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   Consumption and Production Patterns - News and Trends


February-March 1999

"Environment and Development for journalists" - a new Brazilian Website under construction
The Brazilian NGO "Com-Mam" was founded in Sao Paulo in June 1998 by a group of specialists in the field of environment and education. Com-Mam aims at bringing together information on the theme "Environment and Development", and making it available to the general public via different media, thus contributing to raising public awareness about environmental issues. The idea to create the organisation arose from the realization that information on the topic is available, but is scattered among libraries, universities, NGOs, specialist publications and institutes, and in the practical experience of people involved with the subject.

Com-Mam has chosen the internet as their first medium, with the webpage "Environment and Development for Journalists" (http://www.meioambiente.org.br). Journalists are the targeted users of the website - since they are the primary channel to public opinion - even though the information will also be of interest to other users.

Com-Mam is currently consulting with specialists in the field of environment and development. The site now includes a detailed "site map" with navigation tunnels for all the themes the site will eventually cover. For the moment, most themes include summary explanations, which will be filled out gradually by texts and links. Com-Mam welcomes your evaluation of the site, and your ideas as to how it could be enriched and made more useful. Com-Mam would also be happy to receive suggestions for themes, storylines, and links that you would like to find. Funding contributions from public and private organisations are also welcomed by Com-Mam.

For further information, please contact Ricardo Carvalho, Journalist and President of Com-Mam, e-mail: com-mam@meioambiente.org.br.

Source: http://www.meioambiente.org.br

Environment Exchange
A Swedish and a Scottish organization are launching the OM Environment Exchange to create an electronically based commodity market for trading recyclable and environmental products. It aims at opening up the recyclable commodities and futures markets to a wider audience by providing price transparency and best markets for these commodities, allowing traders to manage their risks, and matching buyers and sellers while maintaining confidentiality. Environment Exchange also intends to simplify handling of these commodities, allowing for savings on administration costs and improved access to or disposal of all traded commodities.

The first tradeable instrument will be European Packing Recovery Notes (PRNS). These Notes denote that a company has delivered a tonne of packaging material to a recovery/recycling facility. Trades of PRNS will initially be made over the phone with prices quoted on the website of Environment Exchange, with trades eventually being made over the internet. The first customers of Environment Exchange are in the United Kingdom, but the company hopes to operate throughout Europe in the future.

Recent UK environmental legislation, such as the Landfill Tax and Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 1997 (PWRegs), has been fundamental in triggering this initiative. This legislation has altered the economic balance away from landfill towards recycling and recovery, primarily to energy and composting, as a means of waste disposal. It has raised the profile of recyclable commodities, created new instruments (e.g. the evidence required by business that packaging materials have been either recycled or recovered), and highlighted the need to broaden the markets for commodities extracted out of the waste stream. 

As an illustration, the Department of the Environment (DoE) estimated in 1996 that by 2001 PWRegs will impact on 19,000 businesses, and the combined effects of this environmental legislation will be an annual cost to industry of 1 billion. It will affect all waste producers with a particularly major impact on the food, drink, retail, electronics, textiles and chemicals industries. The desire of the Government is that businesses should seek a collective solution to PWRegs by joining registered compliance schemes, approved by both the Office of Fair Trading and the Environment Agencies. These schemes will take on their members' legal obligation to obtain PRNS. Some twelve compliance schemes have been approved and others are seeking approval.

Source: Tomorrow - Global Enviroment Business, Number 1, Volume IX, January-February 1999; and http://www.environmentexchange.com

The Liveable Tucson Vision Program
The Liveable Tucson Vision Program seeks to make Tucson, a city in the State of Arizona in the United States, a better place to live by engaging the community in an inclusive planning process to identify common values, priorities, strategies, and measurable indicators of progress that will be used to shape Tucson's future. Throughout the spring and summer of 1997, a series of local forums were held in which community members participated in a structured dialogue to discuss their goals and priorities for the City of Tucson. In the fall of 1997, the program was extended to include additional forums geared specifically toward Spanish-speaking individuals, business people, and youth. 

To date, over 700 community members have participated in the forums, and those who were unable to attend meetings have had an opportunity to "vote" for their top priorities in Council offices as well as on the Livable Tuscon website. The 17 "Livable Tucson Goals" are the priorities that were most commonly articulated by participants during the process.

During the spring of 1998, six indicator workshops were held in which community members worked together in small groups to develop indicators to measure progress toward each of the "Liveable Tucson Goals". These "Key Indicators of Progress" will be used to create a "Community Report Card", that can be reviewed annually to monitor progress toward the goal of a "Liveable Tucson".

