Task force to lead the way on sustainable purchasing
The government must lead by example in using its purchasing power to further sustainable development, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Margaret Beckett and Financial Secretary John Healey MP said today.
With a budget of more than £125bn, the public sector can transform markets so that the private sector can join forces in the pursuit of sustainable purchasing policies.
Mrs Beckett and Mr Healey were speaking on the day of the first meeting of the sustainable public procurement task force, set up under the government’s Sustainable Development Strategy, Securing the Future, launched by the Prime Minister in March.
The group is charged with drawing up an action plan by April 2006 to bring about a major change in sustainable public procurement so that the UK is among the leaders in the EU by 2009. The task force is under the chairmanship of Sir Neville Simms, a leading private sector exponent of sustainable development.
Mrs Beckett and Mr Healey announced the full membership of the group, which has been chosen to bring up in a wide cross-section of expertise.
Margaret Beckett said:
‘The government wants to be an example for others to follow and to demonstrate that everybody involved in purchasing – including householders and the public and private sectors – can contribute to sustainable development.
‘The public sector spends more than £125bn a year and I look forward to the task force’s action plan setting out how the public sector can embed sustainable development into procurement. I want public sector purchasing to stimulate the market to produce more sustainable products and services.’
Mrs Beckett referred to the success of the public sector in developing the market for sustainable timber through purchasing as an example of what can be achieved.
Sir Neville Simms said he hoped a powerful partnership would be created in the Task Force, drawing on the expertise of businesses, non-governmental organisations and others to achieve the changes in procurement behaviour we need to see.
‘It is vital that the Task Force delivers not only a plan of action but also commitment on the part of those responsible for specification and delivery. I want our work to lead to major changes in both public and private sector procurement behaviour – which will contribute to delivering government’s sustainable development goals.’
The Action Plan should set out how to:
avoid adverse environmental impacts arising on the government estate and in the supply-chain;
make more efficient use of public resources;
stimulate the market to innovate and to produce more cost effective and sustainable options for all purchasers;
set an example for business and the public and demonstrate that government and the wider public sector is serious about sustainable development.’
The Task Force is asked to report to Ministers within 12 months.
Source: Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (defra)