Public procurement wields enormous purchasing power, accounting for an average of 12 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), and up to 30 per cent of GDP in many developing countries.

Leveraging this purchasing power by buying more sustainable goods and services can help drive markets in the direction of sustainability, reduce the negative impacts of an organization and produce positive benefits for the environment and society.

The OECD Public Procurement Recommendation2 refers to public procurement as the cornerstone of strategic governance as it contributes to achieving policy goals including environmental protection, innovation, job creation and the development of small and medium-sized enterprises. Other organisations have also acknowledged the critical role of the procurement function and built up the international momentum on sustainable procurement including: the World Bank which embedded sustainable procurement within its 2016 Procurement Framework, the revised Agreement on Government Procurement of the World Trade Organization which entered into force in 2014 and the 2014 EU Public Procurement Directive that recognises public procurement as one of the market-based instruments to achieve smart, sustainable and inclusive growth.

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