Publication - Advice and guidance

Biodiversity: sustainable procurement guidance

Guidance for public bodies covering the purchase of products or services that have potential negative impacts on biodiversity.

Biodiversity: sustainable procurement guidance
Supplier selection

Supplier selection

Deciding what stage biodiversity requirements are appropriate will depend on the exact wording and the particular procurement requirement, some issues may be addressed at either stage (but not at both). It needs to be emphasised that the biodiversity requirements must be both proportionate and relevant and there must be a clear methodology to evaluate responses. 

Where services are being procured care must be taken to make sure that requirements placed on tenderers are both relevant and proportionate. In terms of products supplied, a tenderer may have responsibility for the production methods and place of origin. 

Selection criteria are concerned with the capability and capacity of an economic operator to deliver the concerned contract. They do not focus on how an economic operator proposes to perform the contract; this is assessed at the award stage. The key point in ensuring that contact opportunities are accessible is to make sure that the selection criteria are proportionate to the requirement.  

Where a biodiversity requirement is considered relevant, it may not always be appropriate to assess it at this stage. Contracting authorities must give consideration to whether previous experience of delivering a contract where biosecurity was relevant is required to be able to deliver the proposed contract. Care must be undertaken when establishing relevant experience so small and medium sized enterprises and new suppliers in the market are not prohibited from bidding.  

When selecting suppliers it is essential to assess the technical capabilities that will be required for the products or services you are procuring to meet your needs. Not only is this useful from the buyer’s point of view, as suppliers that can clearly not meet the requirement will be eliminated, but it is also useful for the suppliers as they have a very clear understanding of how serious you are about sustainability and what will be essential for their submission to be successful.   

Any selection criteria deemed appropriate must be tested through the format of the European Single Procurement Document (ESPD). The ESPD consists of a fixed set of questions that allows bidders to self-declare whether they meet the exclusion and selection criteria. Contracting authorities must incorporate statements into their contract notice or prior information notice (PIN) to help with the interpretation of the standardised questions in the ESPD. If you are looking for experience of biosecurity in the past, then this could be worked into the experience related sections of the ESPD (parts 4C.1 and 4C.1.2 as candidates to provide relevant examples of contract carried out in the past, “as specified in the Contract Notice”).    

To assess the capability of suppliers in understanding the relevant issues and working sympathetically in areas sensitive to harm: 

‘In answering question 4C.1 please detail your understanding, experience and achievements in cost-effectively providing [insert service] services that minimise the harm and maximise the enhancement of biodiversity.’ 

‘In answering question 4C.1 please detail your understanding, experience and achievements in providing alternative products or materials to reduce adverse biodiversity impacts for a similar project.’ 

An ideal response would provide the following: 

  1. Evidence of having achieved reduced adverse impacts or made improvements for clients.
  2. Evidence of having achieved reduced adverse biodiversity impact for clients using alternative products/materials and providing recommendations for changes/adaptations to reduce adverse impacts in a cost effective way.