• The City of Ghent firmly believes in the public purchasing power of buying solutions, rather than products. As a city, we owe it to the future to stimulate the market to (r)evolve it in a sustainable way.
    Deputy Mayor Martine De Regge


Annual increase of 10% in contracts awarded to the social economy sector

10% of annual ICT procurement budget allocated to innovative products and services


Located in the Flemish region of Belgium, Ghent is the capital and largest city of the East Flanders province. With more than 250,000 inhabitants, Ghent is Belgium's second largest municipality.

Since 2008, the City of Ghent has in place an action plan for sustainability, “Ghent 2020”, which includes more than 105 actions and initiatives to make Ghent a more sustainable city, including sustainable procurement activities. In 2014, Ghent was the host of the EcoProcura conference, a unique meeting point to share knowledge on sustainable procurement (SPP) and procurement of innovation (PPI).

As a firm believer in SPP, these are Ghent’s principle: leading by example, using purchasing power as a leverage for sustainability, making procurement a strategic partner, cost-efficient use of public money, and raise the maturity standard of the procurement organization.

The Sustainable Procurement Strategy of the City of Ghent focuses on:

  • Minimizing the ecological footprint throughout the entire life-cycle with a focus on rational use of energy and independence of non-renewable energy, minimizing the impact of local air quality through efficient and environmentally friendly transportation and deliveries, and avoiding waste.
  • Encouraging sustainable employment of disadvantaged groups with a focus on increasing the opportunities on the labor market for job seekers from disadvantaged groups - with specific attention for youth unemployment -, and strengthening the sustainable growth of the social economy sector.
  • Promoting sustainable innovations.
  • Fostering local economic growth with special attention for start-ups and innovative companies.
  • Integrating and assuring international labor standards and fair trade principles throughout the supply chain.
  • Encouraging sustainable entrepreneurship among suppliers.
  • Increasing the maturity of the procurement function and striving towards excellence in procurement.

Digipolis Ghent will allocate 10% of the budget for ICT - to procure innovative products and services or innovative procurement. Digipolis Ghent will organize networking meetings between suppliers and innovative ICT solutions and representatives of the city, police, social services department, agencies and associations of the city of Ghent.

With regards to the social economy, Ghent progressed from one contract reserved for social economy in 2014 to five in 2015. In 2016 the city was able to spend almost two and half times more on social economy compared with 2015 (from €69.5m to €167.4m). The procurement budget for cleaning services included 5.6% spent on social economy, with certain cleaning programmes such as weed control, sweeping outdoor schools and playgrounds, and cleaning of bookshelves are reserved for social economy.

In 2016 Ghent was able to reduce CO2 emissions of deliveries by 10.5% compared with 2015. The forecast for 2017 is to reduce the delivery emissions by 30% compared with 2016. This has been achieved by focusing on specific procurement areas:

  • Stationary was previously delivered within 48h, but is now delivered once a week
  • Educational material delivery has shifted from weekly to fortnightly
  • Work clothing delivery has shifted from weekly to fortnightly
  • Classroom and office furniture used to get delivered once a month, but is now 4 times per year
  • Cleaning products: in 2017 ordering has been reduced from once a week to once a month. On the delivery side Ghent is trying to work out two delivery periods a month. The bulk of the delivery means that many trucks need to drop off everything in two days in 110 locations, so the city is trying to establish a pattern of fewer deliveries in 2017 and 2018.


Sustainable Procurement Profile


Download here


Contact person: Thomas De Jonghe, Stad Gent


Social and environmental innovation in cleaning services

Ghent is responsible for cleaning 340 premises, a service which employs 450 people. The City was interested in introducing cleaning products with a lower impact on the environment and human health and so set up a controlled trial of products offering lower life-cycle impacts at several of its locations. Based on the results it decided to promote probiotic cleaning products within its current contract.  The contract also included a condition relating to the role of social economy enterprises in carrying out the cleaning services, creating employment and training opportunities for long-term unemployed and disabled people.

The full case study can be found here.




To find out more about the Global Lead City Network on Sustainable Procurement, contact:

ICLEI's Sustainable Procurement Centre
c/o ICLEI European Secretariat
Mr. Mark Hidson

Leopoldring 3
79098 Freiburg

Telephone: +49 (0) 761 – 368 92 0
E-mail: mark.hidson@iclei.org


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