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Under the Circular & Fair ICT Pact, governments and procuring organisations work together with the objective to make laptops and smartphones more circular and fair through the power of procurement.


ICT has become a fundamental part of modern daily lives. Our smartphones and computers connect us, provide access to a vast world of information and create countless opportunities for business. Digitization and smart tools can also help towards more sustainability and a post-Covid Green Recovery.
At the same time, the ICT sector is a significant source of carbon emissions worldwide. It is currently responsible for 2 - 4% of global CO2 emissions and this percentage is growing. The production and use of datacenters (estimated at 495 Mton CO2 eq in 2020) and smartphones (125 Mton CO2 eq in 2020) are two major contributors . In addition, the ICT sector is dependent on a wide range of rare minerals whose mining, production and waste phases have a highly negative impact on the environment and on human and labor rights. Only a small part is effectively reused or recycled.

Reducing carbon emissions and the use of primary materials is a pressing worldwide challenge. Tackling these problems is an important part of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris agreement on climate. Pushing towards circular ICT would be a major step towards addressing these issues. By prolonging the lifetime and stimulating repair and reuse, the impact can be greatly reduced. A more circular design of products and business cases can reduce the impacts even further.
Public procurement can be an important lever to help make this happen, creating an increased and consistent demand for circular ICT that will help change the market. Most ICT brands operate on a worldwide scale however. They require a sufficiently large and uniform demand to effectively change the direction of their business. Relative to that, current circular demand from public procurers is too small-scale and fragmented to enable the change needed. Even collaboration on a national level falls short in terms of scale.

To effectively empower public procurement of ICT, procurers need to reach out and collaborate with their fellow procurers on an internatio¬nal scale. Together we can create a collective movement, set a shared base¬line and criteria, engage with the market and help set the direction for future development. We can share our best practices and speed up collective learning. We can make a real change.

Our ambition 

The aim of the Circular & Fair ICT Pact is to bring ICT procurers together and pool our procurement power. As a collective, we represent sufficient procurement power to engage in fruitful market dialogue with the ICT industry, the value chain partners and the recycling industry leading the way towards real change. 
Our collective ambition is to speed up the transition of ICT towards contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals. We strive towards fully circular and fair laptops and smartphones available on the market by 2030. This means maximizing the lifetime of products or their components, closing material chains where possible, minimizing carbon emissions and the impact on the environment, and minimizing any impact on human rights and labor rights.

Our proposition

To achieve our ambition, we propose to bring together governments and (public and private) ICT procurers in the Circular & Fair ICT Pact. This Pact consolidates and harmonizes our collective buyers' voice and creates a basis for taking common action. The Pact will establish a network of national or regional buyer groups of ICT procurers, linked together on an international scale. Through this network, the Pact will support capacity building, joint market consultation and the sharing of best practices and lessons learned. On an international scale, the Pact will establish working groups to support ICT procurers with practical criteria, procurement and monitoring guidance and more. 

Most activities under the Pact require a strong dialogue between procurers, the market, policy¬makers and NGOs. Companies and NGOs will not be signatories to the Pact, but will be invited to get involved in the work done under the Pact. In addition, a high level dialogue will be established to set out a common long-term route towards innovation and achieving the Sustainable Develop¬ment Goals. 

The goal of the Pact is to create real action: Public and private procuring organizations doing actual circular and fair procurements, and sharing their knowledge. They are the mainstay of the Pact. By signing the Pact, they help build up our collective procurement power and effect. 
To support this, national, regional or even local governments can sign the Pact in a coordi¬nating role. These coordinating organizations will be tasked with setting up (or linking to) national or regional buyer groups of ICT procurers. Experience shows that procurers are greatly helped by working together with their closest peers, doing pilots and exchanging the lessons learned. The way these buyer groups are set up will be flexible, allowing for international differences in how procure¬ment is organized. 
All buyer groups will be linked together in a Strategic Buyer Group established under the Pact. This international group will promote knowledge exchange between the different buyer groups, tackle complex issues, keep track of monitoring and help boost the effectiveness of the Pact.

The Pact will start out with a focus on laptops and smartphones (i.e. mobile devices) as major contributors to environmental and social effects. Over the course of the Pact, other ICT products can be included as well, if the Participants feel a shared need to. This could include desktop computers, display devices, datacenters, sensors, etc. Regardless of our collective scope, Participants are encouraged to work together on other product groups within their own buyer group, or to propose setting up international working groups to tackle additional products.

The Pact is a global initiative under the UN One Planet Network. It will start out with a manageable scope with a main focus on the European region as a frontrunner community. This also allows for valuable interaction with the European Commission in regards to the new Green Deal and the Circular Economy Action Plan. Once the Pact has been firmly established, membership can be expanded further through the UN network. 

The Pact is a voluntary agreement, meaning that no actions are legally enforce¬able. We all benefit from creating a strong, uniform movement in ICT procurement, but procuring organizations must always have the final say in their own procurements. 

Our collective effect

The ultimate goal of the Pact is to help reduce carbon emissions and use of primary materials, reducing the use of toxic chemicals, extending the lifespan of products, the use of recycled material and employment conditions. 
To measure the effects of the Pact, procuring organizations that participate in the Pact will be asked to keep track of a few easy-to-measure parameters, such as the number and type of devices they procure. This way, we can not only showcase our collective procurement power to the market, we also have sufficient basis for calculating our combined effects in terms of carbon emissions or raw materials saved. 

The first quick win of the Pact can be achieved by simply buying the sustainable ICT products and services already available. Many procurers have a hard time drawing up ambitious, yet achievable criteria that will get them the greenest and fairest offers. They require examples to follow and struggle with getting their own internal customers involved. A lot of valuable time and effect is lost reinventing the wheel again and again. 
The Circular & Fair ICT Pact will create a network or buyers who can learn together and who have access to a growing base of proven criteria and good examples. This will help procurers to start asking for the best sustainable products more easily and start making a real difference from the moment they join up. The Pact will further support this by setting a common, easy-to-use base level as the minimum level under all our ICT procurements. To achieve this, the Pact will build upon the valuable work already done, for instance on the EU Green Public Procurement criteria, the criteria used in participating countries and the various ICT ecolabels. 


The Pact aims for two types of signatories. For procuring organizations it can be signed by the one directly responsible for ICT procurement, such as the responsible director, central procurement officer or similar. This is important to make the Pact actionable. For coordinating organizations the Pact can be signed by the person overall responsible for procurement policy, sustainability or similar. Organi¬zations that both coordinate and engage in ICT procurement themselves are encouraged to sign on both levels for the different roles. 

Procuring organizations not or not yet supported by a coordinating organization are welcome to join the Pact as well. They can either set up their own buyer group, or simply join in the collective movement, using the same base criteria and exchanging knowledge and monitoring information with the international community.

How to Join

Governments and public and private ICT procurers can join by signing the Pact. 

Latest and planned activities

In 2021 the circular ICT Pact will be officially launched. 

Initiator : The Netherlands – Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management

Coordinator contact: 

For more information about the Interest Group and how to join please contact:

Cuno van Geet ( Senior Advisor Circular Procurement

Sophie de Smet ( Programme Manager



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