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Concord and Cooperation GEN Chair Robin Taylor As another year closes and we at GEN celebrate our 20th Anniversary in 2014, it is interesting to reect upon how things have changed in the time I have been involved in ecolabelling. This evolution of GEN was strikingly apparent when we met for our last AGM in Brussels, the political centre of Europe, as guests of the Director General (Environment) of the European Union. The level of attention and welcome accorded delegates, and your Board, by internationally high-ranking gures in government, environment and ecolabelling made a statement about the stature and respect reached by our global organisation.

We have a peer review process – GENICES – which has been embraced by almost all our members – this was internally developed – by experts, for experts. Many governments in both East and West are using ecolabels as part of their procurement policies, and it is a source of pride that we have all had a part in this development. Most, if not all of our programmes, are still growing despite, in many cases, very limited resources – I nd that very exciting, particularly as there has never been a more critical time for us all to work together, with increasing fervour, in reducing environmental impacts.

I would venture to suggest that it is harmony and cooperation that have built up this platform of respect, in addition to our combined expertise and knowledge which was keenly sought. The opportunity to gather in such an inuential setting, as we are about to achieve a 20-year milestone, naturally leads us to consider and appreciate all those whose conviction and imagination started this journey. Few of the 'veterans' remain - I believe six present members were part of the original group. Now we have grown to 28 members, representing well over 50 diverse countries.

Remembering we are a network of diversely established and managed organisations, across a wide range of political and cultural landscapes, I am constantly humbled to see just how harmoniously we are able to work together – helping each other wherever possible. Ongoing collaboration and courtesy will continue to serve us well in cementing relationships and growing into the future.

Ecolabelling has moved a long way from those early beginnings; where we were once regarded by the WTO as a barrier to trade, UNEP is now offering training packages to encourage the use of ecolabels [Type1] as an aid to Sustainable Public Procurement.

I would like to thank the Board for their hard work again this year – all are volunteers and give of their time willingly. The general affairs and secretariat ofces have been our administrative backbone for another positive year, and also deserve our appreciation.




Two decades of trust Building a better world The Global Ecolabelling Network is a non-prot association of Type 1 ecolabelling organisations around the world. We believe that truly and demonstrably 'greener' products are an integral component to the broader sustainability movement and know that our members encourage environmentally better products and services through the stringent environmental criteria demanded by their published standards. Since its inception in 1994, the reach of the GEN has continued to expand and gather inuence and prole internationally. With 28 members and associate members representing some 57 countries (2014 gure), the GEN works tenaciously to improve, promote and develop the ecolabelling of products and services on a global scale. While the GEN does not actually develop its own criteria or certify products, we support all members and their respective

programmes as they undertake the development of environmental leadership standards, and the ecolabelling of products and services. Over two decades of trust, we have worked towards international cooperation, recognition and harmonisation of ecolabelling standards; we share knowledge, and build and sustain a global network of authoritative environmental labelling practitioners. Special attention has been paid to assisting developing nations keen to authenticate and advance their sustainability.


GEN promotes and lifts Type 1 ecolabels above the plethora of unsubstantiated green claims and, in doing so, we empower consumers, professional purchasers and industry to make informed purchasing decisions, providing them with sciencebased, accurate and transparent information about the environmental attributes of a product or service.


A worldwide resource For our time and beyond With 26 members, and two associate members,

“Type 1” ecolabelling programmes develop their

representing 57 countries and territories across

standards in an open, public, transparent

the globe, the collective expertise of the Global

process. Criteria and product category differ

Ecolabelling Network is unparalleled. Many of

among the membership, reecting local and

the ecolabelling programs operated by our

regional variables, but all standards address

members have existed for over 20 years.

multiple environmental attributes and most have requirements for items such as toxicity, air

GEN members mainly operate transparent “Type

quality, energy use, recyclability, VOCs,

1” ecolabelling programmes that rely on experts

carcinogens and other issues of concern. Life

and stakeholder groups to inform the

cycle thinking is used by our members in

development of stringent environmental criteria,

developing standards which minimise

and often commission independent (third-party)

environmental impacts across the entire life

auditors to determine whether a product meets

cycle of a product or service, from raw material

these stringent criteria. You can trust that a

extraction through to use and eventual disposal

product bearing the mark of one of our members

or breakdown.

provides genuine environmental benets.

