such as animal rights, conflict and security, and child labour is accessible. Filters can be placed, allowing users to generate information specific to their needs and concerns. Presently, the CSR Risk Check has 3,007 risks that potentially affect global supply chains, manufacturing, purchasing, and importing and exporting.

The CSR Risk Check was commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and developed by MVO Nederland and Efocus. The platform is based on the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) guidelines for multinational enterprises which set out principles and standards for responsible business conduct expected by the governments of the Netherlands and 45 other countries from multinational enterprises to observe.

For more information, visit the CSR Risk Check website.

3 December 2014

European environment ministers call for resource efficiency target and circular economy

European environment ministers have called for the European Commission to explore the introduction of an EU-wide non-binding aspirational resource efficiency target. Speaking in the European Environment Council, a sub-group (or configuration) of the European Council, the ministers further called for the promotion of circular economy principals and requested green employment to be included in the annual cycle of coordination of economic policies from 2015 onwards.

Following the Environment Council’s quarterly meeting in Luxembourg between the European environment ministers, outgoing Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik and Climate Change Commissioner Connie Hedegaard, a conclusions document was published supporting recent European Commission programmes, such as the Europe 2020 Strategy, and Towards a Circular Economy: A zero waste programme for Europe. Programmes on sustainable buildings, green employment, green action for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and on building a single market for green products to facilitate information on environmental performance are also praised.

The document concludes: “Greening the economy contributes to long term prosperity, and short term costs are likely to be compensated by multiple potential benefits in terms of increased competitiveness, jobs, improvement of security of resource supply, including energy and raw materials, inclusiveness, health and well being. Therefore for our future competitiveness and long-term sustainable and inclusive growth, a transition towards a resource efficient circular economy […] becomes essential.”

For more information, download the Environment Council conclusions.
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28 November 2014

China gathers GPP knowledge and know-how at EcoProcura

Beijing (China) was host to 60 participants at the ICLEI-organised event EcoProcura China 2014 – International Symposium on Municipal Green Procurement. The two day event saw an exciting exchange of experiences, best practice and information on green public procurement (GPP) between national and local governments from Asian and Europe, including China, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Experts, officials and solution providers all attended the event.

“Compared with developed countries in the West, China has started GPP late but our progress has been remarkable. The Chinese government is keen to learn from overseas experience to enrich the content of our GPP policies,” said Ying Wang, Director of the Procurement Management Office of China’s Ministry of Finance. Qi Zhai, Deputy Secretary General of the China Business Council for Sustainable Development, a partner of ICLEI in organising EcoProcura China 2014, said that as the largest consumer in the country, the Chinese government has a clear and crucial role in leading GPP.

This is the first time a Chinese city has hosted an EcoProcura event. Earlier this year ICLEI and the City of Ghent (Belgium) hosted 350 participants at the Europe-wide EcoProcura 2014 conference. “Through our cities network, we hope that by exchanging knowledge and practices, comparing progresses and setting up benchmarks, we can accelerate efforts and ambitions in global sustainability,” said Konrad Otto-Zimmermann, Founding Director of ICLEI and Chair of ICLEI’s Urban Agendas.

For more information, visit the ICLEI East Asia website.

26 November 2014

Mainz wins Local Climate Protection Award

The City of Mainz (Germany) has been presented with the Local Climate Protection Award for its comprehensive climate-friendly procurement policy. The City of Mainz’s commitment to green public procurement (GPP) covers all aspects of urban life from the purchase of printers and copiers, to the upgrading of street lights and new building construction. The city also offers its employees the use of bicycles and low-emission vehicles, demonstrating the ability to cut CO2 emissions while saving money.

Minister for Economic Affairs, Climate Protection, Energy and Regional Planning Eveline Lemke said: "By energy and resource-efficient procurement in the public sector, significant cost savings and CO2 reductions can be made. The city of Mainz has already shown, with the support of urban bodies and city institutions, a great commitment to achieve these goals. We see here how communities can use their market power to develop and popularise energy-saving techniques."

The Local Climate Protection Award has been presented to outstanding German municipalities and regions since 2009 as part of the National Climate Initiative, a joint undertaking with the German Institute for Urbanism. The award recognises exemplary climate protection projects and this year received 117 applications across three categories.

For more information, visit the Citizen’s Environment Portal website [in German].

19 November 2014

PROBIS calls for members to join Buyers Group

The Procuring Building Innovative Solutions (PROBIS) project, which aims to increase the energy efficiency and sustainability of European public buildings, is calling for public authorities and and companies to get involved. PROBIS is seeking members to join the project Buyers Group, and to potentially participate in project activities.

Led by Environment Park in Turin (Italy), the project is supported by ICLEI with targeted dissemination and networking activities linked to the Public Procurement of Innovation (PPI) Platform. Four PPI tenders will be launched within the project in three different European Union Member States. The tenders will focus on building innovative solutions in the following areas: envelope components (ENV); energy generation and distribution systems (EGD); and energy management systems (EMS). The selected solutions will be implemented and tested inside four pilot buildings in Miskolc (Hungary), Torino (Italy), Borlänge (Sweden) and the Lombardy Region (Italy). Different building typologies will be covered, including office buildings and social housing of different ages, to provide scope for replication of solutions at EU level.

Members of the Buyers Group will receive periodic updates of the project’s progress, have the opportunity to visit a PROBIS pilot project, and be involved in shaping the legal framework for PPI. Importantly, members are invited to attend dedicated technical seminars and dissemination events, and join the discussions on sustainable construction and shaping the project outcomes.

For more information, visit the PROBIS project website, and to join the Buyers Group contact
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