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Contributing to Green Procurement: The situation in Spain

It is over two decades that nations around the world admitted that production patterns and unsustainable consumption were the main sources of environmental degradation and social injustice[1]. To address this issue, back in 2002, many countries committed to "Promote public procurement policies that promote the creation and dissemination of goods and services that do not cause harm to the environment".[2] This was meant to decouple the existing relationship between economic growth and environmental degradation, so new models for sustainable action had to be drawn up.


The European Union has led this process with the gradual introduction of green public procurement, along with the deployment of resources and tools to carry it out correctly, based on the reform of the legal framework for procurement. These amendments aim to "increase the efficiency of public expenditure, by facilitating participation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in public procurement, and to enable contractors to make better use of public procurement in support of common societal objectives»[3] All this, together with the provisions of the 2030 Agenda, the [4]Sustainable Development Goals and the European Green Deal,[5] aims to lead the economy of the European Union towards circular and more sustainable practices.



In Spain, most of the contracts made by public administrations are products that could be purchased following environmental criteria, so it is considered green purchase. Since 2018, green purchase in Spanish public administrations is being developed[6]. However, the main conclusions of a study carried out by the National Environment Congress show that almost two thirds of local and regional administrations have reached agreements to implement the green purchasing model, but only 22.7% keep explicit commitments. So, even if we are on the right path, their development feels a bit slow.


At more regional level, in the Basque Country, IHOBE (public environmental management agency) has been working on green purchase public policies for 15 years. The Basque Country is a pioneer region in the transition towards more sustainable development models and has achieved a series of milestones over the years. Several green purchase programs have been developed by now and the work done in the territory can be an example of success.


The scheme below shows a comparison between the programs on green purchase in national (Spanish) and regional (Basque) Administrations



The programs listed in the scheme work on the criteria to consider a product green. These products are gathered in different categories on which the programs themselves have set quantitative targets. The ones more related to the work we are developing in RECON MATIC are shown in the chart below.

The work carried out over the four years of this project will contribute to the spread of knowledge on waste recovery, identifying the planning/design, building, operation, reuse and demolition of built structures as key phases; this will allow to prevent and minimize waste generation and help guide/improve decision-making processes in the reuse/recycling of materials and contribute to further develop green criteria and programs regarding CDW which seems to be essential in light of the ambitious figures of green public procurement expected by 2025 in Europe (55% of green purchase in the categories shown)



[1] Agenda 21, 1992 conference of UN on Environment and Development. [2] Plan of Implementation of the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development, 2002. [3] Directive 2014/24/EU of 26 February 2014 on public procurement and repealing Directive 2004/18/EC. [4] Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. United Nations General Assembly, 2015. [5] Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the European Council, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions "The European Green Deal" COM(2019) 640 final. European Commission, 2019.

[6] State of development of green public procurement in Spain. Conama, 2014.

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