By Ayodele Fatoberu
Green purchasing/procurement is a process whereby organisations meet their needs for goods, services, works and utilities in a way that achieves value-for-money on a whole-life basis in terms of generating benefits for the organisation, society, the economy and the environment (International Green Purchasing Network) IGPN (2010). In another hand, Sustainable procurement is an investment process typically associated with public policy, although, it is equally applicable to the private sector. Organisations practicing sustainable procurement meet their needs for goods, services, utilities and works, not on a private cost-benefit analysis, but with a view to maximising net benefits for themselves and the wider world (Wikipedia).
The International Institute for Sustainable Development describes Green Procurement as the selection of products and services that minimise environmental impacts; it states further that it requires a company or organisation to carry out an assessment of the environmental consequences of a product at the various stages of its lifecycle.
According to Bruntland Commission on Sustainable Development, this is simply defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
It is therefore pertinent to note that Sustainable Development is attainable when consumption of renewable resources does not exceed nature’s ability to replenish. This is the main reason why proponents of Green Economy have identified Green Procurement as a tool for Sustainable Development.
It is instructive to note the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) which came before the Sustainable Development Goals, (SDG). Goal 7 of the MDGs was to ensure Environmental Sustainability, and the results of the achievement of Goal 7, shows that the rate of deforestation was high as at the 2010 target year, even though the target for the bio-diversity conservation was not met. Goal 7: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.
Global concern for Environmental sustainability stems from the threat posed by monumental environmental degradation arising from unsustainable resource consumption and development are as follows: Deforestation, Desertification, Depletion of Ozone layers, Climate change, Global warming, Pollution, Water resources depletion, Habitat destruction, Ecosystem destruction and Energy consumption.
This concern has received the attention of the Conference of Parties (COP 22) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, i.e. Marrakech Climate Change Conference which was held between 7th – 18th November, 2016 in Morocco, and the 12th Conference of the Parties serving to the Kyoto Protocol, as well as the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the parties to the Paris Agreement. The issues centre around Energy, Governance, Agriculture and Food Security, Forestry and REDD (Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Degradation), International negotiations, Climate change, Adaptation, and Mitigation.
Besides, resource consumption in the process of growth and economic development can impact negatively on the ecological integrity of the environment, which implies that we should ask the following questions as part of the sustainability checklist in every day to day economic activities as highlighted below: What are the raw materials used for the products? Are there any toxic or hazardous chemicals likely to be generated during manufacturing? What performance regulatory specifications must the new product(s) and or service(s) meet? How reliable will the delivery manufacturing/distribution process be? Are all steps commercially proven? Does the company have experience with the operations required? What types of wastes are likely to be generated? What is their physical and chemical form? Are they hazardous?
This is the reason why concept of Design for Environment (DFE) is now being advocated globally to reduce the negative impacts or carbon footprints, emissions and waste generation. It involves, consumption of less energy, reduction of waste generation, no hazardous/non-toxic materials and sustainable forestry products.
A number of challenges have been identified by the Institute for Sustainable Development and they include, Price – sometimes, a green product may have a higher up-front purchase price; lack of corporate commitment; insufficient knowledge whereby, many organisations are unfamiliar with the concept of green procurement or with the options available to them; and availability. Other challenges are that there is no acceptable alternative, no specifications, and purchasing habits among others.
However, in implementing green procurement programmes, there is need for organisation support, self-evaluation, goals’ setting, developing strategy, running a pilot project, developing implementation strategy and sustaining a systematic procurement programme.
However, in Nigeria, efforts are being made through the relevant environmental agencies for policy advocacy and sensitisation for green development and infact, a unique example of Green project in Nigeria is the Osun State Secretariat Complex, Osogbo which in concept, design and execution is a Green Project, and fully branded as such with the green roof to depict the concept as green project.
It is obvious that Green Procurement is the New Growth frontier according to the International Green Purchasing Network (IGPN) and it remains a major avenue for achievement of Sustainable Development.
- Fatoberu is the General Manager of Osun Public Procurement Agency.