While membership is intended only for Type 1

GEN’s endeavours in 2014, and beyond, are to

ecolabelling organisations, associate status can

help government ofcials, retailers and

be granted to organisations that formally support

consumers understand that not all environmental

ecolabelling principles and goals, but which are

labels are created equal, and that it is important

not actually ecolabelling practitioners. The GEN

to understand what a standard requires, who

currently has two Associate Members: ISEAL and

developed the standard, what process was used

the International Green Purchasing Network.

to develop it, and how a product is veried as actually having met requirements.



The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) has identied three broad types of voluntary labels. The most robust, holistic category is referred to as “Type 1” and it has a unique combination of strengths.

Type 1 ecolabelling programmes Ÿ are voluntary Ÿ their standards address multiple

environmental criteria Ÿ they consider the entire life cycle of the

product or service Ÿ they are transparent in their standards

development process Ÿ they rely on independent verication

Type 1 ecolabels clearly identify products representing environmental leadership, rescuing consumers from having to interpret vague and often confusing environmental claims, or compare highly scientic data, to determine environmental preferability of one product over another.




A world-class programme November 2013 began with a cold and blustery winter week in Brussels, as GEN members gathered from every corner of the globe at the Crowne Plaza le Palace hotel, an efcient and well-presented venue, for their annual conference and AGM. The ofcial host was the European Union DirectorateGeneral for Environment; the opening theme was challenges to greening markets through ecolabels.



On 5 November, the directorate's Mr Pavel Misiga welcomed delegates before an opening speech from Commissioner Janez Potočnik. He reminded the meeting of consumer research that proves climate change consciousness, and a desire for true “eco-products”. Commissioner Potočnik lamented the proliferation of greenwash and reiterated the importance of the “Type 1” ecolabel. Half of Europe's 500 million consumers do not trust environmental claims, he reported, and blamed self-declared claims for causing confusion in a third of consumers. He suggested the conference might have input toward the revision of the EU ecolabel in 2015. “As the world's largest consumer, the EU is an excellent place to make a difference,” he said.



AGM GEN chair Robin Taylor called for greater international collaboration in ecolabelling and explained the differences in the three ISO-defined ecolabel types, an issue that was further explored in workshops during the week. He also outlined the achievements and work faced by GEN. There is Type 1 ecolabelling in all corners of the world, said Mr Taylor, and throughout 57 countries and 20,000 companies there are 132,000 GEN products certified (2013). All Ecolabels are not created equal, he reminded. There are over 400 green labels on the current market, however there is a lot of “greenwashing” that must be considered.

New Zealand ambassador to the EU, H.E. Vangelis Vitalis, with Robin Taylor

Robin Taylor listed the challenges as:


Governmental programmes in developing economies are not necessarily geared towards ecolabelling


Engaging procurement professionals within this effort is not evident


We must find an efficient way to enhance collaboration between programmes


The profile of GEN must be raised







Asia GEN treasurer Mr Osamu Uno outlined the progress of China, Korea, and Japan's mutual recognition agreements on ecolabels since their agreement to work collaboratively in 2005.

Chinese Taipei Mr Chin-Yuan Chen stated the label's first MRA was with Canada. The Chinese Taipei EDF ecolabel agency undertakes verifications for their Green Mark licensees who apply for foreign ecolabels. Mr Chen said the GENICES process is the most efficient way of establishing mutual trust between ecolabel agencies. He presented a graphic illustrating the network of MRAs from his label's perspective.

