The German NAP includes a specific section on public procurement.

1.2 Public procurement [page 21-22]

“The total value of public procurement contracts amounts to about €280 billion a year. The federal, state, and local authorities bear particular responsibility in this domain, in that they must discharge the state duty to protect human rights and ensure that the use of public funds does not cause or foster any adverse impact on human rights. By placing greater emphasis on sustainability in their procurement transactions, public authorities not only perform their function as role models but can also wield significant leverage in increasing the supply of sustainable products. The 2030 Agenda also makes explicit reference to sustainable public procurement as an instrument in the quest for sustainable development.

The current situation

“Germany has fully transformed into domestic law its obligations to protect human rights under international agreements. This applies, for example, to the prohibitions of child labour and forced labour that are imposed by the ILO core conventions. If enterprises break the law in Germany in either of these respects, they can be disqualified from receiving public contracts. The Federal Government is already implementing a number of measures designed to promote sustainable public procurement by federal, state and local authorities and institutions:

  • Since 2010, the federal, state and local authorities have been cooperating in the framework of the Alliance for Sustainable Procurement, chaired by the Federal Government. Its purpose is to contribute to a significant increase in the percentage of sustainable goods and services among the purchases made by public bodies. The Alliance enables the main public procuring bodies to share their experience and is intended to contribute to more widespread application of uniform national and international standards by all three tiers of government – federal, state and local.
  • Since 2012, the Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Procurement at the Procurement Office of the Federal Ministry of the Interior has been assisting public contracting bodies in applying procurement criteria. The Centre of Excellence is available to assist procurers in situ, for example by providing advice in person or by telephone and by forwarding information material. In 2014, the Centre of Excellence, along with the BITKOM association of German digital goods and service firms, drew up an initial sectoral agreement in the form of a Declaration on Social Sustainability for IT, which provides for adherence to the ILO core labour standards in procurement procedures. Other sectoral agreements on critical product categories are planned.
  • Other Federal Government initiatives and support measures are to be found in the Programme of Sustainability Measures, into which Federal Government targets for sustainable procurement have been incorporated.
  • “Kompass Nachhaltigkeit” (sustainability compass), an information platform funded by the Federal Government, provides an overview of sustainability standard systems and supplementary requirements and assists public contracting bodies in incorporating a sustainability dimension into their procurement procedures.
  • The “Fair Procurement Network“ of municipalities, which is part of the service agency Communities in One World, provides advice to municipalities, among other things, and familiarises local authorities with the issue of sustainable procurement through specialised promoters. An information and dialogue campaign entitled “Deutschland Fairgleicht “ informs municipal decision-makers and contracting bodies and raises their awareness of sustainable procurement.

Following the reform of procurement law in 2016, with which three new EU procurement directives were transposed into German law, the new Part IV of the Restraints of Competition Act lays particular emphasis on observance of the law, especially taxation, labour and social legislation (sections 97(3) and 128(1) of the Act). The new legal framework enables procurement bodies to make greater use of public contracting to underpin the pursuit of strategic goals such as social standards, environmental protection and innovation.”


  • “The Federal Government will examine whether and to what extent binding minimum requirements for the corporate exercise of human rights due diligence can be enshrined in procurement law in a future revision. It will draw up a phased plan indicating how this aim can be achieved.
  • The expertise of the Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Procurement in matters of human rights, including the application of the ILO core conventions to procurement procedures, and in the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles will be used to expand the knowledge of procurement staff in the context of training courses.”

VI. Monitoring [page 41]

“The National Action Plan marks the starting point of a process that will be continuously updated and developed. The process will be shaped by the implementation of the measures for which this Plan provides as well as by a comprehensive procedure for monitoring the implementation of these measures by all players.

To this end, the Federal Government is planning, subject to budgetary approval, the immediate execution of the following steps: …

“The interministerial committee will verify the implementation and coherence of the adopted measures and drive forward the development of the NAP implementation process. The main areas of activity to come under its scrutiny will be the measures relating to the state duty to protect (public procurement, promotion of external trade, etc.) and the fleshing-out of due diligence obligations (chapter III above), including the planned definition of sectoral specifications and the corresponding support services.”