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Consumer Information online conference - TURNING INFORMATION INTO ACTION

  • Published on June 30, 2022
The objective of the conference is to raise business awareness on how to improve business communication strategy to encourage more sustainable consumption behaviour. 
The Consumer Information Programme for Sustainable Consumption and Production organized the online Conference "Turning information into action: Providing product sustainability information that changes consumption behavior" from the 13th to the 16th of September 2022.    
The Conference brought together representatives from the private sector, including industry associations, marketing agencies, and chambers of commerce, actively working in the communication and engagement with consumers and stakeholders. Governments, standard-setting and labeling organizations, research institutes, consumer NGOs, and other relevant stakeholders were also involved in the lively panels.   
During the Conference, experts discussed the existing communication tools, strategies, and barriers preventing businesses from providing product sustainability information.   
The Conference covered valuable insights from the E-commerce, Fashion, and Food sectors as well as crucial environmental priorities such as Biodiversity and Ecolabelling.   
Each session of the Conference provided a set of key takeaways that can assist stakeholders in identifying the following steps to improving business communication strategies to encourage more sustainable consumption.
Seizing the opportunity of sustainable consumption for business : How to communicate products' sustainability and change consumption behaviour? 
During the Keynote address Elisa Tonda, Chief of the Resources and Markets Branch at the UN Environment Programme, addressed the barriers consumers encounter when making their purchase choices. Elisa expressly issued a call to action to "radically change" our production circles toward a more Circular Economy approach. She also addressed the need for businesses to be willing to make that change. She also highlighted the need to create enabling conditions that allow all market players to be part of the needed production and consumption transformation.    
Furthermore, Helena Leurent- from Consumers International -led the session into an exciting exchange that included a reflection on green claims and their essential role as a marketing opportunity for companies to modify behavior, ultimately helping consumers make informed choices and respond to the consumer demand for sustainable products.   
The panelists also reflected upon the successful tools available in the thrive for Consumer Information: Labels, certifications, and recycled/recyclable packaging were among the most noticeable.   
Furthermore, the panel also concluded with the relevance of the active participation of Civil Society, the need to produce more green products, and transparent regulatory frameworks.  
Reaching consumers through credible eco-labelling 
During the Ecolabeling session, Kate Harris, the Global Ecolabeling Network Secretariat, explained the critical feature of Type I ecolabels as adequate protection against greenwashing and the importance of products being certified by a third party. An essential part of these labels is the Life Cycle approach that addresses multiple areas of the product's environmental impact.
How can e-commerce platforms empower the sustainable online consumer? 
The E-commerce session featured the innovations that e-commerce platforms can incorporate to drive consumer behavior towards sustainability and the vital verification role that these platforms can have. Amongst the more noticeable tools, search engines with sustainable options targeting consumer groups and "sustainability filters" were raised as particularly effective tools to drive change. 
Opportunities and challenges in leveraging product sustainability information to shape more sustainable food supply and demand. 
The experts discussed the practical Consumer Information tools influencing consumer demand in the Food Systems session. The WWF expert Joshua Bishop emphasized that food choices are responsive to retailers' arrangements. Retailers can nudge consumers to certain products by putting them on specific store points. Furthermore, Consumer Information tools can improve consumers' accuracy in selecting products that account for taste and different budgets. As a final note, the session concluded with the reflection that there is a need for agri-food businesses to step up their efforts to transition to more sustainable food systems. 
Building the business case for nature friendly consumption: how businesses scale up consumer information on biodiversity and ecosystem services and thrive.
The session was lead by adelphi, the leading independent think tank and public policy consultancy on climate, environment, and development. The session highlighted the impact of consumption on biodiversity. It addressed the need to meet the consumer interests & demands of younger generations and the institutional architectures needed to set the example. Simone Wulf from the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, Jan Christian Polanía Giese from adelphi, and other present experts addressed the fact that sustainability standards need to be enforced and that there is a need to keep raising awareness regarding the impact of consumption and production on biodiversity. Furthermore, it was mentioned that spaces for collaborative actions between policymakers, businesses, and civil society are scarce, although much needed.   
The session emphasized the businesses' role in achieving global biodiversity targets by addressing standards and engaging with societal norms. One of the main conclusions of the session was the need for good practices and references from the private sector to inspire and promote other producers and retailers to better communicate on biodiversity.
The role of product sustainability information to engage consumers and businesses on product lifetime extension.
Throughout the fashion session, the panelists discussed the need for a cultural redefinition to challenge the stigma of "used clothes" and the urgency for new businesses to consider sustainability in the design stage and to engage with lifetime extension to reduce overall consumption.   
The Akatu Institute for conscious Consumption and Sustainability guided the session in which the experts addressed the critical opportunities in implementing product lifetime extension best practices. The panelists agreed that Product Lifetime Extension is fundamental to the second-hand circuit's circular-textile value chain. The session concludes with the reflection that the sector must strive to incentivize consumers to repurpose and recycle textiles actively and to become more active in the linear economy. 



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