*Winner of the Sustainable Procurement of the Year Procura+ Award 2019*

Located in the Flemish region of Belgium, Ghent is the capital and largest city of the East Flanders province, with about 250,000 inhabitants.  The City of Ghent introduced an action plan for sustainability - "Ghent 2020" - in 2008, which sets out an ambition to implement more than 105 actions and projects including sustainable procurement.


  • Clear Strategic Agenda, assisted by defined key performance indicators and clear targets
  • Sustainable festival organization through partnering of cultural organizations in the Green Track working Group
  • Support the supply of local good with an increase share of organic
  • Fleet transition towards electric and CNG vehicles, by 2030 the city's fleet will be diesel-free
  • First city to use Cradle-to-Cradle Certified cleaning products for all of its buildings
  • The City strives to become a low emission zone by 2020 and carbon neutral by 2050
  • By 2024 only buy fair trade products






Date joined


Jörn Laveyne




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The sustainable procurement strategy sets the priority on strategic purchasing with emphasis on sustainable return on investment.  Ghent updated its Sustainable Procurement Strategy in 2014.


  1. Minimizing the ecological footprint throughout the entire life cycle with a focus on:

    • Rational use of energy and independence of non-renewable energy
    • Minimizing the impact on local air quality through efficient and environmentally friendly transportation and deliveries
    • Avoiding waste

  2. Encouraging sustainable employment of disadvantaged groups with a focus on:

    • Increasing the opportunities on the labour market for job seekers from disadvantaged groups – with specific attention for youth unemployment
    • Strengthening the sustainable growth of the social economy sector

  3. Promoting sustainable innovations.
  4. Fostering local economic growth with special attention for start-ups and innovative companies.
  5. Integrating and assuring international labour standards and fair trade principles throughout the supply chain.
  6. Encouraging sustainable entrepreneurship amongst suppliers
  7. Increasing the maturity of the procurement function and striving towards excellence in procurement


In 2014 the decision was made to implement an eProcurement module SRM, as an interface to the enterprise software SAP. This eProcurement system allows a more structural approach to purchasing policies and enables centralised reporting on the basic spend analysis questions (when is what being bought by who from which supplier?). These analyses will be the basis for further grouping of contracts and dealing with maverick buying.


Combined with the new operational model for the city of Ghent, developing a closer link in operations between City of Ghent and its partners (OCMW Ghent, non-profit organizations, Cultural organizations, etc), the opportunity is explored for all new contracts to broaden the scope of customers to all partners within the Group Ghent. This creates significant opportunities with regards to economies of scale and achieving better prices for products, as well as freeing up procurement expertise resources by combining contracts and thus reducing overhead costs.


In order to realise its strategic goals, Ghent has pursued the integration of sustainable criteria in contracts, and the development of innovative processes and methodologies in order to realise strategic goals. At the EcoProcura 2014 conference, which Ghent hosted, the city signed a SUSTAINABLE PROCUREMENT STRATEGY and a Charter that obliges the city to spend 10 percent of its ICT budget on innovative solutions.


Ghent has been making improvements in its support for social economy businesses. It increased its contracts reserved for the social economy from one in 2014 to five in 2015, and then increased the value of social economy contracts two and a half times by 2016 (from €69.5m to €167.4m). In particular, 5.6% of its cleaning services are spent in the social economy.

Map, Navigation, Hands, Travel, Route, Journey, CitySTRATEGIC ROADMAP

In order to introduce sustainable procurement on a structural level into all contracts, a strategic roadmap was developed. This roadmap lists all the planned contracts for the near future (year+1) and enables the discussion with all relevant stakeholders in order to set individual targets for each contract taking the market maturity into account. By allowing the relevant policy advisors to engage in conversation with the respective procurers it is made sure that the contracts contribute optimally to the strategic goals of all parties involved.


Innovative ICT

The Digipolis Ghent project allocates 10% of the city's budget for ICT to procure innovative products and services or innovative procurement. To do so, it organises networking meetings between supplier and innovative ICT solutions and representatives of the city, police, social services department, agencies and associations of the city of Ghent.


In 2016 Ghent established a four year framework agreement for the supply of cleaning and polishing products which required that products in certain categories met the Cradle 2 Cradle label Bronze level. As a result, 85% of cardboard is made from recycled material, and PET plastic products are made from 81% recycled material.

Ethical and sustainable workwear  

In line with the social responsibility requirements in its procurement policy, the City of Ghent launched a pilot procurement for ethically produced workwear. The city decided to divide the framework agreement into five lots that required varying degrees of social and environmental performance and developed a toolbox that defines each level of performance, and the proof bidders had to submit. It also details the supplier journey towards more responsible workwear, which they commit to through contract clauses. Supplier performance is verified by third parties, with Ghent also working in partnership with them to deliver on the improvements. 

Food and Catering    

The City of Ghent strives to create a shorter, more visible food chain and encourage sustainable food prodcution and consumption. This also includes the creation of more social added value for food initiatives. The City stimualtes the reduction of food waste and the reuse of food waste for nes products. The City has awarded a ocntract for 800.000 meals per year that includes a share of 23% organic and fair products. The meals are delivered sustainably. The menu inlcudes a veggie day and based on regionally seasonal produce. The contract also includes requirements for sustainable fishing and ethically raised animal products as well as ethical working conditions for the employees of the catering company.






Improving the enviornmental performance of fire fleets.


Transformative Action Award 2018

Winner of the Transformative Action Award 2018 for its actions in transforming the food system.