African economies are among the most heavily affected by the detrimental effects of climate change such as prolonged drought periods and flooding. Mitigation of climate change and adaptation to its impacts will be vital for the continent. Sustainable production methods are not only a suitable means of adjusting to climate change – in fact, key economic sectors in Africa such as agriculture or forestry also bear a largely untapped potential for greenhouse gas emission savings. At the same time, future success of African products in the world market will decisively depend on meeting the consumers’ rising demand for sustainably produced goods and services. So far, Africa has not been able to benefit from these market opportunities. Eco-labelling is an effective market-based instrument to enhance access for African products to international markets while at the same time fostering sustainable consumption and production patterns. Permitting the selection of products and services according to specific environmental and social criteria, eco-labelling provides businesses with a way of measuring performance and communicating the environmental credentials of products. For consumers, they guide their purchasing decisions by providing information about “the world” behind the products. Governments can use eco-labels to encourage the behavioral change of producers and consumers towards long-term sustainability.
Objectives of ECO Mark Africa (EMA)
The EMA has establish a recognition system for sustainability standards which functions as a quality assurance mechanism. A set of threshold criteria has been defined including ecological, social and climate-relevant requirements as well as credible implementation mechanisms. National and international standards systems fulfilling these requirements will be able to use the EMA label.
Using this recognition system, EMA will encourage standards systems to address climate-relevant issues such as product carbon footprints or carbon offsetting schemes, which have often not yet been tackled adequately by existing standards systems. Furthermore, regional and sectoral up-scaling activities of existing standards in Africa will be facilitated.
The use of one common label awarded on the basis of clear threshold criteria combines high credibility with the value of African brand recognition. This will improve the image of sustainable African products and thereby foster their trading and marketing opportunities. Creating synergies through reduced marketing expenditure and certification costs, EMA will foster the cooperation of different voluntary ecological and social standards. For the consumer, the approach means enhanced transparency while at the same time maintaining the benefits of competition among the standard initiatives.
Points to Note on ECO Mark Africa…
- The ECO Mark Africa is legally represented in ARSO CACO and organizational structure established
- The ECO Mark Africa trade mark label is registered with World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)