All State contracts to consider environmental impact

The Minister for Finance & Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe TD; the Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton TD, and Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Patrick O’Donovan TD, today (Monday,21/10/2019) welcomed the publication of Circular 20/2019: Promoting the use of Environmental and Social Considerations in Public Procurement.

The Climate Action Plan will require every public body to have a climate mandate. A key element of such a mandate will be using public procurement to deliver change. This circular demonstrates the Government’s priority in promoting Green Public Procurement by asking Departments and Offices to consider the inclusion of green criteria in their procurements in the context of its wider commitments under the Climate Action Plan.

Minister Donohoe welcomed the circular’s publication saying: ‘Tackling climate change is a key Government priority. That is why I, and my Department and the Office of Government Procurement (OGP), are taking the steps to deliver this initiative and to further promote actions that will have a positive impact on our climate and reduces the negative impact on our environment. This circular, a commitment under the Climate Action Plan, is a positive development and provides a clear signal of the direction of travel. Green public procurement (GPP) is about leveraging the State’s purchasing power to choose more environmentally friendly goods, services and works and help contribute to more sustainable consumption and production’.

“My Department, through the OGP, and in line with the European Commission priority of using procurement in a more strategic manner, will proactively promote green public procurement. I am working very closely with my colleagues, Minister Bruton and Minister of State O’Donovan, on the practical steps necessary to give effect to this important policy.”

Minister Bruton also welcomed this development, saying: ‘This is a crucial change, which has the potential to be a critical tool as we rollout the Climate Action Plan. It will ensure that state contracts include the full life cycle cost of our purchases. Over €12bn is invested by the state each year. This investment can now be leveraged to focus on sustainability as a key criteria, which is not only important from a climate perspective but will also ensure that true value for money is obtained’.

Minister of State O’Donovan, who has special responsibility for public procurement, said: ‘The circular sends an important signal of the Government’s commitment to opening public procurement up to environmental and social considerations. A wide range of policy areas come under the heading of social considerations including, for example, environmental sustainability, disability access, training for young or disadvantaged people, social enterprises and increasing access for SMEs and start-ups. The structure for progressing these considerations is the Social Considerations Advisory Group, a cross-Government initiative established earlier this year. This group brings together officials from across Government and is considering what and how social policy objectives can be advanced appropriately and effectively through public procurement’.

The Climate Action Plan is the Government’s plan to ensure Ireland reaches the 2030 emissions targets, putting us on a trajectory to be net zero emissions by 2050.

The circular is the latest development following publication, by the Office of Government Procurement last December, of an Information Note on Incorporating Social Considerations into Public Procurement and the establishment of the cross Departmental Social Considerations Advisory Group in March this year. These developments promote and facilitate the inclusion of social considerations, including environmental considerations, in a structured manner and are aimed at helping policy makers and procurement practitioners understand how procurement can be used to support advancement of existing social policy objectives, the wider context and the implications of including them in procurement projects.

The Government has agreed that there will be a phased introduction of green criteria targeting priority products and services as well as building appropriate green criteria into OGP frameworks and providing support and guidance to procurers.