A reflection on the Dutch sustainable public procurement programme

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30 Citations (Scopus)


Public procurement can contribute significantly to achieving sustainable development. The Dutch government has indicated that sustainable procurement is one of its priorities and has developed and installed a Sustainable Public Procurement Programme (SPPP). This essay reviews the current programme and assesses its actual contribution to sustainable development. Specific questions are raised with respect to both the set up and the content of the current decision criteria for supplier selection and contract provisions. This article argues that, so far, the focus on minimum requirements, the strict distinction between environmental and social criteria and the absence of specific long-term ambitions and a systems perspective have limited the actual contribution of the Dutch SPPP to sustainable development. Finally, ongoing discussions by involved stakeholders, with respect to suggested adjustments to the programme, are reviewed and linked to the assessment presented here. It is concluded that these discussions reflect promising trains of thought for the future of the Dutch SPPP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-36
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Integrative Environmental Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • public procurement
  • sustainable development
  • systems perspective


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