Sustainable procurement – a beneficial partnership
The Swedish International Centre for Local Democracy (ICLD) has entered into a partnership with the German Development Institute (DIE) in order to learn about and be inspired by their work with sustainable procurement.
After a dialogue forum held in Bremen by DIE, ICLD’s Municipal Partnership Programme Director, Karin Norlin Bogren, had this to say:
“I’m pleased that Ale municipality took advantage of the opportunity to attend and I believe the foundations have been laid for a strong, mutually beneficial partnership in which both parties can learn a lot from each other and acquire new skills.”
Karin Norlin Bogren, along with Ann Linde Koolman, Ale municipality’s Procurement Director, attended the two-day dialogue forum in Bremen on the theme of innovative, sustainable procurement.
“It was very interesting. I listened to a lot of presentations and two things struck me. One was how familiar most of the situations in other EU countries sounded. It was particularly exciting to hear, during the German presentations, how we were thinking along the same lines and facing the same challenges,” says Ann Linde Koolman, who is involved on a daily basis in the procurement processes for the municipality’s various units.
The other thing that struck Ann was the African countries’ operating conditions during procurement processes. Their ambitions are the same as those in the European countries – but their democratic operating conditions are very different.
“Everyone abide by the relevant laws and regulations, but they were talking about corruption and that threats against administrative officials are a fact of life,” says Ann.
Have people attempted to bribe or threaten you, or to pressure you in some other way?
“I’ve been working with procurement for a great many years now, but have never been pressured. People have respect for the law and long-term sustainability, for competition and transparency. And if I am offered something or invited to dinners, I say, “No, thanks.”
Ale Municipality has been an active member of ICLD’s programme since 2009, with partnerships in both Moldavia and Botswana.
“Swedish municipalities’ involvement is very important to ICLD because there is considerable demand for Swedish partners. We view Ale as an enquiring and forward-looking municipality, and they are, for example, the only Swedish municipality to have a multiparty partnership with one party from an eastern European country and another from an African one,” says Karin Norlin Bogren.
Ann Linde Koolman thinks that an ICLD partnership would be progressive.
“Personally, I think they’re great and great fun – partnerships are enriching in so many ways: they help you understand the outside world, and they might also strengthen colleagues elsewhere in the world. My municipality works with a variety of different partnerships, but partnership-based work on procurement issues isn’t currently on the agenda. There is an interest in this approach, however, and new politicians are coming on board, so who knows what might happen down the line?”
What did you gain from your discussions with ICLD’s Karin Norlin Bogren?
“A lot! We had several good discussions and exchanged a wide range of ideas. I gained an insight into how ICLD works, into how important it is that parties contribute, collaborate, and work steadfastly on making progress to create a better future.”
One thing that emerged during the conference in Bremen was that there is a substantial demand for the exchange of knowledge and experience amongst representatives of local authorities and administrations across both national and cultural borders.
“It would be brilliant if ICLD received an application on the theme of sustainable procurement, maybe linked to accountability and transparency or participation. Sustainable procurement is a very topical and important theme for everyone,” says Karin Norlin Bogren.