An estimation of the potential benefits of a Green Public Procurement (GPP) have been done in the frame of the RELIEF project (Research of green purchasing), a research project co-funded by the European Commission, concluded in 2003, aimed to assess the potential environmental benefits that would result if all European countries implemented green procurement. Afterwards the EU Commission published also the "Buying green!" manual, presenting the effective approaches and methods to implement GPP in the calls for proposals defined by public authorities, as well as several examples of administrations that have obtained significant benefits from the introduction of green purchases. However, obstacles to the spread of GPP still persist. This is especially the lack of awareness of the role that green purchases can play as a tool for achieving sustainability and environmental protection objectives and the lack of information for public purchasers on the possibility of including ecological criteria in the purchasing procedures. In addition also operational barriers exist, such as:
- choices based solely on the purchase price;
- lack of dialogue and coordination between different sectors within the PA;
- poor planning of purchasing strategies;
- difficulties in evaluating offers;
- lack of clear information on the environmental impacts of products and services.
The GPP InfoNET project defined some specific goals to address the above problems. The main aim was to raise awareness of the role of GPP in the implementation of sustainable consumption and production strategies, including the promotion of environmental technologies, actions that, in practice, could fill the information gap which hinders the implementation of GPP.
The GPP infoNet project supported the creation of a network composed of 9 public - Italian and European - administrations to facilitate the promotion and dissemination of green purchases in the PA (GPP). The parallel activation of regional networks has reinforced the conviction that the sharing of methods, best practices and critical issues makes it possible to overcome the obstacles in the application of Green Public Procurement strategies and to replicate the experiences.
The project has also enhanced previous GPP experiences. In public administrations where the practice of green purchasing was scarcely used, a shared culture was promoted to support this new public procurement strategy and at the same time adequate tools and knowledge were disseminated. The main objectives of the project were to:
- reduce resource consumption and environmental impacts in the purchases of goods and services by local authorities;
- prepare the ground for the introduction and implementation of National Plans for GPP;
- promote the implementation of GPP at national and European level.
To this purpose the following goals were set up:
- raising awareness of the role of GPP to promote sustainable consumption and production strategies;
- filling the information gap that hinders the implementation of GPP.
Fasi del Progetto
The project was managed by a steering committee coordinated by the Province of Cremona and formed by a technical representative of each partner (Region of Liguria, Region of Sardinia, Agenda 21 Local Coordination and Ecosystems S.r.l.). The role of the structure was to standardize the initiatives put in place and to ensure the respect of the deadlines. Territorial networks have been set up by promoting one or more local institutions supported by a technical secretariat.
The project website and the newsletter were the fundamental tools for presenting and communicating the best practices developed by each network.
The work program of the networks foresaw to start with a regional kick-off seminar. The topics covered by the networks were:
- how to use GPP to achieve waste reduction objectives and the other objectives setup in the specific strategies;
- the role of GPP in reducing climate-changing gases and promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy;
- definition of the criteria for drawing up “green” tenders and tender specifications foreseeing the use of eco-labels and environmental management systems in compliance with the rules governing public tenders;
- introduction of the Life cycle costing (LCC) principle in the purchasing procedures in order to take environmental as well as economic advantages.
GPP infoNet was articulated in the following steps:
- preparatory actions for the identification of the target regions, creation of a mailing lists, and updating and translating in English the GPP Manual and the Open book CD-Rom. This guideline addresses the main themes of Green Public Procurement with the aim to put in evidence doubts and difficulties and, at the same time, to present the techniques, best practices, and possible useful solutions for those who want to align with green purchases. The CD ROM, downloadable in .zip format, contains the main official reference documents for those who wish to have more information on GPP. Numerous copies have been produced/ printed both of the Open Book (in Italian and English) and of the GPP Manual;
- organization of 6 regional seminars, in Lombardy (May 19, 2009), Liguria (June 5, 2009), Sardinia (July 7), Lazio (November 26, 2009), Sicily (November 6, 2009) and Campania (November 27, 2009);
- creation of 6 regional networks (Lombardy, Liguria, Sardinia, Campania, Lazio, Sicily) supported by a technical secretariat in which representatives of local administrations took part. Their goal was to strengthen the sharing of methods and best practices in order to overcome the obstacles in applying Green Public Procurement strategies and to replicate experiences;
- organization of 2 nation-wide information days on GPP, consisting in seminars, conferences and training moments. The GPP days were anticipated by minor local events in which all members of the network have actively participated;
- interregional meetings for the exchange of best practices, one in Comiso and Cremona, the second in Cagliari and the third in Genoa, which allowed comparison with other Italian and European regions to share the results and develop new ideas for the dissemination of GPP;
- creation of regional GPP networks in the European regions. 3 European regional networks have been created on the basis of the experience of the Italian regional networks, both in terms of the structure and the adopted working methods and methodologies. The regions involved were: Catalonia (Spain); Lodzkie (Poland); Prahova (Romania). The model adopted was that of the "Green Procurement" Working Group of the Italian Local Agenda 21 Coordination.
An intense work has been carried out to overcome the information gaps that prevent the implementation of GPP as well as the networking between the stakeholders. The definition of a common organizational and work model has led to the improvement of the networks’ functioning also in very different territories and with different experiences. The documents produced by the working groups of the regional networks can be taken, also by public bodies in other regions, as reference for the start of green purchasing procedures and policies. In summary the most important results obtained were:
- drafting of the GPP manual dedicated to local administrations and aimed at making available to the purchasing managers of the provinces and municipalities an easy-to-apply tool for drawing up “green tenders” in many sectors, but also for guiding decision-makers in the implementation of a GPP Action Plan;
- development and publication of 85 "green" technical specifications;
- involvement of 437 users in the infoNet GPP Networks;
- organization of 2 European conferences;
- implementation of 215 best practices;
- organization of 59 workshops with 26 thematic discussion groups.
- participation to the BuyGreen Forum. The International Green Procurement Forum is born from the experience of the project and is organized annually in Rome. This is a very important result in terms of replicability of the methodologies and dissemination of the best practices as it has made it possible to broaden the audience of stakeholders and enhance the operation of the networks;
- enhancement of the achievements. In some target regions (Liguria and Sardinia) activities have been carried out to strengthen the obtained results, especially by creating synergies with other territorial initiatives and programs (e.g LIFE PROMISE project in Liguria and Lazio; actions financed by the ERDF OP in Sardinia, calls for funding for local authorities in Campania, definition of support actions in Sicily).