Climate and Nature

How climate-smart procurement can tackle climate change in Nigeria

Climate-smart procurement can help to reduce carbon emissions.

Climate-smart procurement can help to reduce carbon emissions.

Temidayo Akenroye
Associate Professor of Supply Chain & Analytics, University of Missouri-St. Louis
Adegboyega Oyedijo
Lecturer in Operations and Supply Chain Management, University of Leicester
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Climate and Nature

  • Public procurement can be used to improve carbon reduction targets, but many African countries have not made significant commitments.
  • The Nigerian government has announced an energy transition plan to achieve net-zero by 2060 but progress is slow.
  • We outline how policy-makers in developing countries like Nigeria can use public procurement as a strategy to combat climate change.

In recent years, there has been a growing focus on strengthening government procurement in Nigeria, which accounts for between 10-15% of the nation’s GDP. Effective procurement is now considered a policy tool for fighting corruption and improving the economies of different countries. Besides anti-corruption and economic improvement, public procurement is a valuable tool for improving environmental sustainability efforts.

Since the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, public procurement policy has become more widely used to address environmental challenges, including carbon emissions. Many developed countries, like the USA, Japan, Canada, South Korea, and Australia, and rapidly developing Asian countries, like China, Thailand, the Philippines, as well as African countries like South Africa have demonstrated this.

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Public procurement can be used to improve carbon reduction goals, but there is no such explicit political commitment in Nigeria. As of 2021, Nigeria had 127 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Although the government announced the Energy Transition Plan (ETP) in August 2022, intending to reach net-zero by 2060, progress is slow compared to the level of climate action needed to limit global warming. Therefore, for Nigeria to reach its target, it requires further strategic interventions and internal policy reforms, such as the adoption of climate-smart public procurement.

Climate-smart procurement

The term "climate-smart procurement" refers to a method of sourcing goods and services that helps reduce carbon emissions. In developing countries like Nigeria, net-zero goals can be much closer to being achieved if the procurement process considers product externalities including carbon emission rate, energy consumption potential, and disposal consequences. However, several barriers, including a lack of an appropriate legal framework, a lack of political will, a lack of knowledge about Green Public Procurement (GPP), a lack of GPP skills, and a lack of access to green products, impede Nigeria's and several African countries' ability to be successful with climate-smart procurement.

Therefore, the key question is how can policy-makers in developing countries like Nigeria use public procurement as a strategy to combat climate change?

Our previous research, which explores how public procurement can help achieve sustainability targets suggest several actionable measures for developing countries like Nigeria, that have yet to make strong commitments to climate action. Such efforts concentrate on promoting carbon reduction through public procurement, leveraging the government's purchasing power to combat climate change.

5 ways to implement climate-smart procurement in Nigeria

1. Establish a national action plan for climate-smart procurement

The Nigerian government should create a national strategy for climate-smart procurement as part of its ambition for sustainable development. To get started, the government could release a white paper outlining its goals in this area, one of which would be to ensure that public procurement exercises prioritize energy efficiency, low pollution, substances must be of low hazardous chemicals and recyclable products. Public procurement in Nigeria is regulated by a legal framework as it stands. Therefore, new regulation is unnecessary to promote environmentally friendly purchasing in the country. The current law should be modified, adding specific clauses mandating government agencies and ministries to evaluate the lifecycle cost of options when making new procurement decisions. Additionally, it should be mandated that current contractors openly disclose their annual corporate-level greenhouse gas emissions and establish reduction goals.

2. Link environmental impact/carbon reduction criteria into supplier selection

As people become more conscious of the effects of climate change, incorporating energy efficiency measures into selecting suppliers has become increasingly important to mitigate the effects of our warming planet. The tender evaluation process should be utilized to encourage carbon reduction pledges from public sector contractors in Nigeria. Considering environmental and economic factors, supplier selection will strengthen government supply networks against climate risks.

3. Establish a national eco-labelling scheme

One of the major challenges of environmentally friendly procurement is a lack of access to, and identification of, green products. Most countries that are advanced in this area commenced with a series of labelling programmes, starting with energy classification. The Nigerian government should establish a labelling scheme containing standard sets of rating criteria for carbon emissions potentials/sustainability performance of different products and services. This can help procurement professionals gain access to detailed information on products' environmental performance and benefits, allowing them to make informed purchasing decisions, which in the long run will boost domestic manufacturing and consumption of eco-friendly goods.

4. Multi-stakeholder collaboration to drive compliance/enforcement

Policies for climate-smart procurement need to be put into action and enforced by a number of regulatory bodies and relevant parties working together. Key stakeholders must collaborate to provide guidelines, processes, protocols, and templates to implement a national climate-smart procurement action in Nigeria, such as the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), the office of the Head of Service, the National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA), the Federal Ministry of Environment, suppliers of sustainable products/services, procurements experts, sustainability/environmental experts, Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON), and the media.

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5. Training and capacity development

The concept of using procurement to boost environmental performance is not new to experts; nonetheless, there is a skills-vacuum in this area, particularly in the public sector, that prevents programmes from being translated into practice. Therefore, significant work is needed to improve the skills, knowledge, and abilities of procurement officers. The BPP, for example, should develop specialized training for civil servants on how to implement public procurement to reduce carbon emissions. Experts in procurement must acquire new skills in order to incorporate carbon reduction targets and environmental criteria into tender specifications, bid evaluations, and contract development/performance review.

In order to be effective in implementing climate-smart procurement, policy-makers must objectively measure the impact or success of the programme. Hence, Nigeria will need a “Steering Group” or “National Sustainable Procurement Task Force” to report progress to the government.

Overall, given that public procurement can be used to improve carbon reduction targets, but many African countries have not made significant commitments, we believe these steps could be useful to other African countries facing similar challenges.

Co-authors of this blog: Jill Bernard Bracy, PhD, Associate Teaching Professor, University of Missouri-St. Louis; and Anisa Kabir, PhD, Research Assistant, The University of Salford.

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Related topics:
Climate and NatureClimate ChangeSustainable Development
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