Researchers at Royal Holloway university have found that Brazilians and Chileans want the state to buy on social and environmental criteria, not just on price.
Based on this pioneering research, researchers from Royal Holloway have been invited to be the first academics to join the UN Environmental Programme's global Sustainable Public Procurement Initiative and attend its meeting in Paris this week.
The Choices Project is a collaboration between Royal Holloway, the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro and Universidad Diego Portales. The project team also involves the Ethical Consumer Research Association in the UK, Instituto Akatu in Brazil and Ciudadano Responsable in Chile. It uniquely looks to compare consumers' ethical opinions and behaviour with government procedures for purchasing collectively on behalf of citizens.
Main findings from the project include:
- 85% of Chileans say that the state should buy from companies with a good social and environmental record.
- In Brazil, the top criteria people want the state to take into account when making buying decisions are: animal welfare (89%), energy efficiency (88%), that the product is certified as environmentally friendly (87%), good working conditions for labourers (86%) and that the company has good relations with the local community (86%).
- In Chile, the top criteria people want the state to take into account when making buying decisions are: that the product is certified as environmentally friendly (83%), energy efficiency (82%), that the company has good relations with the local community (79%), that the company has certification for good working conditions (78%) and animal welfare (77%).
- Less frequently supported in both countries was the fact that the product is Brazilian/Chilean, that the product is organic, from a small enterprise or a known brand - but all of these are still supported by more than half of citizens surveyed.
- Both Chileans and Brazilians show a great degree of distrust in state institutions and large transnational enterprises.
Principal Investigator Dr Dorothea Kleine from the Department of Geography at Royal Holloway said: "Policy makers we have presented these findings to have welcomed them. For the first time we have evidence of the criteria people want the state to use - and we can compare this with data on their own individual buying practices.
"It is going to be challenging to implement these changes, not least trying to ensure good value for money, but we look forward to continued discussions with policy makers at the UNEP conference in Paris to see how we can put them into practice."
The Project is funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID).