Inaugural speech Fredo Schotanus: A better world starts with public procurement

Fredo Schotanus

On Friday 1 July, Prof. Fredo Schotanus delivered his inaugural speech 'A better world starts with public procurement.' With this speech Fredo Schotanus accepted his appointment at the Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance.

Using various examples, Fredo Schotanus argues that a better world begins with the way governments procure services, products, buildings and infrastructure. By not traditionally purchasing on the basis of price and quality, but by also taking into account the environment and people: in other words, 'sustainable purchasing'. By purchasing more sustainably, sustainable supply will increase, and the government is ideally placed to take a leading role in this. Among other things because of its large purchasing scale of around €100 billion per year, the risks it can bear and the contribution of sustainable procurement to various government objectives. Schotanus notes, however, that many governments can still procure more sustainably.

Sustainable procurement policy

Policy is an important tool for encouraging sustainable public procurement. Although much research has been done into how policies should be created, insights are still lacking into when which concrete substantive topics in sustainable procurement policies are effective. Schotanus makes a number of suggestions, such as the introduction of an obligation to provide reasons if purchasing is not sustainable and guidelines for the better use of award models, which governments use to select suppliers.

Possibilities for more sustainable procurement        

It is often thought that sustainable procurement by governments is about requiring labels and including sustainable award criteria. The disadvantage of labels, however, is that they can also result in stifling innovation beyond the level of the label. Sustainable award criteria are regularly difficult to measure. But there are more possibilities. Schotanus argues for selection at the front end by inviting social entrepreneurs to submit tenders more often and for the more frequent use of sustainable requirements resulting from market consultations. He also argues for different procurement models, from purchase to as a service, and for more accessible tenders, so that a larger proportion of the market is addressed for government contracts.

Accelerate more sustainable procurement

Schotanus also casts a glance at the future. He sees a trend towards increasingly sustainable procurement. To accelerate this trend, much is asked of both practice and science. Schotanus and the researchers in his team will contribute to this acceleration by providing more insight into sustainable and unsustainable purchasing behaviour: what is the status and how can we explain behaviour? In addition, by measuring the effects of sustainable procurement you can show which sustainable procurement measures are more and less effective.

If we want to accelerate sustainable procurement, the non-committal must be removed, believes Fredo Schotanus. Not only for the front runners, but for all governments. Where we can procure sustainably, we must do so.

Full text & registration inaugural speech

Please read the full text of the inaugural speech here, or watch the video:

Download the text of the inaugural speech (pdf)
Video of the inaugural speech