Responsibility is Routine in the Corporate World – What About Public Contracting Entities?

Many companies have committed themselves to corporate responsibility, and an increasing number of investors have added the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to their investment strategies. What about public contracting entities—is responsibility part of their procurement strategies? 


The UN Member States are committed to promoting sustainable public procurement routines in accordance with national laws and goals. The tools are certainly there: in Finland alone, the public sector uses approximately EUR 35 billion on procurements per year.

Contracting entities have the potential to make a huge impact: they determine whether public buildings are built with low-emission standards, whether vegetarian food is served at schools or whether home care employees drive electric cars. Contracting entities have the power to decide that their entire subcontracting chain must comply with human rights and the ILO’s agreements—or they can just decide to follow the same old model.

Contracting entities can award points to tenderers for taking environmental considerations into account. The Court of Justice of the European Union confirmed this already 16 years ago in the Concordia Bus Finland judgment. A precedent from Finland!

However, legal expertise is still needed to build responsible operating models. The Competence Centre for Sustainable and Innovative Public Procurement Keino was established this year. In the future, Keino will help Finnish contracting entities with the strategic management of procurements and the assessment of efficacy. This is a project we all can be proud of!

Innovative companies are also driving changes to how public procurements are carried out. Dialogue between contracting entities and responsible companies promotes sustainable development.

The UN's Sustainable Development Goals are aimed at the year 2030. After an exceptionally hot summer, one could ask whether contracting entities should be actually be setting goals for 2020.