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12.7 Public Procurement
Sustainable Public Procurement Programme

Food

Interest Group - Sustainable Public Food Procurement

Building a bridge between the SPP and SFS programmes, the Sustainable Public Food Procurement Interest Group connects food procurement, food systems transformation and sustainable development.

Why work on public food procurement?

Purchasing power

Food procurement accounts for a significant portion of overall public procurement. It includes the purchase of food and food-related services for public school meal programmes, for the cafeterias of public offices, hospitals, prisons and universities, as well as for social programmes such as in-kind transfers (the distribution of food aid to families in need) or social restaurants.

Transformative power

More and more, local, regional and national governments are recognizing the potential of sustainable food procurement to influence the various stages of the food value chain, to promote public health and nutrition and to localize the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Public food procurement (PFP) can benefit those who produce and consume food, as well as their communities and the planet. By making choices as to what food to purchase, from whom and from what type of production practices, governments can tailor PFP to various policy goals, according to their own contexts and priorities. For example, depending on local priorities, PFP can help tackling malnutrition, foster local employment, reduce greenhouse gas emissions or reduce food and packaging waste. This makes PFP a potentially powerful instrument that can deliver multiple benefits and reach a multiplicity of beneficiaries, and is adaptable to multiple national, regional and local contexts.

Strategic power

As acknowledged by the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit, PFP represents a strategic entry point for promoting more sustainable food systems. Food production is among the most important drivers of environmental degradation globally. It contributes to climate change, biodiversity loss, excessive freshwater use, the disruption of global nitrogen and phosphorus cycles and land-system change. Food production and consumption choices have also important social and economic impacts and unintended costs. At the same time, food systems should also be part of the solution. Considering the extent of the demand for food from the public sector and how procurement choices are made, PFP initiatives have the potential to profoundly influence both food consumption and food production patterns and to deliver multiple social, economic and environmental benefits to transform positively the food systems and contribute to healthy diets.

About the Interest Group

Objective

Support the development and implementation of sustainable public food procurement policies that promotes sustainable food systems

    Focus areas

    • Joint Activities & fundraising: collaborative efforts to design and implement activities or projects
    • Strategies and resources: support for the development of policies, strategies and technical resources on sustainable public procurement in the food sector
    • Knowledge dissemination: collection, organization and dissemination of resources on sustainable procurement in the food sector
    • Criteria and standards: development and piloting of measurement and standards for sustainable public food procurement
    • Capacity & network building: of procurement officers, decision-makers, food producers and suppliers on the multi-dimensions of sustainable public food procurement (‘Champions’ and/or ‘ambassadors’)
    • Advocacy and engagement: Strengthening engagement and promote collaboration among the various sectors ‘stakeholders at local, national and international level for the development, implementation and dissemination of sustainable public food procurement policies and initiatives.

    How to join?

    The group is open for members from across One Planet Network Programmes as well as other relevant networks or associations.

    Members commit themselves in-kind to participate at regular (online) meetings, 2 times a year, and to share experiences with a view to foster collaboration.

    To become a member, simply contact Luana Swensson at Luana.Swensson(at)fao.org.

    Members

    The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability co-lead the Interest Group.

    Associated networks (tbc): Global School Meals Coalition (led by WFP)

    Coordinator contact