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Creating sustainable squares

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Are you interested in creating squares in a sustainable way? On Monday 9 December 2013, ‘Duurzame Pleinen’ (Sustainable Squares) is organising an informative meeting (in Dutch language) focused on both the environmental and humanitarian aspects of designing a square. Duurzame Pleinen is an initiative by SOMO and consultancy firms CREM and Human Rights@Work.

The Duurzame Pleinen project started in 2011 with the goal to challenge three municipalities in the Netherlands to develop a square with maximum sustainability. With the conclusion of the project soon approaching, it has resulted in a wealth of knowledge and experiences; information which we would love to share with you and everyone involved in the (re)development of (new) squares. This includes administrators, politicians, architects, project leaders, policy makers and public purchasing agents from throughout the Netherlands.

Global effects

The concept of the initiators of the Duurzame Pleinen project is to not only look at the effects on people and the environment on and around the square, but also at possible effects outside of the Netherlands as a result of the procurement of the required materials. Have you decided to use recycled steel for the benches? And how can you ensure you did not destroy primeval forests for the wood for fencing?

Social aspects

The meeting will also zoom in on social aspects in the supply chain of materials. ‘Stop Kinderarbeid’ (Stop Child Labour) will discuss how you can make sure that the natural stone you purchase is child-labour free. The meeting will feature various people involved in government procurement; from alderman to purchaser and researchers who have studied wrongdoings in the chain.

Sustainable procurement

SOMO feels that sustainable procurement plays a large part in increasing the sustainability of the chain, and that it is the government’s duty to protect human rights in its policies. Wrongdoings in the chain can be amended through sustainable procurement when governments make social demands to suppliers; for example with regard to the conditions in which products are developed, efforts to prevent wrongdoings, and the level of transparency with regard to these efforts. Purchasers in the public sector (such as municipalities) can utilise the expertise of SOMO’s research into sectors and the application of social conditions. SOMO knows exactly which questions critical purchasers should ask.

What is sustainable?

It is important to monitor sustainable aspects during the entire process. This means during the development, procurement, construction, usage and management of the square. For more information read the Duurzame Pleinen Wijzer (only in Dutch).


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