**Winner of the Procura+ Award for Sustainable Procurement of the Year 2018**

Flanders is the Northern federated state of Belgium, with Brussels as its capital. The Government of Flanders has been working on responsible public procurement since 2008. Since 2016, responsible public procurement became a part of the overall strategy on procurement of the Government of Flanders urging procurers to evaluate opportunities for sustainability in every contract.


  • Strategic and coordinated policy for public procurement with responsible public procurement as one of the strategic objectives
  • Minimum criteria for 10 product groups, plus guidance and criteria suggestions on a further 17 product groups (in cooperation with the federal government and other regions)
  • Framework agreements integrating social and environmental clauses are open for local authorities (where possible)
  • A contract management system and a reporting system for all public procurement in the government administration
  • Climate plan for the Government of Flanders aiming for climate neutrality by 2045, with SMART goals for 2030:

    • 55% reduction target by 2030 for CO2 emissions due to transport (domestic business travel) and to energy use of own buildings and infrastructure, compared to 2015 levels
    • 35% reduction by 2030 of primary energy use of own buildings and infrastructure, compared to 2015 levels






    Date joined

    2,2 bil





    Els Verwimp

    Expert on responsible public procurement


    WEBSITE (Dutch)


    More information? Email procurement@iclei.org  



    The Government of Flanders has been working on responsible public procurement since 2008. During the period 2009-2015 two action plans were adopted detailing the actions towards more responsible public procurement. Then responsible public procurement became a part of an integrated strategy on public procurement, urging procurers to evaluate opportunities for sustainability in every contract. 

    In the first half of 2022, Flanders adopted generic guidelines for public procurement, which include three large strategic objectives:

    • professionalisation of public procurement
    • responsible public procurement
    • public purchasing power as a catalyst for innovation

    The strategic goal on responsible public procurement addresses public procurement as a means to reach important environmental, social and ethical policy goals and to increase SME participation in public procurement.

    With its Programme for Innovation Procurement (PIP), the Government of Flanders aims to use its substantial purchasing power strategically as a catalyst for innovation. The aim of PIP is to convince every Flemish policy maker, public manager and purchaser in the broader public sector of the added value of innovation procurement. It is PIP’s goal to make innovation procurement a structural tool for optimising the performance of the public sector and its services, and for addressing societal challenges. A total of 4 million euro is available annually to support organizations in their innovation procurement projects. The primary focus on the plan of the guidelines is on the entities of the Government of Flanders which are responsible for the realisation of the strategic goals. The local authorities within the region of Flanders are in the secondary scope of the guidelines. They also provide a framework for local authorities to develop their own actions on responsible public procurement and state that the Government of Flanders will support local authorities in responsible public procurement through opening up its framework agreements where possible and sharing information, tools and best practice examples.


    The Flemish government approved in July 2008 a first Action Plan on innovation procurement. In 2016 the new Programme for Innovation Procurement (PIP) was launched. The PIP is coordinated by EWI (Flemish ministry of economy, science and innovation) in cooperation with VLAIO (Flemish agency for innovation and entrepreneurship). PIP offers guidance and financial support to public organisations, stimulating them to procure innovative solutions. The PIP has developed a portfolio of more than 100 inspiring innovation procurement projects. Information on the PIP methodology and on its projects is available on the PIP-website. The results and impact of PIP will be subject of an in depth independent evaluation in 2022. The conclusions of this evaluation will help the policymakers to decide upon the role PIP will play in the Flemish procurement policy beyond 2023.


    For the most important elements of sustainable public procurement, the Government of Flanders is able to report on the uptake of responsible public procurement in the tender documents through its contract management system eDelta. Setting up such a system is time-consuming, but finally, from January 2018 on, a significant group of organizations within the Government of Flanders has to log the information on all their procurements from €30.000 up in eDelta. The information on sustainability is gathered by no less than 10 different mandatory questions on environmental aspects, social and ethical aspects and innovative procurement, thus taking into account the huge possibilities and differences in real life practice. The questions are:

    • Use of essential sustainability criteria [1]: entirely integrated in the tender document / not or partially integrated in the tender document / the procurement doesn’t concern a product group for which essential criteria were defined
    • Location / phase of sustainability criteria: selection criteria / award criteria / technical specifications and execution clauses (multiple answers possible)
    • Certificates on environmental management required: relevant and in the tender document / relevant but not in the tender document because of specific reasons / not relevant
    • Access limited to social economy enterprises: yes / no
    • Part of the contract performance phase reserved for social economy enterprises: yes / no
    • Use of a social clause in the tender document aimed at employment, education and training …: yes / no

    • Use of ethical clause: relevant and in the tender document / relevant but not in the tender document because of specific reasons / not relevant – Procurement doesn’t concern good with high risk
    • Natural stone: Natural stone is used during the execution of the contract: yes / no

    • Innovative procurement: the innovation is situated in a pre-commercial phase of research and development (PCP) / the innovation is situated in both the pre-commercial as the commercial phase / The innovation is situated in the commercial phase ( (PPI) / there’s no innovative aspect

    The contract management system builds on a system that has been in place in the Agency for Roads and Traffic. Furthermore, the Energy and Spatial Development Department did a small scale test on monitoring of responsible public procurement from 2012 until 2018 in order to integrate the lessons learned in eDelta (read more on this here).

    From 2018 on, the Government of Flanders has focused on getting all entities on board with the use of eDelta in order to get complete and good data. This is an important step to take before using the data. Now, the Government of Flanders has entered a new stage. In this stage, a reporting environment is being developed in order to give each organisation within the Government of Flanders an inside in its uptake of responsible public procurement (expected to be online by the end of 2022). The overall numbers for the Government of Flanders will be published here. General data on the public procurement of the Government of Flanders is available here.

