Ihobe is a Public Corporation that supports the Department for the Environment, Spatial Planning, Agriculture and Fisheries of the Basque Government in developing its environmental policy and in spreading the culture of environmental sustainability. Ihobe’s SPP activities are conducted at two levels: at the internal level in Ihobe’s own operations and at regional level for the promotion and support of SPP in the whole Basque Country Region.
Ihobe’s procurement activities are mainly consulting services and some supply and support services. Since 2005, Ihobe has been introducing environmental criteria in their contracts, starting with the supplies and support service contracts (office material, IT equipment, printing services) and progressively moving to the consulting services, in line with their environmental management system and the policy commitments adopted by the Basque Government.
The most recent GPP policy by the Basque Government to use public procurement as an instrument to advance its environmental policies’ objectives is the “Green Public Procurement Programme of the Basque Country 2020” adopted in September 2016 (available in Spanish and Euskera).
This is the second programme on this subject approved by the Government, and represents a qualitative improvement as it targets the whole public sector in the region (not only the central government as the previous plan) and foresees actions to institutionalise GPP and ensure the appropriate coordination with the market.
The Programme, of voluntary adherence, sets two types of objectives to be achieved by all adhered public administrations:
In order to achieve those objectives, the Programme is organised in five strategic areas:
1. Tools and resources for GPP implementation
It is aimed at providing the Administration with the necessary basic resources to, safely, introduce the environmental variable in its procurement processes; and it includes the running of pilot schemes in brand new areas such as eco- innovative and circular purchasing.
2. Integration in procurement processes, procedures and tools
By analysing the existing procurement tools and procedures, it aims to identify and establish mechanisms that enable the mainstreaming and effective integration of the environmental variable in the procurement.
3. Awareness raising and capacity building
It seeks to train the managers of the Basque Administration, at all levels, on the benefits and how to carry out environmentally responsible procurement.
4. Coordination with the market
It seeks to mobilise the Basque private sector and actively involve it in the public procurement process. Basque company will thus be involved early in the process to develop technical criteria and be better positioned in the tender processes of the Basque administration and abroad.
5. Communication, dissemination and networking
Dissemination and networking: it seeks to make the most of the synergies and position the Basque authorities as benchmarks both internally and externally.
To supervise and plan its deployment an inter-agency Steering Committee is being set up with the initial participation of several Government Departments and Public Organisations, with Ihobe as coordinator.
The new GPP Programme of the Basque Country 2020, sets the below targets. Furthermore, it sets some objectives in specific implementing activities such as the launch of at least one tendering process for innovation procurement, circular procurement or including LCC calculations in procurement.
In order to evaluate the economic effect of including green criteria in their tenders, in 2008, Ihobe evaluated the bids submitted to their tenders for paper, office supplies, computers, photocopying and printing services and noted that those offers which meet all mandatory criteria and more environmental award criteria were 10 to 30% cheaper than the most expensive ones.
Areas of particular focus include GPP for resource efficiency and life cycle costing (LCC). For example Ihobe organised a working group with a small team of public administrations to promote the concept of LCC, and present a tool for its calculations (the SMART-SPP tool adapted to the Basque context, Spanish version), as well as provide training to test the tool and identify areas for improvement for a “large scale” deployment.
Ihobe has continued rising awareness and providing training on LCC since then and will continue to do so, as LCC is one of the topics covered in the new GPP Programme 2020.
Externally, Ihobe promotes GPP and provides technical support for its implementation to all public administrations of the Basque Country. It has developed GPP criteria for more than 25 product/service groups in its GPP Manual (in Spanish), provides direct implementation support, organises working groups with public administrations, holds discussion forums with the private sector (producers and suppliers), and disseminates the experiences of Basque public administrations at the regional, national and international level. Areas of particular focus to work on during the next years include public procurement of innovation, application of life cycle costing (LCC) to procurement and mobilising Basque private companies so that they also green their purchases.
Internal monitoring: For internal monitoring of GPP measures and their impacts, Ihobe’s environmental management system ensures annual monitoring of environmental indicators. This includes power consumption, use of recycled and non-recycled paper, waste generation and vehicle fuel consumption. The level of GPP in economic terms is also calculated together with the impact in CO2. Ihobe has also defined internal procedures to ensure that the environmental requirements requested/offered in procurement processes are really delivered (monitoring of CO2 emissions in the delivery of service contracts, etc.).
Regional monitoring: Since 2011 Ihobe was responsible for the deployment and monitoring of the first Green Public Procurement Programme 2011-2014 of the Basque Country Central Government (in Spanish); and during 2014 has worked in close collaboration with representatives from all Basque administrations to define the basis for a new GPP plan targeted at the whole Basque public sector.
In 2010, Ihobe introduced SPP criteria in 100% of their tenders, representing a value of 8.7 million Euros. In terms of environmental benefits, Ihobe contributed to reduce CO2 emissions by approx. 8.5 tonnes thanks to the procurement of recycled paper, publications printed on recycled paper, the purchase of energy efficient computers, and the use of energy-efficient vehicles.
Since the beginning Ihobe has considered all its GPP actions as a way to promote the coordination of the offer (market agents) and the demand (consumers) in order to ensure that there is enough offer of green solutions to much the increasing demand by public authorities. To do so, Ihobe has a long history of promoting cleaner production and eco-design in the industry sector.
Furthermore, when defining the environmental criteria for the GPP Manual, there is always a discussion and feedback session with producers and/or suppliers of those prioritised products and services. Within the new GPP Programme 2020 additional planned actions include the organisation of “Meet the buyer” events, training events for companies on public procurement of innovation and the provision of training to bidders for them to improve their green offers for more successful GPP tenders.