Public procurement represents 14% of gross national product in the European Union and thus has considerable economic potential to make public organizations as a whole more environmentally
friendly, more innovative and socially and ethically responsible. Since 2005, various Belgian government agencies have explored the possibilities for sustainable public procurement and have developed relevant policies. Research however shows that the nature and extent of sustainable procurement varies greatly.
Dr. Peter Kruyen and I were therefore asked by the Federal Institute for Sustainable Development to systematically analyse public procurement notices and specifications and determine to what extent and how Belgian public procurers pay attention to sustainable procurement in the public procurement notices and contract specifications and identify patterns and best practices therein.
We were given access to the E-notifcation platform, which contained over 140.000 procurement notices that were published between 2011 and 2016. We examined all these notices to determine the level and extent of sustainable procurement in Belgium. Using automated coding techniques with the software program R we were able to assess the current state of sustainable procurement and show patterns that emerge in the level and nature of attention for sustainability in public procurement.