    Although there was no periodic or fixed reporting on responsible public procurement before 2022, based on limited analyses on the data from eDelta, there are clear indications that the entities of the Government of Flanders have paid a lot of attention to making public procurement more sustainable. This gave a first, more qualitative, insight in the activities of the procurers.

    [1] The Government of Flanders uses minimum sustainability criteria for 10 product groups, plus guidance and criteria suggestions on a further 17 product groups.




    The Government of Flanders developed an ‘Office Indoor Lighting LCC-Tool’. The tool is available in both English and Dutch. The tool has been developed to help governments to calculate the total cost of ownership (TCO), the life cycle costs (LCC) and CO2 emissions of an indoor lighting project to assist in procurement decision making.

    The Office Indoor Lighting LCC-Tool (Government of Flanders) is to be seen as a tool complementary to the ‘LCC-tool indoor lighting’ of the European Commission (EC). Both tools are based on the same principles and data (e.g. for CO2 information) and the development teams regularly coordinated their efforts to guarantee a common basis. Broadly speaking, the Office Indoor Lighting LCC-Tool offers you the following additional options:

    • Input of a complex building structure with a large quantity of different lighting devices (LCC-tool indoor lighting (EC): max. 5 types of lighting devices)
    • Both acquisition and lease contracts
    • The option to consider embedded emissions from the production and end-of life stage, if an Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) is available for all lighting devices

    The different regional governments in Belgium (Government of Flanders, Service Public de Wallonie and the Brussels Capital Region) also use the TOTEM tool for buildings [Tool to Optimise the Total Environmental impact of Materials]. This tool isn’t a Life Cycle Costing (LCC) tool, but a Life Cycle Impact Assesment (LCIA) tool that aggregates the environmental impacts of a building design during its entire life cycle. In the tool you can find the impact of a building design per environmental indicator (climate change, ecotoxicity, depletion of abiotic resources,…) but also calculate an aggregated score expressed in ‘environmental mill points per square meter Gross Floor area’ of the building. The tool can be used in itself, but it is also a part of the sustainability tool GRO, which is used by the Flemish Government in its real estate projects.


    In order to support and stimulate a more circular economy in Flanders, the Government of Flanders, together with Flemish public and private partners, set up Circular Flanders. Circular Flanders is the hub and the inspiration for the circular economy in Flanders. It is a partnership of governments, companies, civil society, and the knowledge community that take action together. In 2021 a new governance structure was launched, focussing on six themed strategic agenda’s and 7 strategic levers. One of these levers is circular procurement.

    In 2017, Circular Flanders set up a Green Deal on Circular Procurement in collaboration with The Shift, the Flemish Association for Cities and Municipalities (VVSG), and the Better Living Environment Union (Bond Beter Leefmilieu). Over two years, more than 150 organisations committed themselves to jointly purchase according to circular models, or facilitate circular procurement projects. The knowledge and insights acquired from two years of trials are shared here. The network that was build has grown to an international community on LinkedIn.

    In 2019 Circular Flanders became a partner in the Interreg NSR project ProCirc. The aim of the project is to create a joined European framework for circular procurement and learn together. Over 30 pilot projects and 18 communities of practice are launched across the region, aiming at reducing the use of virgin materials, creation of waste and CO2-e.

    Also in 2019, Circular Flanders launched a Flemish Green Deal on Circular construction with over 350 participants. A community of practice on circular procurement in construction has been set up as a part of it and is still ongoing. Since its origin in 2021, Circular Flanders is chair of the ECESP Leadership group on Circular Procurement.

    Since 2021, Circular Flanders also became one of the Belgian coordinating organisations for the Circular and Fair ICT Pact (CFIT), together with the Belgian federal government and Service Public de Wallonie. Together with its partners, Circular Flanders will provide a network for IT procurers and will actively work in the different working groups of the CFIT.


    The Government of Flanders strongly believes in the value of making procurement practices as digital as possible. The implementation of e-Procurement has been one of the key focusses during the last 10 years. A project on e-invoicing has led to the achievement of almost 80% e-invoices.


    The Government of Flanders started a new project concerning SME-participation in public procurement. The goal of the project is on the one hand to encourage public buyers to give more attention to SME’s and on the other hand to convince SME’s to participate in public procurement procedures. The project also focusses on providing data on the participation of SME’s and on explaining the legal framework and the opportunities for SME’s within this legal framework. A first online event on 7 December 2021 was a huge success with already 263 viewers. 

    All information about this project is publicly available for all interested parties here.


    From 2022 on, the Government of Flanders will cooperate with the Dutch Governments (a.o. Rijkswaterstaat) to develop, update and publish criteria for responsible public procurement. The cooperation will lead to largely common criteria for responsible public procurement. The criteria will be published on a web platform, presenting the criteria in a dynamic way for all (public) procurers in the Netherlands and Flanders. The cooperation will start from the already existing Dutch SPPcriteriatool. More information, in Dutch, can be found here.



    CO2-performance ladder project

    Instrument that helps organizations reduce their carbon emissions in the organization, in projects and in the business sector. Partnership with Wallonia and Brussels.


    TruStone Project

    Tackling human right violations in the natural stone sector. Partnership with Dutch Government.



    For further information on the activities of Flanders visit their website:

    Website (English)

    Website (Dutch)

    or email procurement@iclei.org