The Basque Government requires environmental clauses to be included in tendering processes of its Ministries and public entities
- The government is thus consolidating green public procurement, following on from the approval of the 2030 Green Public Procurement Programme in December 2021
- In 2022, the calls for tender with environmental criteria accounted for nearly half of the total budget.
- A manual has also been released to ensure the right approach in construction works initiated by the public sector
The Basque Government is firmly committed to green management that is mainstreamed in its policies, along with sustainability as its flagship. A new measure has thus been unveiled in Vitoria-Gasteiz today and will bolster the environmental aspect in procurement by the public entities of the Basque Country: a binding instruction that establishes the minimum environmental clauses that all the Ministries of the Basque Government and its public sector must include in their calls for tender. This is in keeping with the Government's own commitments to the 2030 Green Public Procurement Programme, approved in December 2021. Tendering processes with environmental criteria now already account for nearly half the budget in the Basque Country: in 2022, 2,218 out of 5,314 calls for tender included a clause of this type.
The 'Instruction regarding the incorporation of environmental clauses in the procurement processes of the Institutional and General Administration and other entities of the public sector of the Basque Autonomous Community" is aimed at the services or economic management directorates of the Basque ministries, directorates of the autonomous agencies, management bodies and other entities of the BAC public sector, procurement services or promoter units.
“Our goal is to fulfil the Government's own commitments to the 2030 Green Public Procurement Programme and uphold the exemplary role expected of public administrations. We want the procurement process to be environmentally responsible, along with being clear and ensuring coordinated messages for the bidding companies," the Basque Government's Deputy Minister for Environmental Sustainability, Amaia Barredo, explained.
Itziar Agirre, the Deputy Minister for the Treasury, stressed that "it is a question of using the strategic purchasing power of the administrations to obtain a best quality-price ratio and drive the transition to a greener, more innovative and circular economy”. Agirre went on to add that this "is a firm commitment to using public procurement as a driving force to achieve more responsible public purchasing".
Both the Sustainable Development Goals and the European Green Deal refer to an exemplary use of public procurement to contribute to a more sustainable European economy. The Basque Country's commitment in this area can be traced back to 2002 when the Basque Environmental Strategy for Sustainable Development (2002-2020) established "promoting a public procurement policy that introduces ecological criteria" for the first time. Steps have since been taken including the greening process of the Ihobe contracts in 2005, the 'Agreement regarding the incorporation of social and environmental criteria or other public policies in the procurement processes of the Basque Administration' in 2008 or the first Green Public Procurement Programme of the Basque Country between 2011 and 2014.
After a second stage between 2015 and 2020, we are now in a third Green Procurement Programme of the Basque Country with a time horizon set in 2030. Its aim is to harness the procurement potential of the Basque private and public sectors to set the standard and coordinate with the market for a sustainable socio-economic development that, in turn, maximises the protection of the environment, business competitiveness and the well-being of Basque citizens.
This new instruction stems from that Programme and includes procurement criteria in the following sectors: food, public lighting, building and urban development, electricity, printing equipment, computer equipment, events, gardening and green spaces, cleaning buildings, courier services, furniture, civil works & infrastructures, paper & office material, publications & printing, textiles, transport by bus, light vehicles, heavy vehicles, and travel.
Thus, those environmental criteria include prioritising seasonal and organic food, minimising the environmental impact during the works, the quality and durability of textile products and the use of alternative fuels.
On track to meet the goals for 2030
According to the figures from the 2022 Annual Report on Green Procurement in the Basque Country, the tendering processes that included environmental criteria accounted for nearly half the budget: €1,084,532,744.18 out of a total of €2,199,612,921.72; and 2,281 calls for tender with environmental criteria out of a total of 5,314. Commitments in this area have established a firm foothold and many indicators are already close to the targets set for 2025, including those envisaged for 2030: the percentage of green public procurement in the categories prioritised in the Programme, in number, is 50.7%, with the target of 55% set for 2025 and 75% for 2030. In terms of economic volume, with the same targets, the percentage was already 66.5% in 2022. As regards the green public procurement percentage in the overall procurement in turnover, it was 49.3% in 2022, with the target of 40% set for 2025 and 60% for 2030.
The new instruction now indicates a series of basic environmental criteria to adapt the specifications to the priorities of the Programme in order to ensure its compliance. Those will be included in the definition of the purpose of the contract, the solvency criteria, the technical requirements, the award criteria and/or the special implementation terms and conditions. Therefore, they will have to be incorporated in the specific administrative specifications or the specific technical requirements of the public contracts. Each administration will have to adapt criteria to each specific tendering process. Even though the allocated scores are for guidance purposes, they will account for at least 15 points of the total 100 of the award criteria. Furthermore, in the case of contracts for over one year, the specifications will include the requirement for the successful bidder to submit an annual report on all the environmental commitments assumed in the contract.
Manual for the Compliance of the Environmental Administration Act
The session also included the presentation of the 'Manual for the Compliance of the Environmental Administration Act: Inclusion of Secondary Materials in Works Specification', designed to facilitate a proper approach and interpretation in construction works initiated by the public sector. The works chapter within public procurement is traditionally one of the costliest, and construction sector is one with the greatest environmental impact. Therefore, green public procurement must ensure that the part allocated to works likewise is.
The key aspects of sustainable construction include the management of material and energy flows, set out in recent provisions such as the Basque Environmental Administration Act. It establishes a mandatory application of 40% of secondary materials in public works specification, which is a huge qualitative and quantitative leap on this matter. Therefore, special emphasis is required regarding the implementation of instruments that facilitate its compliance. Thus, the Manual provides both the administration and possible bidders with strategies, practical references and calculation methods to facilitate the compliance of the legal requirements in that regard.