New Programme to Strengthen Consumer Information for the Shift to Sustainable Consumption di, jul 1, 2014

Voluntary Sustainability Standards Among Key Tools for New Market Opportunities

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New York, 1 July 2014 - A new global programme, launched today, will harness the power of consumers, through better-informed buying decisions, to shift to a more resource-efficient world.

Providing accurate information to consumers about the environmental and social impacts of the products they consume is a vital element in making the shift to more sustainable consumption and production patterns.

The 10YFP Consumer Information Programme (CIP) - the second action to get under way as part of the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production (10YFP), mandated by the Rio+20 summit on sustainable development in 2012 - was launched today.

The CIP will be co-led by the Governments of Germany and Indonesia along with Consumers International, with the support of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which hosts the 10YFP Secretariat. The CIP will assist governments, standards organizations, businesses and NGOs in their efforts to provide clear, accurate and reliable information about a product's impact on the planet and its people.

The CIP will review existing information tools and systems, such as voluntary standards, ecolabels and marketing claims, with the aim of enhancing their effectiveness by harmonizing data and criteria. It will also explore new communication channels to reach consumers effectively.

Its goals are to:

1) Improve availability, accessibility and quality of consumer information to create a basis for the provision of credible information.

2) Drive change in government and business to ensure that the framework conditions are provided to support best practices in relation to consumer information.

3) Enhance communication to drive behavioural change and ensure the transition from being informed to taking action.

"Sustainable consumption and production is about doing more and better with less," said Achim Steiner, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UNEP. "But for consumers to be able to achieve that goal, they need to have confidence in the accuracy and verity of the information they are basing their decisions upon."

"The Consumer Information Programme of the 10YFP is a critical step towards this goal as it will better inform consumers around the world on choices which drive sustainable consumption. The programme draws in governments and businesses who are actually responsible for relevant policies, information tools and production processes, promoting multi-stakeholder cooperation in this drive for sustainable consumption."

Demand for sustainable goods and services is high and continues to rise - research indicates that the number of new ecolabels has increased each year since the 1990s, with about 400 existing ecolabels today. Yet consumers often remain unable to make an informed choice because the bases on which the sustainability information is developed are often not comparable. Surveys show that the proliferation of sustainability information tools has left consumers confused, resulting in a shift from interest to scepticism.

"More than 70 per cent of the greenhouse gases in the world are caused by household decisions. Reliable consumer information is key to enable consumers to make informed choices for purchasing sustainable products and services" said Barbara Hendricks, Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, Germany

Consumer information is equally important in developing and emerging economies. "With the rise of the middle class around the world - in particular in Asia where 66% of the global middle-class population will be by 2030 - embracing the resource efficiency challenge is an imperative. Quality information is crucial in this journey in which Indonesia has embarked," said Balthasar Kambuaya, the Minister of Environment, Indonesia

Choosing sustainable products can also result in substantial savings in material as well as in financial terms. However, consumers need clear information to guide them on these often complex issues, as they face an ever-increasing number of labels and standards, which convey widely differing and sometimes misleading information about products' impacts.

The CIP will be a global platform, raising awareness of relevant policies, strategies, projects and partnerships, and encouraging cooperation across products and sectors to harmonize and clarify sustainability information. It will look at products along their whole life cycles, from resource extraction to end-of-life disposal.

"Ensuring consumers have access to accurate, understandable and timely information is central to building environmental, social and economic sustainability. We look forward to working with partners to build on the great work that is already being done and launch new initiatives that empower consumers to play their part in the shift towards more sustainable patterns of consumption and production," said Justin Macmullan head of advocacy and campaigns at Consumers International.

For more information, contact:

Shereen Zorba, Head of News and Media, UNEP Division of Communication and Public Information, Tel. +254 788 526 000. Email: unepnewsdesk@unep.org

Moira O'Brien-Malone, Head, Communications, UNEP Division of Technology, Industry and Economics, Tel: + 33 1 44 37 76 12 or mobile +33 6 82 26 93 73. Email: moira.obrien-malone@unep.org

Notes to Editors:

For more information about the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production, please visit http://www.unep.org/10yfp/

About the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production (10YFP)

The 10YFP is a global framework for action that enhances international cooperation to develop, replicate and scale up sustainable consumption and production (SCP) and resource-efficiency initiatives around the world. It was established after Heads of State, meeting at the Rio+20 summit on sustainable development in 2012, agreed that SCP was a cornerstone of sustainable development, and an important contributor to poverty alleviation and the transition to low-carbon green economies. UNEP serves as the Secretariat of the 10YFP and administers its Trust Fund.

The CIP is the second programme to be launched under the 10YFP. The first, the Sustainable Public Procurement Programme, was launched in April. Programmes on sustainable lifestyles and education, sustainable buildings and construction, and sustainable tourism are expected to be launched this year.

About UNEP

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the voice for the environment in the UN system. Established in 1972, UNEP's mission is to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations. UNEP is an advocate, educator, catalyst and facilitator promoting the wise use of the planet's natural assets for sustainable development. It works with many partners, UN entities, international organizations, national governments, non-governmental organizations, business, industry, the media and civil society. UNEP's work involves providing support for: environmental assessment and reporting; legal and institutional strengthening and environmental policy development; sustainable use and management of natural resources; integration of economic development and environmental protection; and promoting public participation in environmental management.

About the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety

The German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) is responsible for a range of government policies which are reflected in the name of the Ministry itself. For more than 25 years the Ministry has worked to protect the public from environmental toxins and radiation and establish an intelligent and efficient use of raw materials; it has advanced climate action and promoted a use of natural resources that conserves biodiversity and secures habitats. Since December 2013 the BMUB is also tasked with creating the conditions for good housing standards and intact cities and with raising the quality of structural engineering, building technology and construction materials in Germany still higher. These are the cornerstones of high quality of life and a pleasant social climate.

About the Indonesia Ministry of Environment

Established in 1973, the Indonesia State Ministry of Environment (MOE) is responsible for national environmental policy and planning in the country. The MOE is guided by its vision for reliable and proactive institutional action for sustainable development and prosperity through the application of good environmental governance principles. Its goals include building partnerships for fair, efficient use of environmental resources and protecting communities through pollution and resource damage prevention. The Ministry coordinates policy implementation, provides technical guidance, and supervises environmental management of sectoral ministries and provincial environment authorities.

About Consumers International

Consumers International (CI) is the world federation of consumer groups that, working together with its members, serves as the only independent and authoritative global voice for consumers. With over 250 member organisations in 120 countries, CI and its member's organizations are building a powerful international movement to help protect and empower consumers everywhere. Founded in 1960, CI is fighting for a fair, safe and sustainable future for all consumers in a global marketplace increasingly dominated by international corporations. CI is a not-for-profit company registered in the UK.

 
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