Agenda for the meeting included discussions about the past year in the project, what happened in the interregional partner meeting in Spain in May and what are the next steps for Kymenlaakso in the project. In addition, we heard presentations from two of our stakeholders: Ms Marita Melkko, a procurement agent in Kouvola Innovation offering procurement services for the City of Kouvola and entrepreneurs in Kouvola region, and Ms Anu Kuusela, the CEO of Kotkan Julkiset Kiinteistöt Ltd. who attended the interregional event in Spain.  


Earlier last year we conducted a questionnaire for the Kymenlaakso’s stakeholders where we requested them to describe their expectations towards the project. Presenting the procurement agent service was one of the things that the regional stakeholders pinpointed.  

Marita’s extensive presentation covered multiple points. The procurement agent service has received excellent feedback from both the entrepreneurs and the City officials and leaders. For improving procurements’ foreseeability and influence, and for enabling the involvement of local suppliers in tendering, market consultation and dialogue are concrete ways of bringing the procurers and suppliers together to discuss about the upcoming procurements. Development of procurements is based on to strategies and in Kouvola, the City Strategy and Procurement Programme mandate this. The City of Kouvola has also set up specific Procurement Forum and Procurement Co-creation Group where the city leaders, officials, contracting entities and procurement agent are present. However, in order to systematically take into consideration the environmental and life cycle impacts of the procurements in the planning stage, in tender documents and during the contract period, the procurement expertise needs to be further strengthened and updated. In public procurement sector, from the eyes of view of supplier, markets are procurer-based as criteria or requirements in the call for tender “guide” the type of products and services offered. For promoting circular economy by public procurements, it is essential to try to have an impact on this procurer-based approach, that is, procurers’ motivation and commitment to make sustainable purchases. The procurement agent service can be of great help in both providing knowledge and helping in drawing the tendering documents.    

The partner meeting and study visit in Seville and how that served the project’s goal on exchanging experience and learning from one another was also discussed. Our local stakeholder, Anu Kuusela, who attended the event, told us her viewpoints. Anu was impressed by the strong will and dedication from both of the project partners and of the management of the visited Virgen del Rocío hospital, to develop the circular economy and procurement practices. Even if the hospital’s commitment to EMAS and the whole hospital complex with its waste management practices offered good learning opportunities per se, people’s commitment together with ability and willingness to make changes heterogeneous starting points aside from, were Anu’s choice of lessons to learn from. These are important features when the legal and policy frameworks get more ambitious and require faster and more efficient activities. In Kymenlaakso, we should thus take actions upfront and not wait for the mandatory regulations. Anu recommended that our local stakeholders would make use of this opportunity for networking and reciprocal learning. The forthcoming interregional event in Portugal in October on demolition and building waste was already promoted to Kymenlaakso’s stakeholders.  

The first year of the project and what the progress has been in Kymenlaakso have been that of anticipated. Circular procurements as a strategic tool for supporting circular economy and vitality of the region has been brought up in different occasions, such as in workshops for developing “Carbon Neutral Kymenlaakso 2040” roadmap and “Environment 2030 – Kouvola’s Environmental Goals” programme. Kymenlaakso’s RIS3 strategy, which is the CircPro-related policy instrument addressed by the Kouvola Innovation, will go under update starting from this fall and influencing in this will be one of the main activities during this period. Another focal point will be to identify Kymenlaakso region’s good practices on circular procurement. In this, we asked our local stakeholders to provide information of the good practices and we already received a couple of good ones to be submitted to the system once we receive the necessary details.

As a whole, the second stakeholder meeting went very well. We have a motivated and inspired group of stakeholders with whom we can start to plan the activities for making Kymenlaakso a region where circular procurements are actively used as one of the tools for supporting region’s commercial and business life conditions, and for responding to the low-carbon and tightening material and energy efficiency goals.