Africa The level of certifications and available products is still low, although there is quite a large number of sector specific labels. There is support from the United Nations Environment Programme, Germany’s BMU and GIZ organisations and the Swedish agency SIDA, but SMEs (small/medium enterprises) shoulder the burden - with difficulty. For these reasons, Africa needs support for marketing, capacity building, networking, data research and management in order to successfully build Eco Mark Africa, says Ms Kalui.


9 8

Ms Christine Kalui


United States Board member Angela Griffiths (Ecologo USA) affirmed the importance of mobile devices as better eco-educated consumers seek more information on product sustainability credentials. The USA government spends over $350b annually on mostly environmentally preferable products and services. She said that 71 percent of retailers market sustainability as part of their brand image, and also introduced the expansion of EPEAT, a greener computer guide.

South America Board member Guy Ladvocat (ABNT Brazil) introduced the UNEP Project on Sustainable Public Procurement and Ecolabelling (SPPEL). The objective of this project is to provide capacity building for ecolabelling, provide technical assistance to public and private sectors on development, and to stimulate the demand and supply of sustainable products in the Southern Cone region of South America. There are 49 environmental labels in the region, he said, but ABNT is the only Type 1 ecolabel.



AGM Featured Presentations The Beguinage, Bruges.

After a full conference opening day, 6 November was a familiarisation day where delegates were taken by coach to the nearby World Heritage town of Bruges (Brugge) fostering informal discussions and networking. This was followed on 7 and 8 November by a full programme of presentations, workshops and the formal AGM. During this, a sub-committee was established to review the GEN bylaws.

A presentation by Ms Mizue Sekine of the Japan Ministry of the Environment outlined her country's Green Contract law and environmental policy.

Ms Susanne Heutling from Germany's Blue Angel reported on climate impact studies involving 60 household and office products, which culminated in 44 product groups being created for criteria development. Several months after the project launch, 37 of the criteria had no licence holders. “A bird with one wing cannot fly,” Ms Heutling commented. “Without marketing communications the wing of technology and standards cannot fly.” So The Blue Angel was galvanised to undertake fair and convention presentations, to develop material for schools, involve celebrities in marketing and advertising campaigns, sponsor awards, and achieve magazine

Susanne Heutling receives the GENICES

exposure by creating artistic and celebrity

certificate for the Blue Angel.

advertisements that were so well conceived they were placed free. The campaign was launched and championed by the German Environment Minister.



AGM The AGM and conference week was concluded by Michele Galatola (right). Picking up from Ms Heutling's example he ventured that science-based criteria that are developed as a political decision have limited value. The EU label has 31 product groups, he informed, but is now slowing down development through staff reduction and economic restrictions. Only two out of a long

He also spoke on materiality, essentially the

list of task forces have started due to a lack of

relevance and effect of matters addressed by

resources. “We have a portfolio which is too broad.

standards. “Once I have a tool that addresses the

Criteria with no licensees are probably a waste of

major objectives, then we can look to others. I

money,” he observed. Reducing the cost to SMEs for

have the impression that in ecolabelling we started

assessment in 2009 did not result in increased

backwards. We should ask why for so many product

licensed products, he reported.

groups we have so few licences – or no licences.”

Mr Galatola also acknowledged that it takes the EU

He suggested the review process of 2015 could

18 to 20 months to review a specification “which is

result in an entirely new ecolabel for Europe.

too much. Best-in-class is not the way to move

“We have to focus on what really matters for the

ecolabels forward,” he told the meeting.


Telling our stories as a nesting ground for GEN members to share

GEN Communications Advisor

their thoughts on the GEN Forum.”

