Kick-off Webinar on Partnership and Capacity Building for Sustainable Public Procurement in the Baltic Sea Region

The importance of a cross-sectoral approach and the economic benefits of Sustainable Public Procurement was emphasised during the kick-off webinar on the partnership and capacity building for Sustainable Public Procurement in the Baltic Sea Region.

On 26 October 2023, the Sustainable and Prosperous Region Priority Area of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS), in the framework of the project funded by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket), launched a new initiative, “Partnership and Capacity Building for Sustainable Public Procurement in the Baltic Sea Region”. The opening webinar brought together representatives from central public procurement authorities of five Member States of the CBSS, as well as international and research institutions.

The session featured insightful contributions from the OECD and HEUNI, a Finnish research institute focusing on responsible business conduct and preventing labour exploitation. It was emphasised that the social dimension of sustainability is equally vital alongside environmental and economic aspects. Strengthening this social dimension in public procurements is crucial, as it serves as a powerful tool to enhance social and economic innovation.

“Sustainable public procurement is a powerful tool to boost social and economic innovation. By pooling knowledge, experiences, and resources through joint initiatives and projects, such as partnership building for sustainable public procurement, we enhance the market for environmentally and socially sustainable goods and services, contributing to the implementation of the strategic objectives of Agenda 2030,” highlighted Gustav Lindström, Deputy Director General of the CBSS, in his opening remarks.

Lena Diesing, a policy analyst from the OECD, presented the updated guidelines on responsible business conduct. Policy coherence and due diligence have been given high priority in the guidelines.

Anni Lietonen, a researcher for the HEUNI Institute in Finland, presented guidelines on labour exploitation prevention and public procurement. Key principles included sustainability and respect for human rights incorporated into the organisation’s strategy and policies. A risk-based approach in the planning and preparation of procurement was recommended, urging responsible actors to go beyond legal requirements and include measures and criteria that enhance transparency.

Looking ahead, participants stressed the importance of maintaining an informal format for networking and discussing Sustainable Public Procurement:

  • Keep the format as the informal possibility to meet colleagues and discuss SPP practices. 
  • Introduce more concrete projects.
  • Topics of sustainable construction projects 
  • Clear goals are needed – it should be clear what is to be attained. 

Building on the feedback received, the CBSS plans to broaden the audience and provide specific thematic examples of how sustainability requirements and criteria are applied and implemented in public procurement contracts.