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14 September 2015  

How is catering linked to deforestation?

Public procurement of catering services has the potential to significantly decrease deforestation, according to a recent report by the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House (UK). The report points out that “As the public sector is a major purchaser of food and catering services for schools, nurseries, hospitals, care homes, canteens, prisons and the military, public procurement policies in this area clearly have the potential to promote the uptake of sustainable products not associated with deforestation.”

A pragmatic and targeted approach is recommended, building on public procurement policies which are already in place and focusing on including sustainability criteria for products which already have voluntary certification initiatives in place. The products identified include palm oil, cocoa, coffee and tea.

Collaboration between the public and private sector is also seen as an important area of focus, with procurement policies helping to spur purchasing decisions for private sector suppliers. Targeting public procurement policies is extremely important in terms of pushing the private sector to increase their efforts when it comes to sustainability. The report suggests that public authorities focus their sustainable procurement efforts on areas which are not yet being targeted by the private sector. In this way, a greater impact can be achieved in terms of overall sustainability.

For more information, read the Chatham House research paper.