In June/July 2017, GECA’s Standards and Technical Manager, Shaila Divakarla, represented GECA at three international conferences and meetings: the UNEP 10 Yfp SPP working group meeting, the annual ISEAL conference in Switzerland, and the APEC GSCNET conference in China. All events provided opportunities to collaborate on a global scale with other likeminded organisations working towards a sustainable future.
United Nations Environment Programme 10 Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Public Procurement (UNEP 10Yfp on SPP)
The 10YFP Programme on Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP) is a global multi-stakeholder platform that supports the implementation of SPP around the world. The Programme builds synergies between diverse partners to achieve the SDG target on SPP.
GECA represented GEN (Global Ecolabelling Network) at the meeting. Highlights included:
– The City of Zurich raising the issue of which ecolabels are reliable, and recognising GECA’s compulsory site audits and recent random audits as an example of “leading practice” in this area. The City of Zurich also spoke of how all public buildings in the city must use 100% recycled concrete from fully traceable sources.
– The expansion of the EPEAT program (life cycle and consensus based certification of Information and Communication Technology products) to include social impacts in addition to environmental impacts
– Discussion of the Sustainability Compass Web Portal, funded and developed by the German government to support sustainable public procurement through offering support to practitioners and a platform for collaborative learning. Ecolabels are given prominence as a tool for product selection.
– Further discussions on practical ways to implement sustainable public procurement in a range of contexts.
Speakers included GIZ, Green Electronics Council, City of Zurich, ICLEI (International Council of Local Governments on Environmental Initiatives), PUSSH (a Swiss NGO)and UNEP.
The Global Sustainability Standards Conference: The Future of Trust (ISEAL Conference)
The 8th Global Sustainability Standards Conference took a look into the future of trust: with the emergence of new initiatives, new technologies, and new expectations, how are standards and certification systems rising to the challenge of doing more while maintaining credibility? How are businesses, producers, and other stakeholders playing a role in meeting new commitments and achieving positive impacts?
Some of the key issues raised included:
– The importance of trust and transparency in demonstrating the credibility of sustainability labels is not only about what labels do but also what they don’t do. Labels that ignore social impacts are seen as less trustworthy.
– Much of the European Union (and the government of Switzerland in particular) is “very supportive” of sustainability labels, especially those that follow ISEAL’s credibility principles
– Moving forward, sustainability labels should seek to embrace “big data” – the use of data beyond certification programmes to analyse, inform strategy and actions. Greater collaborations between sustainability label organisations and their stakeholders would allow the capacity to scale up these impacts.
Speakers included IKEA International, Pandora, UNIDO, UTZ, Rainforest Alliance, Tata Sustainability Group and Fairtrade (among others).
APEC GSCNET Conference
In July 2017, the annual APEC Green Supply Chain Network (GSCNET) conference was held in Beijing, China. As one of the early members of GSCNET, GECA co-hosted the event. Representatives from various countries in the region, including GECA as a representative of Australia, presented developments in their respective countries and shared best practice with others for creating more sustainable supply chains.
The establishment of the APEC Green Supply Chain Network, and subsequent developments in the area, have been “very encouraging,” according to Divakarla, “particularly as so many global supply chains extend into Asia.”
The commitment of the Guangdong district, the economic engine of China for export markets, to green development was particularly impressive. It came as no surprise that this commitment arose from the realisation of the high price (both monetary and non-monetary) that was being paid in exchange for rapid short term economic gains.
The conference focussed heavily on environmental issues, which stood “in stark contrast” to Europe, where social issues are a more dominant issue. The rapid growth of e-commerce in the region has also put the spotlight on the logistics sector, in particular, in regard to transparency of supply chain of products and associated impacts from packaging, transportation and storage. “With so many sustainability developments , this is an exciting time for GECA to be involved in working with other organisations in the wider Asia-Pacific region,” said Divakarla.
GECA chaired one of the conference sessions for which speakers included representatives from the Tianjin Pilot Centre, Guangdong Green Supply Chain Association, Broad Group, General Electric (GE), Panasonic, Carbon Trust and Automotive Data Centre (within CATARC).