Germany reformed its Procurement Law in 2016, extending the possibilities for contracting authorities to include more sustainable policy objectives in procurement procedures. The current legal framework (2016) includes the following RBC objectives:

  • Germany has different national strategies in regards to sustainability, each one focusing on different sustainable objectives. The two most important ones are:

    • The National Sustainability Strategy (Deutsche Nachhaltigkeitsstrategie) mentions public procurement in the context of environmental issues, among others, and how to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

    • Regarding human and labour rights, the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (Nationaler Aktionsplan Wirtschaft und Menschenrechte, NAP) includes measures in the field of public procurement.

  • The German procurement law gives procurers the opportunity to identify sustainable products and services as part of market research. Thus, procurers become aware of more sustainable offers and can, if necessary, include more sustainable criteria in the procurement process.

  • The Procurement Law specifically lists the social, environmental and innovative aspects as possible specifications for selection and award criteria. It is also possible to consider these criteria in technical specifications or contract performance conditions.

  • German contracting authorities can exclude companies from the tender process for violations of environmental, social or labour law obligations or fraudulent actions from past procurement procedures. This includes violations of the International Labour Organization Core Conventions.

  • In order to ensure that the tenderers did not use child labour in the manufacturing of the procured product or that the employees have been paid the minimum wage, contracting authorities require a self-declaration for each procurement procedure.

  • Even though Germany is highly decentralised and has more than 30 000 contracting authorities, the federal government has supported the implementation of strategic procurement throughout the entire public procurement system, across governmental levels. To this end, the German government has established a number of bodies dedicated to providing expertise in specific areas of strategic procurement, such as the Competence Centre for Sustainable Procurement (Kompetenzstelle für nachhaltige Beschaffung, KNB), or the German Competence Centre for Innovation Procurement (Kompetenzzentrum innovative Beschaffung, KOINNO).

  • Both of the competence centres, KNB and KOINNO, work together to help contracting authorities to deliver innovative solutions and sustainable outcomes. Services provided by both include training courses, workshops, seminars, networking opportunities, websites detailing best practices, templates and telephone and email guidance.

  • When purchasing ICT equipment, the CPB of the Procurement Office (Beschaffungsamt des Bundesministeriums des Innern) requires tenderers to commit to comply with selected labour and social standards along the supply chain, until maximum supply chain level tier 3 by virtue of the latest edition of the Declaration on Social Sustainability in the Context of Public Procurement of Information Technology. For instance, suppliers need to certify that they know their supply chains and do not violate selected requirements that go beyond the ILO core standards.

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