Sustainable public procurement


In Switzerland, over 40 billion Swiss francs are spent annually on public procurement. Based on existing bidding data and taking into consideration various sustainability indicators, we are developing effective criteria for sustainable procurement.

Project description (ongoing research project)

Each year, over 40 billion Swiss francs are spent on public procurement at the federal, cantonal and municipal levels. Procurement offices can already define ecological and social guidelines by means of suitable criteria. In accordance with new international and national procurement law and international agreements, sustainability criteria are to be taken into account to an even greater extent. Within the framework of this research project we will therefore develop sustainability criteria for public tenders that are based on previous procurements and performance indicators from the sustainability reports of companies. The result will be an inventory of procurement-specific suitability and approval criteria, checked and tested in procurement practice.


Sustainability criteria are already being applied in some public tenders to achieve environmental and social objectives. But there are no standardised criteria, either in the literature or in the practice of issuing agencies and the courts, that can be applied simply and systematically.


The aim of the research project is to initially determine the status quo of Swiss procurement regarding sustainability criteria. For this purpose we will evaluate over 50,000 computerised procurement tenders. We will then develop specific suitability and approval criteria along the performance indictors of the “Global Reporting Initiative” that can be taken into account for future public tenders. We will analyse these criteria for legal compliance and for their acceptance within the procurement environment.


The social relevance of the project is to use the 40 billion Swiss francs spent annually in Switzerland on public procurement in the interests of a sustainable economy. We also intend to develop assistance for non-public procurement in order to actively contribute towards a sustainable economy. The resulting criteria should serve as a possible template for procurement in other countries. The project thus contributes towards sustainable development in general and a sustainable economy in Switzerland in particular.

Original title

Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP): Developing and Testing Sustainability Indicators for Public Procurement Tenders in Switzerland in line with the WTO Government Procurement Agreement - and their Social Acceptability and Legal Feasibility

Project leaders

Project leaders

  • Prof. Dr. Dr. Peter Seele, Ethics and Communication Law Center, Università della Svizzera Italiana
  • Dr. Matthias Stürmer, Institut für Wirtschaftsinformatik, Universität Bern
  • Prof. Dr. Federica De Rossa Gisimundo, Istituto di diritto, Università della Svizzera Italiana

Project partner

  • Prof. Dr. Irina Lock, Amsterdam School of Communication Research, University of Amsterdam



Further information on this content



Prof. Dr. Dr. Peter Seele Ethics and Communication Law Center, Università della Svizzera Italiana via Giuseppe Buffi 13 6904 Lugano +41 58 666 42 96

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