Michael Hooper explored methodology for overcoming one of GEN's main challenges, explains

On the second day Michael Hooper gave tips for

the secretariat, that of communicating across

reaching beyond GEN, to share stories with the

cultures. When identifying solutions on how to

world. His presentations included real samples of

spread sustainability, he transmitted the idea that

“the world's best chocolate”, the history of

environmental triggers are all around us, whether

Brussels, clips from a pop cabaret and a vintage

they be set off by purchasing an ecolabelled

television show, live computer internet sessions,

product, or by noticing a habitat change nearby

workshop breakouts and an international stadium

caused by our unstable environment.

anthem performance.

“Mr. Hooper recommends communicating one's solutions to overcoming the challenges of greening markets via ecolabels through the act of storytelling and promoting internal conversations on this topic, like those that take place when GEN members meet,” reported secretariat manager Katherine Larocque. “The GEN website furthermore aims at evoking its purpose of improving, promoting, and developing ecolabelling through its visual identity and furthermore serves



GENICES – by experts

for experts

Chair Robin Taylor is encouraging members to submit to a GENICES reassessment at least every five years. “It should be viewed the same as a specification review, where it is important to maintain and update standards,” says Robin. He also reports that over 65 percent of members have completed the GENICES process. “This is a very pleasing situation to report as we enter our third decade.” The full list of members with GENICES certification is currently:

Canada New Zealand Czech Republic USA Chinese Taipei Thailand

Environmental Choice New Zealand Czech Ecolabelling Agency Green Seal Environment and Development Foundation Thailand Environment Institute


Living Planet



Nordic countries Russia Hong Kong Korea Singapore

Nordic Swan St. Petersburg Ecological Union Green Council Korea Environmental Industry and Technology Institute Singapore Environment Council


Standards Institute of Israel


Japan Environment Association


China Environmental United Certication Centre China Quality Certification Centre ABNT Blue Angel

Brazil Germany







ROBIN TAYLOR Chair Robin Taylor joined the GEN Board in 2003. He is general manager of the New Zealand government-owned ecolabel which is overseen independently by the notfor-profit NZ Ecolabelling Trust. Robin has a background in brand supervision and marketing strategy with multinational companies. In 2008 he was elected Chair of GEN and over the last six years has encouraged the streamlining, development and contemporary character of the organisation.


Angela is director of research and advisory services at UL Environment in Vancouver, and has a PhD in Resource Management and Environmental Studies. She has technical expertise in sustainability planning, cumulative environmental effects assessment, climate change, solid waste management, and energy and water use efficiency.

Hans-Hermann is a chemist by profession and completed his thesis at Humboldt University of Berlin 1984. In 1991 he began his career as a scientist at the Federal Environment Agency in Germany and has since been working in the product assessment. Since 2005 he has been head of the section “Eco-design Ecolabelling and Green Public Procurement at the German Federal Environment Agency which runs the Blue Angel Ecolabel.



Bjorn-Erik has been general manager of the Nordic ECO labelling prorgamme since 1993, and holds an M.Sc. from the University of Helsinki in fish toxicology. He was previously the general secretary for a sports fishermen's Association in Finland and then senior engineer at Norway's biggest sewage treatment plant.

Guy is systems certification manager of ABNT Brazil, where he also coordinates a greenhouse gas management project for small and medium companies. With a degree in mechanical engineering, he has 27 years experience in quality management and auditing, and for five years was project manager of the Brazilian Institute of Nuclear Quality.

EVA EIDERSTROM Eva is currently head of the department of “Shop and Act Green – Good Environmental Choice Ecolabel” in Sweden. This organisation is part of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation. 14

XIAODAN ZHANG Xiaodan is a Research Fellow in environmental protection. She is Director-General of the China Environmental United Certification Centre, a third-party certification body with responsibility for China's environmental labelling. Xiaodan graduated from Wuhan University of Technology in 1982 and was previously Deputy DirectorGeneral of the China National Accreditation Centre for Environmental Conformity Assessment.


