Report: Type 1 Ecolabeling Capacity Building Workshop, 5-7 March 2012, Bangkok, Thailand

Group Photo of Participants

ABOUT THE PROJECT

The Asian Productivity Organization (APO), in partnership with United Nations Environment Programme, Division of Technology, and Industry and Economics (UNEP-DTIE) conducted a Capacity-building Workshop on Type 1 Ecolabeling. The activity was hosted by the administration of the Thailand Type I Ecolabeling Programme, Thailand Environment Institute (TEI) and hosted by the Global Ecolabeling Network (GEN), Thailand Productivity Institute (FTPI) and the UNEP Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.

This activity is to generally strengthen the Type 1 Ecolabeling schemes in the Asia-Pacific Region and involve a more diverse range of Asia-Pacific enterprises in the APO Eco-products Directory/Database through Type I Ecolabeling schemes. Another objective of this workshop is to foster sharing of experiences between mature Ecolabeling Programmes with emerging programs of developing countries. Participating countries are from the APO and UNEP member countries. The organizations are mostly non-profit organizations and government ministries or agencies administering a Type 1 Ecolabeling Programme, or ministries related to standards and quality.

OBJECTIVES FOR PARTICIPATION

The Philippine Center for Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development, Inc. (PCEPSDI) is the administrator of the Philippines’ Type I Ecolabelling Programme, the National Ecolabelling Programme-Green Choice Philippines (NELP-GCP). Launched in 2003, the program is a quasi-government program being administered by an NGO.

The program has developed 36 product criteria and awarded the seal to 35 product brands/model. In order to mainstream the Philippine’s ecolabeling program to consumers – be it the government, institutional, or the general public, the number of developed ecolabelling criteria and ecolabeled products need to be increased. One of the objectives of participating to this workshop was to gain knowledge on how to increase effectiveness of the program in terms of developing product criteria, processing applications and promoting the program to industry and consumers.

PROFILE OF PARTICIPANTS

The workshop was attended by thirty (30) participants from the APO member countries and UNEP member countries generally coming from ecolabeling programs, green purchasing networks, ministries on standards and quality. Attached to this report is the list of participants and experts who conducted the workshop.

SCOPE, CONTENT AND METHODOLOGY

The topics covered can be summarized as starting, sustaining and promoting a Type I Ecolabeling programme. The workshop format consists of lectures by resource persons, typically followed by an activity to visualize what was discussed or by group work and case studies. Ms. Liazzat Rabiosi of UNEP-DTIE first gave an introduction of ecolabels, its different types and its role in promoting sustainable consumption and production. This was followed by discussions on ISO 14020, the different features and guiding principles of ecolabels. Being practiced globally, the type I ecolabeling programmes formed a fellowship named the Global Ecolabeling Network (GEN) to support its members, promote sustainable consumption and production, foster cooperation among members, associates and other ecolabeling programs. GEN then formed their own ecolabel following a set of guidelines, the Global Ecolabeling Network’s Internationally Coordinated Ecolabeling System (GENICES). Mr. John Polak and Dr. Chaiyod Bunyagidj then had a series of intensive lectures on how to start, manage and operate an ecolabeling programme.

To further understand the science behind an ecolabeling programme, Ms. Nydia Suppen discussed Life cycle thinking and assessment through teleconference. This was further supported with discussion on how to maintain the quality of an ecolabeling programme with discussions on greenwashing, how different type I ecolabeling programmes were managed, its role in green procurement and green public procurement.

The last set of discussions was equally significant as the first two days. Ms. Rabbiosi presented the EU ecolabel and how it can be integrated with policy. European ecolabels have been mainstreamed in their policy as it was used as a benchmark or a standard for procurement. Though the ecolabel itself is not mandatory, compliance to the standard was mandatory for some products. Ecolabels were also included in school curricula and is part of the various concepts of consumer education, sustainable development or sustainable consumption. Teaching materials have been developed for primary and secondary schools to create basic knowledge on ecolabels and sustainable development. The EU has implemented numerous directives where ecolabels arean integral part of, and these were also included in Ms. Rabbiosi’s presentation. The last module was also of high importance as this is on marketing of the label. Dr. Martin Lichtl. Dr. Lichtl discussed means on how to develop a marketing framework for an ecolabel.

OUTCOMES AND EVALUATION

The workshop was designed with appropriate resource persons who are qualified to discuss and conduct the workshop. Since the Philippine ecolabel is already established, significant knowledge on how to strengthen the program is essential. The Philippine delegate’s objective in participating in the workshop was accomplished through the fulfillment of the activity objectives as follows:

Objective 1: Support the strengthening of the Type 1 ecolabeling schemes

The Philippine Ecolabelling Programme has always been practicing the principles and ISO 14024, and this workshop help to update and guide the local delegate of its details. Another significant module is how to market the label, be it for potential license holder or the general public to understand the label and purchase ecolabeled products.

Objective 2: Foster sharing of experiences between mature ecolabeling programmes with emerging programs of developing countries.

As the mature ecolabeling programmes presented, the following are the valuable observations:

a) Ecolabeling programmes are closely handled and 100% financially supported by the national government particularly if it is still in the developmental stage. Once mature, government financing only lessens but rarely without an allotted budget even the mature ecolabels in the European region.

b) In order to monitor compliance with ISO 14024 of ecolabeling programmes, GEN developed its own monitoring system or label, GENICES. The general direction of GEN members is to be part of the GENICES as they mature. It was raised by the PH delegate that the objectives of GEN is similar to that of GENICES, and in that perspective, GENICES may not be necessary at all and GEN as an organization can achieve the GENICES’ goals and objectives. Though it was raised, it may be inevitable but to go through GENICES in the future as this is the direction that GEN will pursue.

c) Ecolabeling program have strong support from government procurement units. In other terms, government with mature ecolabeling programs are implementing green public procurement. Germany uses the Blue Angel criteria for calling for bids. Green public procurement are also implemented in Sweden, Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea and others, all of which have what we may consider as mature ecolabeling programs.

d) Countries with mature ecolabels incorporate sustainable consumption and production, and introduction to ecolabels in school curricula.

e) Strong advertising and promotional campaign of the ecolabel. This includes an extensive media campaign, promotional materials, educational medium, and others. However, this is cost intensive action.

RECOMMENDATIONS AND ACTION STEPS

The workshop was designed to give the participants a good foundation on how to start, manage, and sustain a type 1 EcolabellingPprogramme. The participants were able to gain such knowledge through the conducted lectures coupled with a number of group works. As the workshop was concluded, the following are the necessary actions derived for the growth of the Philippine ecolabel:

1) A steady government financial support for the ecolabeling program.
2) Preparatory actions to undergo through the GENICES program.
3) Philippine government to implement green public procurement, prioritizing ecolabeled products and using the developed criteria for awarding bids.
4) Strengthen the environmental education of primary and secondary schools, including SCP and ecolabels.
5) Strengthen promotional activities of the label.
6) Foster strong relationship with license holders and integrating their initiatives to further promote the label.

SUBMITTED BY:

MAUREEN GRACE LEBRIA
Programme Manager, National Eco-Labeling Program-Green Choice Philippines (NELP-GCP)
Philippine Center for Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development Inc. (PCEPSDI)

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