EcoProcura 2018: The CO2 Performance Ladder as a means to accelerate sustainable procurement

From October 3rd till 5th, the Foundation for Climate Friendly Procurement and Business (in Dutch: SKAO) will present the CO2 Performance Ladder during EcoProcura in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. EcoProcura is a conference for public procurement in which policy meets practice and where professionals gather to share innovations and experiences that contribute to sustainable procurement. With its presence at EcoProcura, SKAO aims to introduce the CO2 Performance Ladder as a means to accelerate sustainable procurement in various European countries.

During the EcoProcura 2018 that takes place from Wednesday the 3rd of October until Friday the 5th of October, SKAO will be presenting the following sessions:

- The Green Deal Sustainable civil engineering: a key driver for transition on Wednesday the 3rd of October from 16:00 till 17:20

- Market Lounge 2: The CO2 Performance Ladder, low carbon procurement made easy on Friday the 5th of October from 10:50 till 12:20

Green Public Procurement

The European Commission has launched a program called Green Public Procurement (GPP) or green purchasing to stimulate Europe’s public authorities to opt for environmentally friendly goods, services and works. According to the European Commission, these public authorities are major consumers. By using their purchasing power to choose for goods and services that are developed in a sustainable and responsible fashion, the authorities can make a significant contribution to sustainable consumption and production.

However, the GPP is a voluntary program. In order for it to be effective, it requires clear and verifiable environmental criteria for products and services in the public procurement process. The challenge is to scale up GPP for sustainable procurement to become common practice and business as usual. Furthermore, green purchasing requirements should also be compatible between Member States of the European Commission. That is where the CO2 Performance Ladder comes along.

“The Ladder is the fastest growing instrument for sustainable procurement in the Netherlands”, says Gijs Termeer, manager of the SKAO. “This system can also contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions and accelerate sustainable procurement in other European countries. The reason of our presence at EcoProcura is to make public authorities and commissioning parties aware of the opportunities that the Ladder brings and to make them enthusiastic for the implementation of the Ladder in their local markets.”

Climate becomes more urgent

In 2014 EcoProcura was held in the Belgian city of Ghent. During this conference, SKAO had also presented the CO2 Performance Ladder to an audience of local authorities, commissioning parties and procurement practitioners. “Now that the Paris Climate Agreement has been agreed upon in 2015, there is a growing urgency to reduce the environmental impact of products, works and services”, says Termeer. “And sustainable procurement is becoming more and more important for various European countries,” The manager of SKAO mentions Belgium as an example. In Belgium, the authorities are almost ready to implement the CO2 Performance Ladder.

Another relevant development is the INTERREG program called ‘Power of Procurement’, in which SKAO collaborates with authorities from North-West European countries, such as Germany, France, England, Ireland and Belgium. The program is initiated by the European Union. Termeer: “Four years ago our message on the opportunities of the CO2 Performance Ladder was relevant, but now it has become even more relevant and more urgent. If the European Union and its member states would use the GPP to its full potential, it would create more opportunities to accelerate sustainability within various business sectors, especially those in which public authorities have a large procurement power and which are carbon intensive, like infrastructure and ICT.”

Since 2014 the CO2 Performance Ladder has expanded to almost 100 public authorities in the Netherlands that make use of the sustainable procurement instrument. These public authorities spend a total of 4 billion euro’s per year on procurement. The CO2 Performance Ladder is implemented in almost 10 percent of all procurements in the Netherlands. Moreover, research shows that organizations certified on the CO2 Performance Ladder annually reduce 3,2 percent of their carbon emissions, which is two times the Dutch average of 1,5 percent. Due to the notion that the CO2 Performance Ladder accelerates CO2 reduction, a growing number of public authorities have not only implemented the Ladder as a procurement instrument, but also obtained a certificate on the Ladder.

According to the manager of SKAO, local authorities need to be aware of the markets in which they operate, in order for an instrument such as the CO2 Performance Ladder to be implemented. “There are many factors that can determine successful implementation of the Ladder. The instrument requires public authorities and contractors to engage in dialogues for sustainable innovations to be applied and large amounts of carbon emissions to be reduced. Moreover, consistent and substantiated policies on green procurement are also necessary for public authorities to act upon. If there is no such policy or lack thereof, then it becomes very difficult for the Ladder to be relevant for other European countries.”

Collaboration for green procurement

Each country has its own specific policy on procurement and local markets that operate in different ways. Therefore Termeer advices national and local authorities that want to implement the CO2 Performance Ladder as a means of sustainable procurement to analyze whether the CO2 Performance Ladder would suit their market. Of course SKAO is always willing to assist in such an analysis.

“Collaboration is essential. Through EcoProcura, SKAO does not only aim to make professionals in the procurement industry aware of the benefits of the CO2 Performance Ladder. We also aim to build and maintain our relationships and collaborate with international parties to make sustainable procurement with the CO2 Performance Ladder a reality”, says Termeer.