India’s Government E-Marketplace: Technology for sustainable development
Governments worldwide spend up to 20% of their GDP on public procurement. Using this money efficiently is crucial for economic development, minimizing environmental impacts, and maximizing social outcomes. With an estimated GDP of $3.53 trillion, India's procurement spending or the process to purchase goods and services, is roughly $700 billion which provides an opportunity to support sustainable development.
Effective sustainable development supports the needs of the present without compromising future generations’ economic, social and environmental needs. Sustainable procurement is thus a process that incorporates development sustainability considerations throughout the purchasing of goods and services to achieve optimal Value for Money (VfM) in delivering positive development outcomes.
Government e-Marketplace (GeM) was set up in 2016 to help streamline procurement of commonly used items in a paperless cashless way with minimal human interface. In 2021-22, the platform's turnover gross merchandise value was around US$ 12.50 billion, and it is expected to double this year.
We share here some areas how technology is contributing to promoting sustainable procurement:
Other sustainable features that promote reuse, recycling, and green buying are the “Forward auction” which provides opportunities for government organizations to auction away fully depreciated and/or obsolete assets. The “buyback option” is presently available in 37+ product categories. Saving from these initiatives is yet to be sized, but the expected impact on circularity is enormous. Prime Minister Modi is leading on this. The World Bank-financed projects in India also benefited from the use of GeM , as it has become one of the major sources of commonly used items due to ease of access and smooth order fulfillment.
Going forward, GeM plans to increase its share of environment-friendly products and related services on its marketplace. It also aims to continue supporting MSE and Women suppliers to list their products and services on the platform. Thus GeM is not only streamlining procurement by eliminating cumbersome processes and promoting transparency, but also helping in sustainable development. This may thus be is a good role model to emulate for other countries.
Prashant Kumar Singh, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Government e Marketplace (GeM), Government of India
Shanker Lal, Lead Procurement Specialist