Important changes to the procurement regulations – tightening requirements to consider climate and environmental concerns
The changes in the procurement regulations, rooted in the Hurdal Platform's ambitions for a more sustainable and environmentally friendly business sector, will have significant implications for both suppliers and contracting authorities. The clear message is that sustainability and innovation will become even more central competitive factors, while the burden on contracting authorities to ensure climate-friendly solutions in the design and implementation of their procurements will increase.
A 2022 investigation by the Riksrevisjonen (Office of the Auditor General) reveals that the public sector inadequately utilizes its purchasing power to minimize environmental impact and promote climate-friendly solutions. Consequently, the changes in the procurement regulations have been adopted to support ambitious sustainability goals and promote climate and environmentally friendly initiatives, thereby reinforcing climate and environmental requirements in public procurements. Sustainable solutions will no longer be merely an option but an essential competitive advantage.
The new provisions will come into effect on January 1, 2024, and will be included in the procurement regulations section 7-9, the supply regulations section 7-9, and the concession contract regulations section 7-6.
Climate and environmental considerations to be weighted at a minimum of 30%
As a general rule, contracting authorities must weigh climate and environmental considerations as award criteria with a minimum of 30%. If the contracting authority specifies the award criteria in a prioritized order, criteria that address climate and environmental concerns should be prioritized among the top three criteria.
Alternatively, evaluation criteria may be replaced with requirements in the specification
If it is evident that climate and environmental requirements in the specification lead to better climate and environmental effects, the award criteria may be replaced with requirements in the specification.
Justification requirement for contracting authorities
If contracting authorities deviate from the main rule of 30% weighting/prioritization, either by setting climate and environmental requirements in the specification or by not setting such requirements at all, this must be justified and documented in the procurement documents.
Guidance material from DFØ
Currently, there is limited guidance on the specific content of the rules. The regulatory provisions allow for considerable discretion for individual purchasers regarding which climate and environmental requirements to set and how to formulate them. However, establishing suitable climate and environmental requirements that fulfil the general requirements of the procurement regulations can be a challenging task for contracting authorities.
The Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Fisheries (Nærings- og fiskeridepartementet) states in its press release that the Directorate for Public Management and Financial Control (Direktoratet for forvaltning og økonomistyring, DFØ) will develop guidance and examples to facilitate the use of the new provisions for contracting authorities.