Examples of the wide variety of goals are: "safe neighborhoods", "excellent public education", "protected natural desert environment", "abundant urban green space and recreation areas", "clean air and quality water", and "people-oriented neighborhoods". 

Indicators for measuring progress toward the goal "Better Alternatives to Automobile Transportation", are use of alternative modes of travel, ratio of miles of quality pedestrian and bike paths and bus routes to total lane miles of roads, number of days you can see Rincon Peak from Tumanoc Hill, and number of pedestrians in neighbourhoods. Indicators for the goal "Efficient Use of Natural Resources" are the ratio of protected natural desert to total developed land, per capita water consumption, recycling as a percentage of total waste, and renewable energy as a percentage of total energy use.

The fiscal year 1998-99 Policy Initiatives are broad program areas that include specific programs and projects that help to further the 17 Liveable Tucson Goals. Main projects include "Back to Basics", a project on neighbourhood improvement, "Everybody's Neighborhood", aiming at downtown revitalization, "Youth Programming" to make communities more child-friendly and family-friendly, and multiple benefit water projects.

Source: 1998-99 Mayor and Council Policy Initiatives
Website: http://www.ci.tucson.az.us

Gender and Sustainable Consumption
The United Nations Environment and Development Committee of the United Kingdom (UNED-UK) is currently undertaking a project on gender and sustainable consumption. The findings of this research project are to be compiled as a report for advocacy and to be presented at the seventh session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), April 1999, New York.

UNED-UK feels that gender and consumption has not been sufficiently considered at the policy and NGO level, in spite of the fact that consumption has been addressed by numerous conferences and papers since the Brundlandt Report in 1987 and the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. According to UNED-UK, integrating a gender perspective provides a more complete and realistic picture for issues on sustainable consumption.

The first chapter of the report elaborates on the structural links between gender and consumption. It provides a historical overview of how women came to be historically associated with consumption and a contemporary perspective on how women represent the largest group of consumers worldwide. This chapter also looks at how gender influences marketing practices and what we consume.

The second chapter addresses gender asymmetry and consumption issues/rights. It focuses on key areas of asymmetry: poverty, environmental degradation-poverty-gender, globalization- consumerism-gender, advertising, and the role of the media and marketing strategies directed at women and children. According to the authors of the report, policy measures and initiatives on sustainable consumption need to take account of inequality at all these levels.

The third chapter brings together information on campaigns and activism (with a gender dimension) whereby groups have promoted sustainable products and challenged consumer pressures. This chapter looks at what has made these campaigns successful and how local people have responded. It will also include a survey on how gender-sensitive consumer groups are in the UK and to what extent they include gender in their work. 

Chapter four discusses ways of measuring gender disparities in relation to consumption. The project calls for policy makers to construct a Gender Consumption Index (GCI) that can provide gender disaggregated data. This chapter will include studies that have measured gender disparities and will discuss the benefits and importance of such tools. Chapter four will be followed by a database of specific individuals, research institutes and NGOs that are working on this and related issues.

UNED-UK is still in the process of collecting further information on this topic, and is inviting those who are interested to get in contact with them. They are also setting up an expert committee of people who are specialised on this topic. Funding contributions from public and private organisations are welcomed by UNED-UK.

For further information, please contact, Ms. Shalini Grover, UNED-UK, 3 WhiteHall Court, London - SW1A 2EL, UK. e-mail: Gshalini@hotmail.com.

Sustainable Consumption: a "Southern Perspective"
The Indian Consumer Protection Organisation CUTS is setting up its own Programme on Sustainable Consumption. The Action Plan includes four main sections: (i) Policy Framework on Sustainable Consumption, (ii) Environment Friendly Technologies and Practices, (iii) Eco-labelling, and (iv) Energy Availability and Efficiency.

Elements of the work on policy frameworks are activites related to the UN Guidelines on Consumer Protection, and the development of a National Consumer Policy Statement for India. Other activities involve policy advocacy to ensure implementation of the above documents.

In the context of environmentally friendly technologies and practices, CUTS intends to identify good and bad practices, and to disseminate information and campaign to promote best practice examples. This section also includes work on advertising practices. The 1998 publication "Role and the Impact of Advertising in Promoting Sustainable Consumption in India", written by N. Suresh, Rajat Chaudhuri and Pradeep S. Metha traces the impact of advertsing on consumption in India since liberalisation began in the early 1990s. This section of the Work Programme also includes work on possibilities for "leapfrogging" from selected old technologies to more environmentally sustainable technologies, and campaigns to promote these technologies (e.g. the Ecofrig described in the "News and Trends" issue of October-November 1998).

