On 29 August 2018, APLU hosted two researchers from the German Development Institute (Deutsches Institut fur Entwicklungspolitik – DIE) in a roundtable discussion on sustainable public procurement at municipal level. The discussion formed part of a research visit to South Africa by DIE researchers, Dr. Maximilian Müngersdorff & Tim Stoffel, as part of the DIE research project: “Municipalities Promoting and Shaping Sustainable Value Creation (MUPASS) – Public Procurement for Fair and Sustainable Production”. The researchers describe their project as follows:
“MUPASS represents an international research and dialogue project, implemented by the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) in close collaboration with the Service Agency Communities in One World (SKEW) and the Federal Ministry for Economic Co-Operation and Development (BMZ).
Rationale of the project
Public Procurement (PP) has potentially a high leverage effect to make economic development more inclusive and ecologically sound, if shaped in the right way. Researchers estimate PP to correspond to at least 10% to 20% of Gross Domestic Product in most countries of the world. A large part of PP is implemented by sub-national entities – hence MUPASS focusses on municipalities as actors. Since the 1990s and the drafting of the Local Agenda 21, the great potential of municipal entities for the transformation towards inclusive and sustainable development patterns has been widely recognized. Today, thousands of subnational public authorities across the globe have approved a local sustainability agenda and are implementing related activities.
Research on Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP) across the world indicates that countries and cities share some basic challenges, such as creating a governance framework for effective SPP implementation or applying instruments that allow for easy-to-manage, inexpensive and transparent modes of conformity assessment.”
The project aims to investigate the framework conditions that facilitate successful sustainable public procurement practices in Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. The project furthermore intends to assess the impact of sustainable public procurement practices, especially on workers, smallholders and SMEs.
During the roundtable discussion, the researchers presented data from a number of case studies of European cities that have made progress in implementing sustainable public procurement. They also presented a sustainable public procurement map that they are developing based on the data that can assist in mapping the framework conditions for sustainable public procurement implementation.
South African participants ranged from academics across a range of disciplines, government officials (both from provincial and local government level), postgraduate students and people working in the NGO sector. While sustainable public procurement is still in embryonic stage in South Africa, some interesting developments were shared, especially those spearheaded by the Western Cape provincial government. Participants raised the challenges of limited capacity and funding as barriers to pursuit of sustainable public procurement, but also highlighted innovative solutions that are available to overcome these barriers. There was consensus among participants that more sharing of experiences and knowledge of successes in sustainable public procurement practices at municipal level around the world would greatly contribute to facilitating the uptake of such practices. The DIE MUPASS project was accordingly seen as an important initiative that can drive such exchange.