Government procurement of goods in services in 1997 accounted for approximately 9% of GDP within OECD Member countries. As such, public procurement has significant potential to bring about direct environmental benefits through improved environmental performance of public authorities, and indirect environmental benefits through "green" product development and diffusion throughout the economy.
In February 1996 OECD Ministers agreed to a Council Recommendation on improving the Environmental Performance of Government. This Recommendation, along with the Resolution on Improving the Environmental Performance of the OECD, is needed to spur Member country governments to reduce the environmental impacts of their own operations and decision-making processes.
In order to capture these opportunities a significant number of Member countries have introduced initiatives to promote greener public purchasing. OECD's activities in this area date from February 1996 and a summary of the results from the activities undertaken can be found in Greener Public Purchasing: Issues and Practical Solutions (OECD 2000).
Previous work also identified a number of issues related to "financial, budget and accounting" procedures and systems which affect GPP, and these issues have become the focus of the Environment Directorate's existing work programme in the area. These were explored in a workshop held in Vienna.