Savings through responsible
public procurement

Many public sector agencies in Finland are currently undergoing budget cuts, and the whole regional social and health care system is being radically reorganised. The consequent changes entail both challenges and opportunities with regard to improving resource efficiency. Encouraging results have been achieved in some areas.

Every year municipalities involved in energy programmes and energy efficiency agreements save a total of 354 GWh of energy, and more than 24 million euros in monetary terms. Such work will continue, with emphasis on energy efficiency, sustainable procurement, switches to renewable energy, and the adoption of resource efficient methods.

Energy experts’ road shows around Finland

During 2016 Motiva organised several events around Finland spotlighting the benefits of energy efficiency agreements, renewable energy, and ways to promote energy efficiency in public sector procurement. Events in Kokkola, Seinäjoki, Pornainen and Kaarina brought together representatives and experts from about 20 municipalities and dozens of other organisations such as energy suppliers, training institutes, parishes and government agencies. The road show will go on during 2017.

Actively promoting responsible procurement

Motiva’s public sector procurement services encourage purchasers to duly consider environmental and social impacts in their choices. New legislation on public procurements was drafted during 2016, and Motiva was consulted regarding how the new regulations could encourage such thinking.

The importance of responsibility in purchases of foodstuffs was widely discussed. The government issued a new decision in principle on sustainable food procurement. To help implement this new policy, Motiva worked with food producers, purchasers, researchers and interested organisations to create a set of Guidelines for the Responsible Purchasing of Foodstuffs, which will be completed and distributed during 2017. The EU also worked to prepare new criteria for procurements of foodstuffs. Motiva compiled and presented the views of Finnish stakeholders regarding the criteria, and also highlighted examples of innovative catering service procurement practices from Finland.

Training for purchasers

Training on how energy efficiency can be considered in purchases was provided for municipal staff. Examples of good practices from around Finland were collected and publicised. These practices include ways to consider life cycle costs to facilitate the choice of the most reasonable alternative overall, giving due regard to energy efficiency considerations.

Responsibility targets include the goal of creating jobs. We provided training for municipal personnel on ways to consider employment impacts in their procurement, and we created a set of related self-study materials in collaboration with the National Institute for Health and Welfare.

During the annual Energy Awareness Week event we arranged a webinar focusing on ways to procure renewably generated electricity. A survey conducted by Motiva revealed that municipal staff responsible for purchasing electricity were not very well aware of opportunities to make such choices. Only a third of respondents had made agreements to purchase renewable energy.

Nordic co-operation

Successful projects can encourage other organisations to try similar schemes. In 2015 Motiva set up a Nordic purchasers’ network to help create a joint road map for the Nordic Countries’ capital cities, featuring examples of on how well planned purchases can promote green growth. Various purchasing areas were identified where it would be useful to increase collaboration between these cities to create wider markets for innovative solutions.

Resource smart municipalities show the way

The Finnish Sustainable Communities network (FISU) is a network of pioneering municipalities who aim to become carbon neutral and waste free by achieving consumption patterns that are globally sustainable by 2050. Motiva and the Finnish Environment Institute jointly work as the service centre for the network, organising related events and providing expert assistance on resource efficiency for the municipalities involved.

The FISU network so far has eight member municipalities: Forssa, Ii, Jyväskylä, Kuopio, Lahti, Lappeenranta, Turku and Vaasa. Resource smart road maps have been drawn up for five of these towns and cities already, and three more are in the pipeline.

FISU networking events in various localities have proven to be good fora for exchanging information and experiences, and for gaining insights into each municipality’s special features. The network’s annual seminar, held in Helsinki in summer 2016, also introduced its work to people from outside member municipalities. The seminar’s 120 participants included representatives from businesses, other municipalities and various public sector stakeholders.

Focus areas for 2017

In 2017 Motiva will encourage the active use of criteria for the responsible public sector purchasing of foodstuffs, and also urge public sector organisations to set related responsibility targets. Our advisors will also focus on purchases of vehicles and transport services, promoting sustainable and innovative solutions. We will help national policy makers by finding ways to accelerate the development of the bioeconomy and the circular economy, and the adoption of innovative clean technologies.