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Assessing Trade & Environmental Effects of Ecolabels

Ecolabelling entered mainstream environmental policy-making in 1977, when the German government established the Blue Angel programme.

Since that time, ecolabels have become one of the more high-profile market-based tools for achieving environmental objectives.

Ecolabelling has also run into criticism from those who claim that it may, in some cases, operate as an unjustified non-tariff barrier to trade.

A report launched this week entitled: “The Trade and Environmental Effects of Ecolabels: Assessment and Response” reviews what is known about ecolabelling as an environmental policy tool and as a potential trade barrier. It focuses on five well-known ecolabelling programmes that incorporate environmental requirements: the Blue Angel programme in Germany, and the programmes associated with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International (FLO) and the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM).

The report’s ultimate aim is to identify specific issues and policy integration challenges that need to be addressed if ecolabels are to be designed and applied in ways that support sustainable development – balancing environmental, social and economic outcomes.

In the report it is demonstrated that considerable additional data collection and research needs to be undertaken if the effects of ecolabelling are to be understood and policy recommendations developed.




Further Resources

Trade and Environmental Effects of Ecolabels: Assessment and Response
Download full report (pdf)

Consumption & Production

Economics & Trade

UNEP Division of Technology, Industry, and Economics


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