Kouvola Innovation organised its first regional stakeholder meeting for CircPro in Kouvola at the end of November. The event gathered over 20 people from different sectors representing public authorities, procurers, companies and our own project team. The aim of the first meeting was to present the project, explain the purpose of the stakeholder group and to discuss about the model for future collaboration between the project and stakeholders. In addition, an expert from KEINO Competence Centre gave a presentation on how circular economy can be linked to sustainable procurement practices and circular economy. KEINO is part of the implementation of the Finnish Government Programme, its operations are steered and funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, and it supports and helps Finnish public contracting authorities with the development of sustainable and innovative procurement.
Although this was the first time when stakeholders from Kymenlaakso area gathered, and even if not all the stakeholder members were able to participate, the topic brought about comments on different types of bottlenecks and specific features present in procurement process, tendering documents and operating environment. These included issues such as how to choose valid criteria for procurement objects; lack of standards and demand for recycled materials; procurement is always case-specific, i.e. no one-size-fits-all approach exists, and commensurability and suitable system for measuring acquisitions’ impacts are needed.
These comments show that the stakeholders have an important role for the project. Their experiences and expertise set the basis not only for the analysis of the current state of the procurement practices in Kymenlaakso region but also for the development needs in order to generate systematic circular procurement culture to the area.
Even if the first meeting was successful in the sense that there were fair amount of participants and we received valuable comments from them, the project itself and the concept for how to engage the Kymenlaakso stakeholders to the project are still in their infancy. Further guidance to the stakeholders and feedback from them are hence needed. Before the year end, specific questionnaire will be drawn for the stakeholders where both their development needs related to circular procurement procedures as well as the preferred operating model for the stakeholder meetings (should stakeholders gather as a single group or sector-based; workshoplike vs. regular meeting etc.) will be asked. Further guidance for the recently started mapping task, where realized acquisitions with circular elements in Kymenlaakso area will be collected and analysed, and where the information provided by the regional operators is crucial, will also be provided for the stakeholders. Rules for the participation of the stakeholders for the inter-regional partner meetings will also be prepared.
Overall, many issues still need to be taken care of for ensuring solid functioning of the stakeholder group but the grounds for collaborative development of the procurement culture towards circular economy preferring one in Kymenlaakso area have now been laid.