The Nordic countries enjoy high standards of living, but they also stand out in global rankings as over-consumers of natural resources with major challenges to realising SDG 12 - Sustainable consumption and production. With several billions spent on public procurement each year in the Nordic countries, procurement is a powerful tool to leverage sustainability at a large scale. This is also reflected in a report from the Nordic Council of Ministers (2021) where public procurement is referred to as ‘the missing multiplier’, emphasizing that public procurement can impact all 17 SDGs while addressing 82 percent of the targets.  
This policy brief is based on the final instalment of Nordregio’s three Localising Agenda 2030 webinars held in March 2022. It aims to highlight the lessons learned from front-runner municipalities, as well as inspire local and national decision-makers to invest in and build capacity for sustainable procurement processes. In this webinar, the municipalities of Gladsaxe, Denmark, and Vantaa, Finland, shared how they have altered local procurement processes to align with sustainability goals. Together with panellists from the National Agency for Public Procurement in Sweden, the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO) in Norway, and KEINO in Finland, the discussion addressed how other municipalities can use public procurement to strengthen sustainability practices and SDG mainstreaming across the Nordic Region.  
What is sustainable public procurement?  
Public procurement is the purchase of goods and services by public institutions. Purchases span across many sectors and activities such as food, construction, energy, transportation, electronic products, and waste management. Sustainable procurement practices refer to the process of public institutions to include sustainability perspectives across social, economic, and environmental dimensions when procuring goods and services (KEINO, 2018). Under SDG 12, Target 12.7 specifically addresses public procurement in its description: to “promote public procurement practices that are sustainable, in accordance with national policies and priorities.” The Nordic countries have, and increasingly are, promoting the importance of public procurement in the context of green and sustainable development, moving from linear approaches to circular practices. 


Annual expenditure (approximate) on public procurement in the Nordic Region
Information on public procurement expenditure retrieved from Sweden (Upphandlingsmyndigheten, 2020); Finland (Ministry of the Environment, 2018), Denmark (Ministry of Finance, 2020), Norway (Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, 2021) and Iceland provided by Central Public Procurement (Ríkiskaup) in Iceland on 1 March 2022. All figures have been converted from local currency to Euros. 

  • Sweden: EUR 77 billion 
  • Finland: EUR 35 billion 
  • Denmark: EUR 51 billion 
  • Norway: EUR 63 billion 
  • Iceland: EUR 332 million