Sustainable Development Research: Green Procurement

Recent research has addressed the role of green procurement as a potential economic development tool. Towards this end:

Balancing the need for job growth and environmental benefits is paramount for communities and regions. Both needs must be met in order to foster sustainable communities. In doing so, a critical piece of the puzzle that reorients the discussion, is the concept of green employment. The “green economy” is broadly oriented around the idea of employment opportunities in environmentally preservative industries. However, despite the hype, deriving and developing robust, research-driven strategies towards green jobs development has been elusive. What low hanging fruit may exist in achieving sustainability goals through green economic growth? One overlooked tool is the role of municipal procurement. Research suggests that green procurement can provide sustainability benefits by fostering local markets for green goods and services. As summarized by a recently published scholarly research article in the International Journal of Public Sector Management:

• Purpose – The research seeks to demonstrate how local entities, such as cities and
counties, can use environmentally preferable purchasing plans as a tool in developing the
local green economy. First, we focus specifically on either the rise of economic
development programs through buy-local efforts, or the focus on environmental
sustainability through green procurement programs. Second, we discuss how locally
driven, environmentally preferable purchasing could be used as a strategy to marry these
goals together and utilize procurement as a tool to achieve green local economic

• Design/methodology/approach – This research used qualitative methods to examine both
procurement for economic development through the use of buy local campaigns, in
addition to environmentally preferable procurement policies that have been used to
bolster environmental quality in communities.

• Findings – Green local economic development can be achieved by melding together
procurement programs previously singularly focused on either economic development
aims, or environmental preservation. It is found that procurement can be used as a viable
tool in fostering both economic and environmental goals, and as a key policy and
planning tool for sub-national governments in the pursuit of a green economy.

• Originality/value – Given the increased attention of achieving sustainable development in
communities, this paper seeks to re-envision procurement as one crucial tool for
municipalities and regional governments that seek to bolster green jobs in their
communities. The paper seeks to develop a new framework for public procurement
through this investigation.The results of this research are immediately applicable at the metropolitan level, and can provide a range of innovative benefits for communities seeking environmental benefits, jobs growth in green jobs, and equity goals. Cities are major market actors and can utilize their influence to achieve sustainability goals.

In summary, this economic development plan intends to develop a viable green economy
strategy through the following components:
1) Identifying products purchased by the public sector in substantial volume that can
reasonably be expected to be both produced locally, and produced in an environmentally preferable manner.

2) Determining whether or not “industry needs” related to green product production can
be met by locating in one of the areas in the metropolitan area that may be currently
or potentially cited for clean tech growth. Specifically, we can:
a. Determine other economic incentives and industry incubation strategies that
could be married to government purchasing to generate further demand for
these goods.
b. Determine needed workforce strategies and work in conjunction with the
workforce development community in order to achieve results.

3) Implementing purchasing of these products through a targeted and strategically
advised approach to green procurement. In addition to environmental considerations,
local economic development potential should be key in selecting products to be fast tracked.
The plan may be informed by existing initiatives and serve as a model for
implementation in other municipalities in the region.

4) Growing Markets and Reducing Prices by allowing greater volumes of procurement
for green goods and services by multi-agency procurement across jurisdictional lines,
and through public private partnerships with private corporations also desiring such
green goods and services. Such products can be made accessible by reducing the costs
for such products through bulk procurement. This can bolster equity by allowing
companies in lower-income areas to procure such products at the lower rate. This
fosters the full spectrum of sustainability values—equity, economic, and
environmental results.

In conclusion, we can achieve sustainability goals in part through an economic development plan that combines “environmental preferable purchasing policies” and “buy local” ordinances as a seed for growing the local economy to be robust, profitable for all, and “green.” A healthy local, clean economy will in turn provide economic stability for government agencies, allowing these agencies to invest in the region’s infrastructure by working together through joint procurement to effectively generate markets for green goods and services.

For more information on the role of procurement: 

Planning Magazine Article on "Buying Green:  Worrel_Nijaki article.pdf

International Journal on Public Sector Management:  nijakiprocurementIJPSM-3.pdf

Presentation on Sustainable Procurement:  greensalon.pptx




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