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Using Sustainable Public Procurement for COVID-19 Recovery and Accelerating the Great Transition

Humanity is faced with a challenge unprecedented in recent history. Approaching one year since the outbreak, the COVID-19 pandemic has cost more than one million lives worldwide, but its impact extends even further. GDP is contracting globally on a rate three times worse than the 2009 global financial crisis (World Bank 2020) with a projected negative global GDP growth of -4.4 percent (IMF 2020); levels of uncertainty in the population are staggering (World Bank 2020); 130 million people could be pushed into starvation due to the pandemic (UN 2020); unemployment rates soared (ILO 2020) which in many countries equals a loss of health insurance for affected people; micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are badly hit in many countries due to their inability to maintain cash flow; hazardous waste production increased with higher production from the pharmaceutical and medical sectors; and more.

In addition to this, the pandemic is also affecting the world of public procurement: competition among public buyers at different levels of governments cause price increases - particularly for medical and health-related products; supply bottlenecks emerge due to serious disruptions of global supply chains; stimulus measures announced by major economies show a significant lack of sustainability consideration; several countries introduce export prohibitions and restrictions on essential goods; to name a few.

Recovering with momentum - public expenditure as a key driver for the transition to sustainable, resilient and circular economies

Public procurement plays a key role in global response mechanisms. Due to the severity of the crisis, immense resource levels are being mobilised under pressing time constraints. However, many aspects of the origin and impact of the pandemic can be linked to the pre-pandemic practices, pressing inequalities and short-term thinking. Sustainable public procurement (SPP) constitutes an invaluable tool to use these extraordinary circumstances to build forward better and move towards environmental sustainability, social resilience and circular economy.

The One Planet Network SPP Programme is a global multi-stakeholder partnership of governments, non-governmental organisations and corporations with the objective of advancing awareness and capacity in SPP to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 12 - “ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns”.

Collectively, we are working towards addressing the pandemic in diverse ways under the umbrella of sustainability. 

Sectorial approaches to responsible recovery SPP Programme Call to Action

Photo credit: Jakub Nawrot - Unsplash

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