BCG-WEF Project: Mission Possible

Related Expertise: Public Sector

BCG-WEF Project: Mission Possible

The goods and services that public procurement agencies buy contribute greatly to global greenhouse-gas emissions. But given governments’ buying power, they can encourage the industries they buy from to abate their emissions.
  • Governments around the world spend about $11 trillion annually on the goods and services they need to keep operating—about 13% of global GDP.
  • Net-zero public procurement would add just 3% to 6% to costs through 2050.
BCG and the World Economic Forum collaborated to copublish a report that offers a detailed framework for making green public procurement a reality. Read the report here.
Public procurement is responsible for a significant proportion of global greenhouse-gas emissions. Governments can accelerate their path to net-zero operations by adopting the green procurement framework—an approach designed by BCG and the World Economic Forum for the Mission Possible Partnership.

Green Public Procurement: Catalyzing the Net-Zero Economy

Every year, governments around the world spend about $11 trillion to buy defense and security equipment, waste management services, fuel, electricity, construction materials, and other goods and services that they need to operate. And every year, all that activity produces about 7.5 billion tons of direct and indirect greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, roughly 15% of the world’s total.

The sheer size of public procurement’s carbon footprint makes its potential contribution to global decarbonization central to the fight against climate change. However, reducing public procurement’s emissions to net zero will require the combined efforts of governments and their suppliers alike. The enormous amount of money that governments spend—about 13% of global GDP—should give them a considerable amount of influence over the carbon footprint of those suppliers.

BCG and the World Economic Forum collaborated to copublish a comprehensive report that analyzes the benefits and challenges of green public procurement. It also provides guidance on how officials can ensure that procurement activities contribute to achieving net-zero goals.

Five key findings from the report

1. Public procurement’s GHG emissions are heavily concentrated in six industries.

2. Governments should look to exert their influence on industries that are heavily dependent on public spending.

3. Pursuing net-zero goals in public procurement will boost the green economy.

4. A considerable proportion of public procurement’s GHG emissions can be abated at a reasonable cost. We expect that greener procurement activities will raise costs by just 3% to 6% through 2050.

5. Public procurement is also complex and highly decentralized, making it difficult to devise coherent decarbonization strategies.

The Green Procurement Framework

Overcoming the challenges of greener public procurement will take a concerted effort on the part of procurement officials at all levels of government. This framework is designed to help them meet their goals.

Create transparency in baselines and targets

Optimize products for GHG abatement across their life cycle

Define product and supplier standards and work with suppliers

Develop the wider ecosystem and create buying groups

Transform the procurement organization and align across agencies

The green procurement framework can be applied to procurement functions at all levels of government—central, regional, and local. The key is collaboration: reaping the full benefits of green public procurement will happen only if all stakeholders across the entire public-procurement ecosystem work together to set and reach their net-zero goals.

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BCG-WEF Project: Mission Possible