In November 2023, capacity building events on ecolabelling and sustainable public procurement took place in the Republic of Moldova and throughout the EU’s Eastern Partnership (EaP) region, involving both public institutions and businesses.
Public procurement, which accounts for up to 20 percent of GDP in Eastern European and the Caucasus countries, offers a largely untapped opportunity to drive business and domestic markets to innovate and increase sustainability. By purchasing more sustainable goods, works and services, governments can improve our environment and quality of life.
Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP) is about spending public funds on products/services/projects that promote sustainable development and a green economy transition. International, European, national and other standards can encourage manufacturers to implement sustainable management and production systems.
Ecological labels or “eco-labels” can support SPP by providing information on the environmental performance of products and services throughout their lifecycle. Eco-labels can take many forms (written claims or declarations, tables or matrices, as well as labels or logos), helping the ever-growing environmentally-conscious consumer base to easily identify products that meet certain environmental and social criteria. For businesses, eco-labels are a means of measuring, communicating and marketing their socio-environmental credentials.
In the Republic of Moldova, UNEP – in close cooperation with the Public Procurement Agency (PPA) of the Ministry of Finance – implements a set of activities to promote and apply SPP. These include improvement of SPP legislation, elaboration of training/awareness-raising tools (identification of priority goods and services for SPP pilot tenders, and elaboration of sustainability criteria for these). UNEP also builds the capacity of businesses and small and medium enterprises to respond to public tenders with sustainability criteria.
On 8-9 November 2023, a Seminar on Sustainable Public Procurement gathered representatives of contracting authorities, economic operators, control entities, as well as employees of the PPA. The seminar took stock of the current public procurement system in the country; presented 5 priority product groups for SPP (based on a market readiness analysis); presented technical specifications and sustainability criteria for these product groups; and demonstrated how these could be used in future SPP pilot tenders.
Two further trainings on Sustainable Public Procurement took place in the cities of Bălți (21 November 2023) and Cimișlia (23 November 2023).
A Regional workshop on Sustainable Public Procurement and eco-labelling also took place on 14 November 2023. The event highlighted key achievements and remaining challenges for SPP and eco-labelling in the EU4Environment project countries; presented best practice case studies on SPP and eco-labelling from EU member states; and discussed how these approaches can be continue to be promoted in EaP countries beyond the duration of the EU4Environment programme.