At the recent UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), Bhutan announced to the world that the country is already carbon negative. Each year, it absorbs more carbon than it produces. In addition, its economy is also designed to reduce the use of fossil fuels and waste in its efforts to limit global warming. This achievement is made possible thanks to a number of national efforts and strong political will.
To bring sustainability into even greater focus, the Bhutanese government is planning to review its public procurement law by linking with sustainable consumption and production (SCP) and Green Public Procurement (GPP) [i]. These concepts are effective policy tools for increasing sustainability in consumption and production and reducing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. A regional project is now supporting the government of Bhutan.
In Bhutan, a major chunk of the budget goes to public procurement. Yet, the lack of a legal framework and low awareness of SCP patterns is low within the government. Measures to raise awareness and capacity building for public administrations would, therefore, represent possible first steps [ii].
The Proliferation of Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) in Asia – the Next 5 Countries
(SCP Outreach) project is currently collaborating with the relevant agencies in reviewing the Procurement Rules and Regulations (PRR) 2019 to make them more inclusive of GPP aspects through a number of support measures. Some of the major activities under this project include providing technical training courses for government officials to understand the concept of GPP, preparing an institutional set-up for GPP, and fostering knowledge sharing between countries.
In this regard, a “Task Force Meeting on Reviewing PRR 2019 and Recommendations” was conducted on 16 November 2021 where experts from GIZ presented the key findings of PRR2019, among other relevant legal documents, and recommendations for improving the legal framework for GPP. These recommendations are:
- Procurement objective (include sustainability as goal of procurement system)
- Selection criteria (allow use of environmental criteria)
- Contract conditions (allow sustainable conditions)
- Evaluating bids (using LCC and other environmental criteria)
- Technical specifications (allowing functional requirements and use of ecolabels)
- Monitoring & Evaluation (monitor GPP/SPP implementation)
With regard to this meeting, Thailand has also shared its implementation experience with the government officials of Bhutan which will be useful in planning the next steps. For more than 10 years, the Thai legal framework has not been conducive to driving the government’s green procurement efforts. However, in the past year, the Thai Ministry of Finance has overcome these barriers by issuing ministerial regulations and guidelines to promote procurement of products and services that are environmentally friendly. It is expected that government agencies will be able to procure goods and services that take into account more sustainability dimensions in the future.
This meeting is seen as an important step in paving the way for the revision of the legal framework to make it more GPP inclusive.
Lowest price ≠ Best value: To make sure government officers do not purchase goods or services based purely on costs, the SCP Outreach project is supporting legal reform of the partner governments. Although more expensive upfront, LED lights consume around 70% less energy, resulting in a much lower electricity bill.