A new publication by GIZ and the Öko-Institute e.V. behalf of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Nuclear Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV), has identified twelve common barriers to implementing ecolabels and Green or Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP). The document was launched in December 2021 and is a compilation of repeatedly recurring obstacles and possible strategies for successfully overcoming these. It also contains references to further information and best practices.
“Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP) and Ecolabels are important instruments of a product policy framework. If applied effectively, they can trigger sustainable product innovations and guide market transformation processes.” – Siddharth Prakash, Öko-Institute e.V.
In this publication, barriers for Ecolabels are:
Insufficient domestic manufacturing sector
Limited impact of the ecolabel as a sole measure
“Chicken and egg” problem
High certification costs
Mismatch with supplier branding strategy
Fast innovation cycles
Non-acceptance of non-state ecolabels
Barriers for SPP are:
Insufficient support infrastructure
Unclear reform mandate
Least (acquisition) cost paradigm in public procurement and capacity gaps of public procurers
High upfront costs of sustainable products
Industry policy focusing on domestic manufacturing
“While there are quite a number of success stories on SPP and Ecolabels, many countries in Southeast Asia face severe challenges in realising the potential of these instruments. Thus, for us, it was important not only to understand the barriers the countries are facing, but also to put them in a format that is easy to understand and follow, without being too repetitive and instructive. This has helped the countries in linking their day-to-day challenges with the obstacles described in the document instantly. Achieving this level of acceptance is a major step towards a common understanding and trust – indispensable ingredients for developing solutions that are close to the realities of each country. As there is seldom a one-size-fits-all solution, we have tried to draft a number of options that can be detailed while keeping the capacities, economies and priorities of the countries in Southeast Asia in mind. We hope that this document is a starting point of a series of discussions and hopefully, specific implementation activities in the field of SPP and Ecolabels in Southeast Asia,” Mr. Prakash added.
Ecolabels are often issued by Ministries of Environment and at times initiated by standardisation agencies, while SPP is linked to Central Procurement. These institutions are far apart and follow quite different cultures. Their cooperation and capacitation require strong political support. Thus, decision makers and implementers must collaborate and share their challenges and best practices.
To overcome these barriers, the experience gained in one country or region may be helpful to address similar barriers in other countries. Read how countries and organisations can shift towards a greener procurement and make it happen here.
About SCP Outreach and Scaling SCP Projects
The publication is produced as part of the projects “Proliferation of Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) in Asia – the Next 5 Countries (SCP Outreach)” and “Scaling Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP): Ecolabelling and Sustainable Public Procurement for a Low-Carbon Pathway in South-East Asia (Scaling SCP), commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Safety and Consumer Protection (BMUV). Through the projects, the aim is to develop and establish policy instruments and policy frameworks in the area of SCP to promote a low carbon economy and contribute to national GHG emission reduction.