The Nordic ecolabel, the Swan, may soon fly south, all the way to South America. The Nordic Council of Ministers has just initiated a joint venture with the United Nations Environment Programme, where Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay may set up a new ecolabel inspired by the Nordic countries.
A workshop on regional cooperation on eco-labelling was held in Santiago de Chile 17-18 November 2011. The workshop gathered 70 participants from the so called Southern Cone region: Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. They represented ministries, standardization organisations, industry and trade, as well as environment and consumer NGOs.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) organised the workshop, which had a strong focus on the Nordic experiences and know-how in the field of ecolabelling and sustainable public procurement.
A regional ecolabelling approach is a cost-effective way of addressing the well documented needs of making production and consumption patterns more sustainable.
It does not only save time and resources to work on a regional rather than a national basis. It also enhances regional integration and cooperation within environmental, industrial and consumer policies. Linking ecolabelling closely with sustainable public procurement furthermore creates a stronger demand for ecolabelled products.
Cristóbal de la Maza, Head of Division from the Ministry of Environment in Chile, considers the Nordic experiences to be essential in developing sustainable consumption and production policies and tools in the Southern Cone region.
- It is the right political moment to address these issues: we put currently lots of efforts in promoting sustainable consumption and production in our countries. Learning how the Nordic countries have been successful in developing jointly as a region environmentally adapted production methods gives lots of inspiration and support for our future activities, de la Maza stated at the meeting.
The workshop participants agreed to initiative the initial steps to explore the possibilities for a regional ecolabel in the Southern Cone region. Focus will be on exchange of information, capacity building and training, as well as development of educational tools for awareness raising.
Titta Maja, Counsellor from the Embassy of Finland in Chile, participated in the workshop and welcomed the project initiative:
- The example of the Nordic countries on regional cooperation is very useful here in Latin America, where addressing the environmental and sustainable development questions is very topical. The Nordic Ecolabel, based on a regional approach, highlights the importance of sustainable development in everyday consumer choices and thus provides an excellent model for developing cooperation within the Southern Cone region, she said.
The project aims to develop a roadmap for establishing a regional ecolabelling programme for the Southern Cone region, in dialogue with the Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN).
Participant countries agreed to follow up on the workshop by broad national dialogues engaging all relevant stakeholder groups. The regional follow-up will be carried out in cooperation with the Nordic Council of Ministers and UNEP during 2012.
Guy Ladvocat, Systems certification manager from the Brazilian Association for Technical Standards, has collaborated with the Nordic ecolabel earlier and is eager to contribute to the regional cooperation.
- I would like ecolabelling to have a much stronger position in the Southern Cone region. Brazilian experiences with running the type 1 ecolabel Beija-Flor and participation in the Global Ecolabelling Network might be helpful for the future regional process.
Liazzat Rabbiosi, UNEP
Björn-Erik Lönn, Nordic Ecolabel