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About Sustainability Compass

The Sustainability Compass supports procurement operators in considering social and environmental aspects in the public procurement process.

Last updated: July 2019


The amount of works, supplies and services procured by the public sector in Germany is estimated at 350 billion euros per annum. This creates opportunities for the public sector to set a good example for a sustainable economy and to provide incentives for establishing social and environmental standards along global supply chains.

Founded in 2010, the aim of the web portal Sustainability Compass is to support and motivate practitioners to integrate social and environmental sustainability aspects into the procurement process.

In 2014, the web portal was upgraded to include a service for municipalities: the Municipality Compass. The municipal service has the objective to support procurement officers of Municipalities and offers many best-practice examples as well as information on legal frameworks for municipalities in Germany. The service is provided be the Service Agency Communities in One World of Engagement Global.

After the 2014 EU directives had been implemented in German law in 2016, the Sustainability Standards Comparison Tool (SSCT) was included into the product search of the Sustainability Compass. The SSCT allows filtering and comparing of labels and other sustainability standards on the basis of sustainability criteria selected by the user.

The Sustainability Compass is constantly being extended by new elements and content to provide procurement operators with up to date information and hands-on support.

Objective of the Website

The webportal pursues its objective by applying the following approach:

1. The Sustainability Compass disseminates information:

Public tendering procedures offer various possibilities to integrate sustainability aspects. The room for manouevre and measures to integrate sustainability in different phases of the procurement process are described on the subpage Sustainability in the Procurement Process.

There are various social and environmental challenges in supply chains of product groups. The subpage Social and Environmental Challenges describes relevant issues along the supply chain for certain product groups which can be taken into consideration in a procurement process.

Pubilc procurement law provides the framework and scope of action for the application of sustainability criteria. The category Legal Framework lists the constituens of the EU directives as well as national and federal state level implementation. The Municipality Compass (see below) complements this with local level documents like council orders and instrutcions on municipal level.

2. The Sustainability Compass supports practical implementation:

Standards and labels can serve as a means of proof that works, services or supplies correspond to certain sustainability criteria. As sustainability labels are mushrooming, it has become more difficult to find trustworthy sustainability labels covering specific requirements. The Sustainability Standards Comparison Tool (SSCT) offers the possibility to analyse, compare and find labels corresponding to selected criteria and legal requirements, e.g. Art. 43 24/2014/EU. Furthermore, procurement officers can find ready-made text modules for tender documents and a list of potential suppliers.

Procurement operators in charge need to know which sustainability criteria they can integrate in public invitations to tender. The Municipality Compass offers best-practice examples of municipalities in Germany and provides comprehensive information on legal frameworks on German State Level. An interactive map provides quick and clear access to all examples.

Implementation partners

The Sustainability Compass is a cooperation project by Engagement Global gGmbH with its Service Agency Communities in One World and Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

We thank our external partners:

The revision of the content of the website in 2014 was supported by ICLEI European Secretariat GmbH. The Sustainability Standards Comparison Tool (SSCT) was developed in cooperation with ISEAL Alliance and the UN International Trade Center (ITC). Events on sustainable public procurement are displayed with the support of Kompetenzstelle für nachhaltige Beschaffung (KNB) of the German public procurement authority.

The technical implementation of this website is done by Talleux & Zöllner GbR.