Work was undertaken on how national governments and other public authorities could generate both direct and indirect environmental benefits through greener public purchasing programmes and initiatives. Particular attention has been paid to legal and financial issues.
Government procurement markets in 1997 accounted for 5%-18% of GDP within OECD member countries. As such, public procurement has significant potential to bring about direct environmental benefits through improved environmental performance of the public authorities themselves, and indirect environmental benefits as a spur for "green" product development and use throughout the economy.
OECD's activities in this area date from 1996. Through workshops and publications, work has focussed on policy reviews of GPP programmes and initiatives in OECD member countries, as well as the examination of institutional factors which facilitate or hinder their success. This work is summarised in Greener Public Purchasing: Issues and Practical Solutions.
Other work has focused on the links between the environmental characteristics of public procurement and other aspects of public policy such as general environmental policy, public expenditure management, trade law and competition policy. A publication, The Environmental Performance of Public Procurement, reviewing work on these issues was released in 2003.
A Recommendation passed by the OECD Council, C(2002)3, lists steps that governments should take to "green" procurement. Governments are urged to introduce appropriate policies; establish procedures for product identification; provide relevant information and technical support; and, evaluate progress. Implementation of the Recommendation is now being assessed.