Swedwatch’s key considerations for socially responsible public procurement
29 November 2022
Strengthen the EU public procurement directive from 2014 and make it mandatory to enforce human rights requirements in public contracts. This is one of ten key considerations in a new position paper by Swedwatch, calling on European and Swedish politicians to better utilise public procurement as a tool to mitigate and prevent human rights and environmental impacts in supply chains.
The economic value of public procurement – more than 2 trillion EUR per year or 14 percent of total GDP – makes it a strategic and important area for sustainable development. Not least in countries with low enforcement of human rights and lack decent working conditions and environmental protection, where many products purchased by the public sector are being produced.
For more than a decade Swedwatch has worked on the topic of public procurement, highlighting human rights impacts in public sector supply chains and showed how sustainable public procurement can be used as a tool for positive change. However contracting authorities are not utilising the full potential of socially responsible public procurement.
“Although some contracting authorities enforce and strategically monitor human rights requirements, 55 percent of procurement procedures in the EU use lowest price as the only award criterion, indicating neglect of sustainability aspects. This needs to change; sustainable procurement should be the norm for the public sector”, says Linda Scott Jakobsson, public procurement specialist at Swedwatch.
To shed light on what is needed to enhance and utilise public procurement as an effective tool to support sustainable development across EU member states, Swedwatch has identified ten key considerations for decision-makers in the EU and Sweden. These include the need for a strengthening of the 2014 EU directive on public procurement and aligning it with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights with the aim to safeguard human rights and protect the environment in the producing countries.
Swedwatch also suggests that the proposed EU directive of Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence should apply to all companies including SMEs and provide the possibility for procurers to exclude suppliers not compliant with the directive’s objectives. See the full list of considerations in the position paper.
“With the right preconditions, the public sector could really take a lead on this important issue”, says Linda Scott Jakobsson.
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Although some contracting authorities enforce and strategically monitor human rights requirements, 55 percent of procurement procedures in the EU use lowest price as the only award criterion.