8 March 2022

Alliance of public buyers to promote sustainable ICT

The European Sustainable Development Network (ESDN) has published a blog post on the collaboration between ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability and the Belgian Federal Institute for Sustainable Development (FISD) to put in practice the Fair and Circular ICT Pact. The Pact brings together public and private ICT procurers and governments in a collective movement to accelerate the transition towards circular and fair ICT-products.

In 2021, the Belgian federal Minister for Sustainable Development, Zakia Khattabi, wanted to deliver an active contribution in the execution of the Pact by setting up: (1) an 80-member Belgian ICT Buyer group; and (2) an International Working Group on Ethics. The last group concentrated itself on the topic of human and labor rights in IT procurement. It brought together leading public buyers of IT as a means for exchange, stocktaking, discussion and identification of actions towards a next-generation ethical procurement of IT. Key objectives of this group included:

  • to bring together frontrunners (policymakers and procurers) regularly;
  • to gather the latest insights on practices and challenges from public authorities as preparatory research that could enable learning, development of new criteria or engagement with market actors;
  • to identify concrete actions to be taken for ethical procurement practice;
  • to enable exchange between procurement and policy perspective; and
  • to connect key outputs to other relevant European and international work

At its core, the group consisted of 18 committed members from Belgium, Norway, Spain, Sweden, UK, Denmark, Italy, Finland, Austria, the Netherlands and Switzerland. They were recruited by the Belgian Federal Institute for Sustainable Development (FISD) and ICLEI based on clear criteria at the start of the work program, with emphasis on frontrunners from different levels of government.

To understand their expectations, expertise and ambitions in more detail, a needs and status assessment process was carried out at the beginning of the project. The assessment clearly showed that the level of experience with ethical IT within the group varies, but the commitment is generally high. The results of the assessment showed the group’s main interest in the topics of labels, joint market dialogues, the follow-up process and exchanging and learning from good practice examples. As a result, the core work of the group was built around four workshops:

  • Exploring the use and credibility of labels;
  • Prioritizing issues to jointly push the industry further;
  • Discussing the follow-up process; and
  • Capturing good practice.

The FISD and ICLEI organized and moderated the workshops in an interactive online format. Beyond the workshops, the group had the opportunity to exchange information via a Slack channel, which was set up and maintained by the secretariat.

The full blog post can be read here