12.7 Sustainable public procurement
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The Public Procurement Law (Act against Restraints of Competition (GWB), Regulation and the Ordinance on the Award of Public Contracts (VgV), sector-specific procurement regulations) is based on EU law. The GWB regulates that aspects of environmental protection must be taken into account when awarding contracts. Regulations in the VgV place the application of sustainability aspects partly at the discretion of the public client. The Federal Climate Protection Act (KSG) introduced a preferential obligation for climate-friendly products and services in federal public procurement. A similar provision is made for resource-saving products and services in the amended Closed Substance Cycle and Waste Management Act (KrWG). Federal procurement agencies must also apply the General Administrative Regulation for the Procurement of Energy-Efficient Services (AVV EnEff). There are also mandatory regulations at state level to anchor sustainability aspects in public procurement.
In order to promote sustainable procurement in Germany, the Federal Government has established information and support services for public clients. As the federal government's central information and advisory office on sustainable public procurement, the ‘Centre of Competence for Sustainable Procurement’ (KNB) supports public clients at federal, state and local level in the consideration of sustainability criteria. Since 2012, public procurers can contact the KNB via telephone hotlines, e-mail and a portal to obtain information and training. The web portal ‘Compass Sustainability’ (Kompass Nachhaltigkeit) provides practical support for procurement managers with further background information on sustainable procurement, on the integration of sustainability criteria according to the specifications of the public procurement laws, or with a supplier overview. The Federal Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt (UBA)) also offers a comprehensive range of information for practitioners with training scripts, tender recommendations, product guides, life cycle cost calculators, practical examples and much more.
In addition, the Federal Government's Sustainability Action Programme contains concrete regulations on the orientation of public procurement towards the guiding principle of sustainable development. These include targets for specific product groups (paper, textiles, vehicles) and annual monitoring. In addition, numerous civil society actors are also campaigning for more sustainability in procurement - such as the Service Agency of Communities in the One World (SKEW) or the Fairtrade Towns initiative - both with a special focus on municipalities.
In the course of updating the German Sustainability Strategy 2018, indicators for sustainable procurement were introduced for the first time. According to the specifications of the Sustainability Action Programme, the share of paper bearing the "Blue Angel" seal in the total paper consumption of the federal administration is to reach 95 percent by 2020, and CO2 emissions from standard public-sector vehicles are to be significantly reduced. The indicators developed for this purpose are key indicators. To measure the implementation of SDG 12.7 at the international level, the study looks at how many countries have policies and action plans for sustainable public procurement. Germany has already met this indicator through the above-mentioned programs and measures (see also National Reporting Platform (NRP)).