In the area of eco-labelling, mainly concerned with the Indian Ecomark, CUTS focuses on the analysis of existing standards that have been developed for the existing range of products, comparative analyses of eco-labelling criteria among countries, targeting a few selected products for promoting the Ecomark, challenging false claims by manufacturers, and influencing government procurement.

The work on energy availability and efficiency mainly concerns the identification of alternatives for energy production and transmission, information dissemination, and advocacy work with the government to promote an environment friendly energy policy.

In December 1998, Rajat Chaudhuri and Pradeep Mehta, the Secretary General of CUTS wrote a paper "The Question of Consumption - What we can do about it - A Southern Perspective", where he analyzes the particularities of consumption-related problems in the South, and makes suggestions on how both the Government and civil society can tackle these problems.

For further details on the Programme on Sustainable Consumption, CUTS Newsletters, and the above mentioned publications, please contact Ms. Amelia Andrews at e-mail: cutsjpr@jp1.vsnl.net.in., and surf website www.cuts-india.org
 

Sustainable Use of Resources in Europe (SURE)
Friends of the Earth Europe's 'Sustainable Europe' campaign found that reductions of 80-90% in the consumption of non-renewable materials is needed over the next few decades in the move towards sustainability. However, this consumption of non-renewable resources continues to rise at an alarming rate and the amount of waste produced in Europe each year continues to grow. 

Friends of the Earth Scotland are co-ordinating the Sustainable Use of Resources in Europe (SURE) project which aims to highlight the opportunities for improving the management of resources and reducing total waste production across Europe.

SURE, which is partly funded by the European Commission, is an eighteen month project running until October 1999. The project involves partner organisations in England, Italy, FYR Macedonia, Netherlands, Scotland, Spain and Ukraine. These countries represent a cross section of the social and economic circumstances which determine the patterns of resource use across Europe. 

The main objectives of the SURE project will be to: (i) feed the agenda of reducing consumption directly into the current EU debate on waste and resource management; (ii) provide 'best practice' and 'worst practice' examples of waste and resource-use policies and technologies across Europe, (iii) develop and campaign for effective waste minimisation and resource management strategies at the national level, and (iv) raise public awareness of the effects of current resource consumption. 

Each project partner will develop a strategy for reducing consumption of resources and steering society towards minimising the production of waste. In preparing their strategies, each partner will focus on one or more specific resource streams which have a high profile in their country. The principle recommendations from each strategy will be brought together in a report designed to demonstrate what needs to be done at a European level to improve waste and resource management.

A major conference is planned for June 1999. This will coincide with the launch of SURE's European level report and will aim to attract delegates from business, industry and government around Europe. 

For more information, please contact: Gavin McCall, European Project Manager, Friends of the Earth Scotland, 72 Newhaven Road, Edinburgh, Scotland, U.K., Tel: (44)+131-554-9977, Fax: (44)+131-554-8656, e-mail: gmccall@foe-scotland.org.uk.

Webpage: http://www.foe-scotland.org.uk

German project on Indicators for Sustainable Household Consumption
The project "Priorities and indicators for environmentally sound consumption" of the German Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment, and Energy is part of a demonstration project of the German Federal Environment Agency, aiming at evaluating sustainable consumption patterns and lifestyles in Germany. It includes the development of indicators to prioritise measures and behavioural changes needed at the household level for reducing environmental degradation.

The first step of the project consisted in identifying the main environmental driving forces behind the multitude of visible impacts caused by society and the main household consumption clusters that contribute to them. The second step involved the selection of indicators characterising those household activities. The findings were that energy and material consumption as well as land use were the main environmental impacts of our society, and that housing (including construction), food, and transportation (in this order) were the fields that needed most attention from an environmental point of view. On that basis, five indicators were selected for housing, three for food consumption, and five for transport.

Construction and housing indicators are: heating energy consumption, resource intensity, apartment size, the ratio of private investment in existing buildings over private investment in the construction of new buildings, and settlement area. 

Food indicators are: meat consumption, percentage of consumed products grown by ecological agriculture, and food-miles of transport for selected products.

Transport indicators are: travelling distances for shopping and leisure, percentage of travel for professional and educational purposes, percentage of travel for leisure and shopping, the total number of cars per 1,000 population, and long distance travelling.

The Wuppertal Institute organised a side event on the above project during the Ad Hoc Intersessional Working Group of the Commission on Sustainable Development. Ms. Nicola Breier of the Ministry for Environment, Nature Protection and Nuclear Safety of Germany moderated the event.

For further information, please contact: Mr. Joachim Spangenberg, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment, and Energy, e-mail: joachim.spangenberg@wupperinst.org; or Ms. Sylvia Lorek (e-mail: sylvia.lorek@wupperinst.org ). 

