The Big Buyers Working Together (BBWT) Project, coordinated by Eurocities, ICLEI Europe and BME on behalf of the European Commission, aims to help public buyers across Europe to find innovative, sustainable and social solutions to their current procurement challenges. To set the foundation for four years of collaboration, the project set up a Needs Assessment Survey, inviting public buyers across Europe to voice their needs, challenges and recommendations.
Based on the results of this Needs Assessment, ten Communities of Practice are being created on the Public Buyers Community, a new platform developed by the European Commission. Each Community of Practice will be devoted to the purchase of a specific product, work or service where European collaboration is needed. To support the process of developing more strategic procurement approaches, public buyers will meet regularly online and in person. Additionally, the Big Buyers Working Together Secretariat will facilitate study visits, market dialogue, producers’ pitching sessions, meetings with industry associations and other events that will respond to identified capacity gaps and community members’ needs.
While the topics of the Communities of Practice will only be fully defined after the Needs Assessment Phase, the project will have at least two communities focusing on socially responsible public procurement. Public buyers increasingly use their purchasing power to create a social impact. Making use of, for example, social clauses in tenders, or reserved contracts, public buyers can promote employment opportunities for people with a distance to the labour market, decent work, social inclusion, gender equality, accessibility, compliance with social and labour rights, ethical supply chains, and many other social policy goals.
By working together and pooling their resources, cities, central purchasing bodies, and other major public buyers can maximise their market power and impact, which is why the European Commission has decided to launch Big Buyers Working Together. The project is a continuation of the Big Buyers for Climate and Environment Initiative, which involved four Working Groups, respectively on Circular Construction, Digital Solutions in Health Care, Electric Heavy Duty Vehicles and Zero-Emission Construction Sites.
Among the main outcomes of these Working Groups were The Joint Statement of Demand of the Working Group on Zero Emission Construction Sites and The Joint Declaration of Intent of the Working Group on Circular Construction. The Joint Statement of Demand composed by the Members of the Big Buyers for Climate and Environment’s Working Group on Zero Emission Construction Sites contains a number of ambitions to move to fossil fuel free construction machinery by 2025 and gradually increase the use of emission free machinery to at least 50% by 2030. This statement, currently signed by Oslo, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Vantaa and Bodø, is a clear signal to the market that there is a demand for emission free construction machinery should it be made available by manufacturers.
The Joint Declaration of Intent agreed by the Members of the Big Buyers for Climate and Environment’s Working Group on Circular Construction indicates the unmet need in the field of road construction, in particular asphalt pavements. It aims to provide Public Buyers and the market with a recommended direction of investments in road construction, as regards the tendering approaches and issues that require further analysis to address the identified risks and the potential for broader use of circular asphalt.