Sustainable Public Procurement


Central point of contact – Sustainable Public Procurement
Public Governance departement
Boudewijnlaan 30 bus 35, 1000 Brussels
T +32 491 96 86 63

The Government of Flanders attaches great importance to sustainable development, and this in a number of different domains. 

Sustainable public procurement are public contracts whereby the tendering authority integrates environmental, social, and economic criteria into all the phases of its public commissions. In the process, solutions are sought that will exert the least possible impact on the environment for the entire duration of their life cycle while, in addition, being recognized as socially and ethically justifiable. This approach promotes the dissemination of environment-conscious technologies, social innovation, and the development of environmental, socio-ethical responsible products and services.

It is by means of sustainable public procurement that the Government of Flanders aims at stimulating sustainable consumption and production. It is, furthermore, expected that the Government of Flanders will, by its own decisions and actions, provide the kind of template fit to serve as a role model and, in consequence, will inspire and stimulate other actors to follow suit.

The ambitious objective is to achieve 100% sustainable public procurement by the year 2020. In order to achieve this ambitious goal, the Government of Flanders has already adopted two ‘Flemish Action Plans for Sustainable Public Procurement (2009-2011 and 2012-2014). As it was opted to draw up four consecutive action plans, each of which covers a three-year period (2009-2011, 2012-2014, 2015-2017 and 2018-2020), the Action Plan 2012-2014 will be followed by 2 other plans which will further develop and adjust the policy.

The Flemish Action Plan for Sustainable Public Procurement 2009-2011 (in dutch) aims to provide a process around sustainable public procurements with a novel dynamic and to have it conducted in a more coordinated manner. Developing such a policy in a large organization as the Government of Flanders requires a good coordination and the cooperation of many experts and many entities. For that reason a Task Force, in which ten policy areas join forces, was established in execution of the first Action Plan. The Task Force consists of different buyers and experts that cooperate in executing as many actions from the Action Plan as possible.

The Action Plan 2009-2011 also focusses on the promotion of social criteria and identifies the following ‘quick-win’ product groups: 

Service vehicles

  • Printing
  • Electricity
  • Offices buildings
  • Nutrition and catering
  • Maintenance services
  • Hardware
  • Lumber
  • Office equipment/accessories and furniture
  • Work clothing and protective outfits
  • Cleaning products and cleaning services
  • European Presidency

On 21 December 2012, the Government of Flanders adopted the Flemish Action Plan for Sustainable Public Procurement 2012-2014 (in dutch). This action plan is the successor to the first Action Plan (2009-2011).

When drawing up the Action Plan 2012-2014, it was found that the proposed objectives of the 2009-2011 Action Plan were achieved. Indeed, this action plan has led to new dynamics in the sustainable public procurement process, a well-structured operation, a more coordinated dissemination of information and a better consultation between the different parties involved on the various policy levels.

The second Flemish Action Plan for Sustainable Public Procurement contains actions and measures to be implemented by the Government of Flanders in order to accelerate the inclusion of sustainability criteria in public contracts. The action plan has been drawn up by the Task Force.

The second action plan focuses, among other things, on the following main lines of action:

  • Cooperation with the other policy levels,
  • Monitoring of sustainable public procurement,
  • Focus on framework contracts,
  • Sustainable public procurement as leverage for a sustainable materials management,
  • The use of LCC in sustainable public procurement,
  • Sustainable public procurement of innovation (PPI),
  • Sustainability in public-private partnership (PPP),
  • Increasing broad support of sustainable public procurement,
  • Social considerations: an integrated part of sustainable public procurement,
  • Sustainability criteria and objectives per product group,
  • Central point of contact for sustainable public procurement for communication, awareness raising and guidance of entities in the integration of sustainability criteria into tender documents.

It is also essential that every senior civil servant is recommended to embed sustainability in public procurement procedures. Moreover, senior civil servants of entities contracting large (framework) contracts for their own use or acting as procurement body for other entities will delegate a representative to the Sustainable Public Procurement Task Force, with the aim of creating sustainable framework agreements which are accessible to a large number of entities.