Sustainable procurement on the agenda in Norway

Elverum municipality passed a new procurement strategy and is in the final process of a strategic plan for climate and energy. Both use the principles of sustainable development "Development that meets today's needs without destroying the opportunities for future generations to meet their needs." In order to create sustainable development, the world community must work in three areas: climate and the environment, economy and social conditions. Furthermore, the strategies focus on circular economy.

Procurement for NOK 500,000 million

The Norwegian government wants public procurement to be a driving force for innovation and restructuring in the Norwegian economy. In order for public procurement to become an effective environmental policy instrument, it is important that the principals have overall plans and strategies for taking climate and environmental considerations into their procurement. Further, that the purchasers have the competence to set good requirements and assess the climate and environmental impact in the various offers (st. report 22 (2018-2019) ).

Elverum Municipality purchases goods and services for 400 million a year, invests in buildings, roads and infrastructure on average for NOK 100 million a year, and is one of the largest employers in the region. It is therefore important that the municipality complete its procurement in the best possible way. In December 2019, the municipal council passed a new procurement strategy. It shall ensure that the municipality's procurement is uniform and follows the municipality's goals in the municipal plan's social section and strategic plans such as the one for climate and the environment.

The main objectives of the strategy reflect the three dimensions of the concept of sustainability: Procurement should contribute to the best possible service, and which safeguard the environmental, social and economic conditions that future generations can live with. The environmental aspect is specified in 2 sub-targets:
•    The municipality's resources must be managed so that future generations will have the same quality of life and basis as us. Socially responsible procurement should help to ensure good reputation and confidence in public procurement.
•    Elverum municipality shall be clearly environmentally conscious in its own practice and actions. Routines and procedures shall be characterized by thorough assessments of relevant environmental and climate impacts, both short-term and long-term.

Strategic plan for climate and energy

Elverum Municipality is finalizing a revision of its strategic plan for climate and energy. It will provide guidelines for the municipality's work on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency and restructuring and climate adaptation. The total climate footprint of Elverum municipality as an organization was approx. 27,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalents in 2017. It further shows that 15% of the climate footprint comes from the purchase of goods, 18% from the purchase of services, 47% for operation and investment in construction. The municipality has a great potential to reduce its climate footprint. The climate footprint analysis includes both indirect and direct greenhouse gas emissions.

The strategy plan suggests that Elverum Municipality will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 (30 kt CO2-ekv). Within the organization, the goal is 30 % reduction of the climate footprint by 2024 and climate neutrality by 2030. To achieve this goal, 5 sub-goals have been set with associated strategies, in procurement, management, transport, construction and real estate, and waste management and food waste. One of the main strategies on procurement is the introduction of circular routines for the purchase and use of goods, and the use of standardized requirements and criteria for environmental and social responsibility by using checklists prepared by the Norwegian Directorate of Digitization.

The way forward…

Following political decisions, goals and strategies must be rooted in the organization. It will be important to create a good guide for circular procurement. Here the work in Circpro will be very useful. The municipality of Elverum is the regional capital of Sør-Østerdalen and wants to influence the other municipality to introduce its own routines and targets for circular procurement. Therefore, there is active work on networking and competence sharing in the region. In addition to provide guidelines for municipal operations, the climate strategy will provide guidelines for the whole community. As an example, the Municipality wants to influence companies and businesses to think more circular.

Photo credits:
Cover photo, the comittee: Elverum Municipality/Kate Langsethagen