- Asia / Pacific
- Europe and Central Asia
- Latin America / Caribbean
- Middle East
- North America
Sector of activity
Type of initiative
Capacity Building & Implementation, Education & Awareness Raising, Policy Frameworks & Tools
Type of lead actor
United Nations / intergovernmental organizations
Sustainable goods and services are a growing business opportunity and significant efforts are already underway in this area. Yet, a key challenge is the provision of clear and reliable sustainability product information to consumers. The importance of providing reliable information has been internationally recognized by the Sustainable Development Goals through target 12.8 and is also the focus of the One Planet Network’s Consumer Information Programme (CI-SCP). It has also been recently reinforced by member states during the fourth United Nations Environment Assembly (Sustainable Consumption and Production Resolution and Ministerial Declaration).
To strengthen good practices and build international understanding and consensus in this field, the working group developed the Guidelines for Providing Product Sustainability Information (launched in 2017). After two years of research and collaboration, with inputs from over 125 organizations, the Guidelines aim to benefit both the consumer and the producer by outlining how companies can provide quality information to empower sustainable consumption decisions, and also serving as a reference for governments, standard and labelling bodies and NGOs. In 2018, the Guidelines were tested by 28 private sector organizations (companies and standard-setters), including both SMEs and multinational companies, representing 12 industry sectors, from all world regions. The report 'Ready to Drive the Market', as well as individual case studies have been published following this exercise. All materials, and links to other relevant initiatives of working group members and beyond, are available on the Product Sustainability Information Hub, linked below.
As of 2019, the working group is focusing on bringing the Guidelines forward as a practical tool that contributes to the implementation of SDG 12 in an effective way. This will involve three key objectives: encouraging more organizations to align their product sustainability communications with the Guidelines; building a permanent community of practice on product sustainability information by enhancing collaborations and creating synergies with local organizations for replication; and involving governments so that the Guidelines ultimately become a base for national legislation (especially around SDG 12.8).
The activities are organized into three main categories: raise attention (dissemination and outreach), build capacity (teach and explain), and apply & guide:
Raise Attention – Dissemination & Outreach
- Identify country or sector priorities and disseminate information at country /regional level, e.g. through webinars and workshops.
- Disseminate the Guidelines and related materials via different communication channels such as websites, newsletters , scientific journals, LinkedIn, twitter, videos and events
- Maintain the ‘Product Sustainability Information Hub’ on the One Planet network website
Build Capacity – Teach & Explain
- Create an online self-assessment tool based on the Guidelines to offer an opportunity for organizations to self-assess and improve the way they are communicating with consumers about product sustainability
- Integrate the Guidelines in online courses/ e-learnings
- Organize face-to-face meetings and workshops with national focal points and local partners
- Encourage use of the Train of Trainers Toolkit as a way of replicating the ‘Communicating Product Sustainability’ workshops across the world
- Approach universities and research institutes to include the Guidelines in academic courses, particularly targeting departments with a focus on marketing and communication approaches
- Approach professional marketing institutes to integrate the Guidelines in their trainings
Apply & Guide
- Continue promoting good practices from various sectors, regions and information tools collected through the road testing, as well as continue the dialogue and learning
- Provide technical assistance to companies in applying the Guidelines
- Develop sector-specific training materials (e.g. PPT slides) that can be used for implementation of the Guidelines. These materials will not be a new set of guidelines or a report but rather practical materials
- Organize international conferences and events on product sustainably information
- Strengthen the work with governments around application of the Guidelines through development of joint communication campaigns, as well as engaging marketing surveillance authorities
- Map initiatives (legal and regulatory measures) that aim to regulate or guide green claims at regional, national or sub-national levels, and build a narrative on how the Guidelines link to other processes and instruments
Impact and Results
The Guidelines were published in 2017 and have received international recognition by UN member states in resolutions of the third and fourth United Nations Environment Assembly. As of March 2019, they have been downloaded over 1,800 times, and are by far the most accessed resource on the One Planet network website. 10 workshops in various world regions were held to date, building capacity and raising awareness of policy makers, companies and NGOs on the 10 principles of the Guidelines, and they were featured in 8 conferences. A number of these were done in collaboration with other One Planet network programmes, for instance SLE and SFS. The Guidelines have been road tested by 28 organizations from all world regions, and case studies from this exercise are being published on the Product Sustainability Information Hub. The latter collects all relevant materials around the Guidelines and the topic, serving as a one stop web source. A training of trainers on how to conduct workshops around the Guidelines and an online self-assessment tool are also available. Various projects of working group members are helping countries and/or stakeholder groups to apply the Guidelines in their national context and/or sector.
Next steps and how to get involved
The working group is holding quarterly webinars and working group members are supporting the implementation of the activities mentioned and reviewing progress achieved. If you have an questions or would like to get involved please do not hesitate to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.