28 members Country

Ecolabelling programme

Number of standards

Certied products/services


Good Environmental Choice Australia




ABNT Environmental Quality








China Environmental Labelling (CEC)




Environmentally friendly certication




Hong Kong Green Label




Hong Kong Eco-labelling

Chinese Taipei

Green Mark



Czech Republic

National Program Environmental label




The Blue Angel




Ekolabel Indonesia




Israeli Green Label




Eco Mark Program






57 countries Country

Ecolabelling programme



Number of standards

Certied products/services

Korea Eco-Labelling Program




SIRIM Eco-Labelling Scheme



New Zealand

Environmental Choice New Zealand




Green Choice Philippines




Vitality Leaf




Singapore Green Labelling Scheme




Good Environmental Choice




TCO Certied




Thai Green Label Scheme


Program for Ecologial Marking




Green Seal



European Union Countries

EU Ecolabel



Nordic Countries

Nordic Swan





FINANCIAL REPORT During the nancial year (to 31 December 2013),

In a tenuous world nancial climate, the year has

overall revenues declined due to reduction in

again been one of seless voluntary contribution,

membership fee payments, the principal source of

value building, and of generous engagement by

income for the organisation. This was slightly

board members and their organisations. The board

offset by an increase in donations.

especially wishes to thank the German government for its donation.

Results were also affected by realistic write-offs for bad debts, and adjustments following

The end-of-year asset position of GEN remains

reconciliation of gures with previous years.

strong, with assets at their second highest level in the history of the organisation.

Efforts were made to create a more modern webbased interaction between members as part of

Overall, the board is satised that the

continuing development of the GEN on-line

organisation remains in a positive and sound

presence. That system has now been


implemented. Total re-design and increased frequency and promptness of publications (principally GEN news and the annual report) were achieved through an investment in adoption of internet-based publishing. This reduces print and paper waste, and also minimises the cost and resource use incurred through physical document distribution. Personnel costs increased, but there is otherwise consistency by comparison with the previous year. The nancial data were approved by the independent committee set up by the AGM – this consisted of Benny Braun of The Standards Institution of Israel and Lisbeth Engel Hansen of Ecolabelling Denmark. The board of directors thanks them for their inspection and approval of the nancial report provided by the treasurer, which is summarised on the following page.



FINANCIAL SUMMARY 2013 Statement of Operations and Changes in Net Assets The Global Ecolabelling Network For the year ended December 31, 2013

Revenues (in USD)




129,878 13,067 96 571

$139,124 10,205 88 1,279

$151,634 10,821 83 1,100




68,000 22,080 12,795 14,224 2,490 3,215 21,777 13,895 158,476 (7,834)

$48,000 3,016 15,000 15,475 2,266 2,337 15,000 20,370 $121,464 (2,000)

$50,980 1,851 17,126 2,557 2,200 1,927 10,000 $86,641

($22,698) $240,195 $217,497

$27,232 $212,963 $240,195

$74,997 $135,966 $212,963

Membership Fees Donations Interest Income Other Income

Expenses (in USD) Personnel Website Development Annual General Meeting & Board support Travel Professional Fees Bank & Misc Charges Technical Assistance Support Miscellaneous (design, on-line, reports etc) Bad debts / prior period adjustments

Net Revenue for the Year Net Assets—Beginning of Year Net Assets—End of Year



The Global Ecolabelling Network would like to thank its members, associates and partners involved in promoting the ecolabelling of products and services around the world. GEN is always open to working on collaborative initiatives of mutual interest. To discuss potential opportunities or learn more, please contact your nearest country board member or: The GEN Secretariat 171 Nepean St, Suite 400 Ottawa, Ontario K2P 0B4 Canada Tel: +1 613 368 4419 Fax: +1 613 247 2228

CREDITS Editorial direction: Michael Hooper | Spotlight Creative Media Design: John Newcombe

Adroit Design Ltd

Cover Photography: Johannes Jansson |

GEN Annual Report 2013  

The annual report of the Global Ecolabelling Network for 2013

GEN Annual Report 2013  

The annual report of the Global Ecolabelling Network for 2013