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Highlight report - Consumer Information Global Conference 2023

  • Published on February 12, 2024

The Consumer Information Global Conference 2023: Ecolabel and Sustainable Public Procurement took place in Bogota, Colombia, on the 14th and 15th of November, 2023, and brought together 98 participants, 55 women and 43 men from 20 countries, representing Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Europe. They were professionals and experts in the field of ecolabelling and sustainable public procurement, representing governments (38% of the participants), international organizations (24%), the quality infrastructure sector (14%), the private sector (9%), civil society organizations (9%), and the academy (6%). 

The primary objective of the conference in bringing these experts together was to encourage discussions, share knowledge, facilitate exchanges of experiences, and identify ways to foster the use of ecolabels and sustainable public procurement as tools to address the triple planetary crisis — the crisis of climate change, the crisis of nature and biodiversity loss, and the crisis of pollution and waste —, and to scale up sustainable consumption and production towards achieving SDG 12 goals. The event also officially launched the EcoAdvance: Ecolabels and Sustainable Public Procurement project.

The conference program included 10 panel discussions, with 23 women and 25 men panelists. Policy frameworks on sustainable public procurement and the use of ecolabels were shared by government representatives from Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Germany. Good practices from China, Thailand, and Indonesia on using ecolabels criteria in sustainable public procurement were also presented as benchmarks for other countries. The need to develop public policies and assistance to include SMEs in ecolabels schemes, especially in Latin America (they are 99% of Latin America & Caribbean enterprises, 60% of the employed population and 25% of GDP), was a topic of discussion involving researchers from Colombia and Germany, government representatives from Ecuador, Costa Rica and Brazil, an association representing companies from Colombia, and an agricultural association representative from Ecuador. 

A session focused on the importance of developing a regional ecolabel scheme brought together experts from the quality infrastructure sectors from Colombia, Paraguay, and Africa, who could share lessons learned from the Eco Mark Africa experience, which can foster the development of the Environmental Alliance of America, the Latin America regional Type 1 ecolabel initiative, supported by the EcoAdvance project.

Another objective of the conference was to create opportunities for networking. Besides the usual spaces — coffee breaks, lunch time, and contact list shared — there was a specific session aimed to encourage participants to get to know each other through activities developed using the primary outputs of the Consumer Information Programme, under the One Planet Network. In total, 98% of the participants stated that the event has contributed to strengthening their professional networking (47% of women and 51% of men), 88% saw value in the in-person event, and 85% were interested in joining the Consumer Information Programme and/or the Public Procurement Programme of the One Planet Network.

On the final survey, the overall event evaluation was 4.65/5, with 98% of participants saying the conference improved their understanding of the role and potential of ecolabeling and sustainable public procurement.

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