India should focus on green procurement strategy: Sudhir Zutshi
At a time when government pushes for digital innovation to procure farm produce through its e-Marketplace initiative for better transparency and faster execution, Global safety certification company UL, which also delivers business solutions and conducts independent research and shares scientific knowledge, talks about ‘Green Public Procurement’ policy, a mix of both technology and transparency, that can revolutionise the future of procurement in India. Sudhir Zutshi, UL director policy, South Asia tells Ajay Kumar Shukla how the Green Public Procurement (GPP) policy implementation can positively affect all aspects of the triple bottom line – people, planet and profit.
How do you see the government’s e-Marketplace initiative? How can the digital programme help in streamlining the procurement process going forward?
The Government of India took giant strides when it launched the Government e-Marketplace (GeM) in
2016 to transition its procurement to digital thereby making it cashless, paperless and contactless. Today, the government of India, its various departments, most state governments, their departments, public sector undertakings can save time, resources and money, bring in transparency, discover and standardize specifications for products and services through GeM. While the platform will continue to scale and improve efficiencies, the cogent next step would be Green Public Procurement (GPP).
What is Green Public Procurement?
Green Public Procurement (GPP) describes a range of policies that ensure environmental considerations are included in the procurement process of the national and state governments. If done correctly, it can also positively affect all aspects of the triple bottom line – people, planet and profit. Most environmental and health concerns are influenced by the products we buy, and the way services are delivered. It is an effective process for tackling several of these concerns through the purchasing process. For the past few decades, governments around the world including the European Commission are leveraging GPP.
What does adoption of GPP policy brings to India?
GPP brings about the most efficient use of resources ensuring organizations that adopt such a policy procure only the necessary products. To give an example, the city of Tübingen in Germany saved Euro 30,000 (approximately Rs 23 lakh) per year by centralising cleaning product and service procurement that called for innovative and green products. There are many such examples across the globe.
Why should India embrace GPP and what advantages does it bring?
A green procurement strategy leads to a reduction in consumption of resources, utilities and energy, avoids waste and emissions, protects human health and biodiversity, increases the transparency of costs and fosters innovation. It ensures fair working conditions and income while creating green jobs in the supply chain.
With India’s commitment to SDG’s, GPP would be an important step amongst other key initiatives in this direction to demonstrate India’s efforts and focus in meeting the sustainability goals and targets. Further, considering the perpetual concerns over pilferage in procurement, it will create benchmarks for analysis and monitoring of procurement and provide a view into easily identifiable areas of improvement. The key is a structured roadmap to shift towards such a policy.
What is the future roadmap for GPP policy?
With the government and the National Green Tribunal (NGT) focusing on environmental well-being, a GPP policy should be transparent in terms of the scope of procurement activities it will cover and mechanisms for monitoring compliance and outcomes. Officials should be given adequate time to consider the impact of the changes and identify any specific steps that need to be taken on their part. Wherever possible, it is advisable to discuss the criteria with existing and potential suppliers in advance of use in tenders, as part of a pre-procurement consultation exercise or a technical dialogue. Above all, GPP should go hand in hand with eco-innovation policies aimed at stimulating market demand.
What will be the framework for implementation of GPP policy?
A framework for implementing such a policy will be helpful and should comprise the following:
Defining priorities and setting targets – Starting with certain checkmark purchase concepts, such as the amount of recycled content in paper or ECOLOGO certified cleaning products, can get Governmental agencies, purchasers, industries and communities comfortable with the concept while having clearly defined and measurable goals. The focus could be to start with those sectors where GPP can be implemented easily and show the concept can work
Developing procedures and action plans – An action plan commits to several predefined actions, actors, tools, resources, budgets, expected results and implementation timeline
Monitoring implementation – To drive continuous improvement and effectively target the lifecycle environmental impact and costs of goods and services purchased, the Government should create a comprehensive monitoring system
Reviewing the outcomes – Along with progress, Government agencies in charge of the implementation should explain the challenges associated with the process. A continuous process of feedback from stakeholders is the best way to review the policy
How can the programme help Indian manufacturers?
Leveraging existing established programmes already used on a global basis allows Indian manufacturers to export to the world and provides a consistent level of performance that some may already be employing. The GPP policy can provide a testing ground for manufacturers to improve the environmental performance of products and thus ensuring compliance to robust global standards and conformity assessment framework which may become mandatory in the future.
For more information, write to Poornima.Chandrashekaraiah@ul.com