Cambodia aims to review its legal framework to unleash the full potential of public procurement. A regional project is now providing the training for procurement officers.
Each year, the Cambodian government spends between 20 and 40 % of the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on public spending. These purchases are mostly made on the basis of the lowest price without account being taken of the life cycle costs, the positive benefits and the subsequent environmental impact. Procurement officers are not aware of the Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP)[I] concept and its benefits. Cross-border dialogue is also lacking.
With a view to changing this situation, GIZ’s Proliferation of Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) in Asia – the Next 5 Countries (SCP Outreach) project has been working on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) and with the support of Thailand since 2020 to assist policy reforms in several Southeast Asian countries, including Cambodia. Parts of the support include providing technical training courses for government officers to understand the concept of SPP, preparing an institutional set-up for SPP, and fostering knowledge sharing between countries.
What is SPP? In simple terms, it is about buying a product that is more durable, efficient, more economic in the long term, while lowering the impact on the environment. Take for example, a copier machine: this can be cheap upfront but can mean more costs in the future. Or an efficient refrigerator, which will save on electricity much more than a conventional one with less energy efficiency.
Because the public sector has immense purchasing power, there is great potential to reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions through SPP. If done in the right way, procurement of green goods has many wins: reduced cost in the long run, reduced harm to the environment, and new markets for goods and services paving the way to the low-carbon economy.
Setting the course for the sustainable future On 15 November 2021, a “Virtual Workshop of SPP” was organised to provide basic knowledge on the SPP concept, benefits, processes, and institutional support. Participants also learnt from practical experiences of SPP implementation from other countries and then reflected on their country situation.
At this workshop, the participants gained knowledge and learnt from the experiences in Europe and Asia. Interestingly, the Thailand case, presented by Dr. Supat Wangwongwatana from the Thailand Environment Institute (TEI), provided a comprehensive practical implementation of Thai Green Public Procurement[ii], Green Cart initiative[iii], its achievement such as estimated environmental benefit values around 79,063 million baht and estimated CO2 emission reduction account to 11.13 million ton CO2e, and key challenges include small markets for green products and services, procurement law and regulations do not support Green Public Procurement (GPP), limited numbers of eco-label certified products and services, lack of awareness and confidence of government procurement officers.
Many takeaway messages for a successful SPP implementation can be drawn: strong political will, strong government policy on sustainable consumption and production (SCP), champion agencies to continuously advocate on the topic, collaboration between different government agencies, stakeholder engagement, market dialogue, and development of promotion of eco-labelling certification, among others.
[I] Sustainable public procurement (SPP) refers to a process whereby public authorities seek to procure goods, services and works with a reduced environmental, economic and social impact throughout their life cycle.
[ii] Green Public Procurement (GPP) is a process whereby public authorities seek to procure goods, services and works with a reduced environmental impact throughout their life cycle when compared to goods, services and works with the same primary function that would otherwise be procured.
[iii] Established in 2008 by the Pollution Control Department (PCD) under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Green Cart makes GPP easier by providing a list of products and services that can be used directly by the procurement agencies.
About SCP Outreach As the public sector is a major consumer, there is great potential to reduce GHG emissions through Green Public Procurement (GPP) and eco-labelling and achieve sustainable consumption and production (SCP). However, the awareness and the progress of implementation varies from country to country due to different factors.
In recent years, GPP systems and eco-labelling schemes have been recognised and granted significant importance by the governments of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Lao PDR and Bhutan. Through the SCP Outreach project, Thailand is taking up the role as a pioneer by supporting other countries in the region. SCP Outreach aims 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. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) with GIZ as the main implementer, the project runs from March 2020 – February 2024.