Archive for the 'eco-labels' Category

New Publication: “Redefining ecolabels to improve sustainability and trade in developing countries: Lessons learned and recommendations from a UNEP project”

cover page of Redefining ecolabels to improve sustainability and trade in developing countries--Lessons learned and recommendations from a UNEP project

In 2012, at the invitation of the United Nations Development Programme (UNEP)  Sustainable Consumption and Production branch, I had the pleasure of interviewing and working with dozens of stakeholders from over a dozen countries to explore how ecolabels are encouraging sustainable development and improving international trade opportunities. The report “Redefining ecolabels to improve sustainability and trade in developing countries: Lessons learned and recommendations from a UNEP project” explores both the history and background of ecolabelling as a tool to promote sustainable production and consumption and to evaluate a specific five-year UNEP project.

You can download the report here on the new (and very informative) Sustainable Production and Consumption Clearinghouse.

More about this report from the introduction:

This report aims to evaluate to what extent the project succeeded in reaching its intended goals, to draw lessons learned, and present recommendations for future actions. The report contains four major sections. Section I introduces readers to ecolabels and the differences between different information systems, provides an overview of how these systems are used in developed and developing countries as well as introduces the major challenges, opportunities, and debates around voluntary labelling and standards globally.

Section I also traces the debates about ecolabels as possible barriers to trade. This includes possible implications of recent World Trade Organization cases and other issues affecting the discussions on Technical Barriers to Trade, and the relevance of this UNEP project to the debates, including the importance of working with established rules, practices, and disciplines that avoid unnecessary barriers in developing and using internationally-accepted ecolabels.

Section II introduces the UNEP ‘Enabling developing countries to seize ecolabelling opportunities’ project and partners, and the assessment methodology.

Section III of this report focuses on the assessment of the project results in relation to its goals. This section is based on interviews with key stakeholders in the project, as well as background research. It reviews the project as a whole, including a sector and country analysis. It describes the baseline situations and major developments that happened during the five years of the project.

Section IV provides lessons learned and recommendations to project partners and other stakeholders on further improvement and future projects. Suggestions are targeted toward all stakeholders involved in the ecolabelling field.

The report’s methodology is based on the compilation and review of all project documents and relevant literature on trade and ecolabels. It also involved interviews with participants from the project, including funders, implementing bodies, country partners, and some target enterprises when available.

Time-lapse video of rainforest destruction: Buying Products conforming to Credible Standards Helps Stop Rainforest Destruction

I don’t usually post media like this on my blog, but this video from my colleagues at Rainforest Alliance is too powerful to be ignored. Credible sustainability standards and labels with third party certification help you know what you’re buying so you can be assured the products you buy are not harming the people or the ecology.

Fight deforestation, fight climate change. from Rainforest Alliance on Vimeo.

Video taken from the Rainforest Alliance website. See the accompanying article here.

Bad eco-labels are just another form of greenwashing…

I really enjoy GoodGuide and the GoodGuide blog, to which I have long subscribed and read.

I just posted a comment to GoodGuide’s blog on a post about how they are using eco-labels (sustainability standards) to help GoodGuide users differentiate real sustainability claims from greenwashing. This is a great development and could be really helpful, except that there are just too many eco-labels and they are too hard to tell apart!

I’ve reposted my comment here, or you can skip to the GoodGuide Blog post to read it there.

Bad eco-labels are just another form of greenwashing…

GoodGuide’s focus on eco-labels is an outstanding development. Congratulations on the move!

What’s missing for most consumers is a simple and systematic way of differentiating between labels, which is where I hope GoodGuide can someday soon fill a gap. As an example, take FSC and SFI, two of North America’s largest forestry certification schemes. Studies consistently point out that FSC has better impacts on the ground. FSC’s strengths in auditing, stakeholder engagement, and –often crucially — chain-of-custody management (how certified product is kept track of), make it a different class of standard entirely. SFI is often described as simply “turnkey” certification for the forestry industry: ie, greenwashing by another name.

Continue reading ‘Bad eco-labels are just another form of greenwashing…’