SPAC Watch: An NGO initiative to monitor national progress towards sustainable production and consumption
This February, NGOs agreed to move forward with the proposed SPAC Watch initiative. NGOs discussed various aspects of the initiative at the International NGO Conference on Sustainable Production and Consumption, in Soesterberg, Netherlands. This effort represents a collaboration among NGOs in various countries around the world, with the objective to monitor and report on progress by national governments in developing and implementing sustainable production and consumption policy.

Already, NGOs from India, Russia, Ireland, the United States, Chile, the Netherlands and other countries have committed themselves to act as civil society watch dogs to monitor efforts -- or note the lack of effort -- by their governments to follow through on their Agenda 21 commitments made at the 1992 Earth Summit. 

In particular, NGOs are focusing attention on the commitment made by heads of state during the Earth Summit to develop national policy frameworks for promoting sustainable production and consumption practices. With special attention focused on implemention of the newly revised United Nations Guidelines on Consumer Protection, NGOs throughout the world will be noting and reporting on what steps their governments take beyond the statements made at the annual Comission on Sustainable Development sessions.

For further information about SPAC Watch and the NGO Caucus on Sustainable Production & Consumption, contact: Jeffrey Barber, Northern Coordinator, NGO Caucus on Sustainable Production & Consumption, Tel: 202-872-5339; Fax: 202-331-8166; e-mail: jbarber@igc.apc.org.

Mid-Course Correction - Toward a Sustainable Enterprise: The Interface Model 
Ray Anderson, an industrial engineer from Georgia Tech, founded Interface, Inc., a carpet manufacturing company in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1973. Over the next two decades, Interface grew and prospered, a success by most traditional business indicators of growth: revenues, profits, products, and territories. Ray Anderson, however, found himself growing increasingly uneasy, a discomfort that became focused when he read Paul Hawken's book, The Ecology of Commerce. It became instantly clear to him that the processes of nature must be incorporated into every aspect of his life, including his company.

The new book, Mid-Course Correction is the personal story of Ray Anderson's realization that businesses need to embrace principles of sustainability, and of his efforts, often frustrating, to apply these principles within a billion dollar corporation that is still measured by the standard scorecards of the business world. While the path has proved to have many curves, Interface is demonstrating that the principles of sustainability and financial success can co-exist within a business, and can lead to a new prosperity that includes human dividends as well. By the end of 1998, Interface had saved nearly $70 million through initiatives to cut waste, save energy, and recycle its products. Employees at all levels share in the savings, through bonuses tied to waste reduction efforts. 

Anderson, who is currently Co-chairman of the President's Council on Sustainable Development, and was named the Georgia Conservancy's Conservationist of the Year in 1997, aims to make Interface the world's first truly sustainable company, and to that end he is introducing solar energy into his plants and funding research to produce 100 percent recyclable carpets.

Sources: http://www.chelseagreen.com, and Tomorrow - Global Environment Business, Number 1, Volume IX, January-February 1999.

Canada's NRTEE Workshop on Emissions Trading
Canada's National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE) organized an International Workshop entitled "Domestic Greenhouse Gas Emissions Trading Programs, A Comparison of Progress Around the World", on March 1-3, 1999, in Toronto, Canada. 

It examined emissions trading schemes under consideration by a number of countries. Speakers from government departments and research agencies in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway and the United States, among others, presented information on their national policy process and on the trading program designs being examined in their countries. Other topics discussed included allowance distribution and/or auction, emissions source coverage, use of credits from sources outside of the trading system, links to international flexibility mechanisms and pilot programs for greenhouse gas emissions trading.

Contact Elizabeth Atkinson, Senior Policy Advisor, NRTEE, 344 Slater Street, Suite 200, Ottawa, Ontario K1R 7Y3, Fax: (613) 992 73 85, e-mail: Atkinson@trnee.ca Website: http://www.nrtee-trnee.ca/

Source: The Gallon Environment Letter, Vol. 2, No. 30, December 19, 1998, Canadian Institute for Business and the Environment; 506 Victoria Ave., Montreal, Quebec H3Y 2R5, Tel: (514) 369 0230, Fax: (514) 369- 3282, e-mail: cibe@web.net.

New Venture Aims to Create World's First 'Hydrogen Economy'
A February 17 Daimler Chrysler news release notes that the company has signed a Co-operation Agreement with EcoEnergy Ltd., Norsk Hydro, and Royal Dutch/ Shell Group for a joint venture to investigate the potential for replacing fossil fuels in Iceland with hydrogen and creating the world's first "hydrogen economy". Oxygen from the air and hydrogen fuel are combined in a chemical reaction in fuel cells, to produce electricity and water. Vehicle fuel efficiency can be improved by 50 percent with no exhaust emissions.

The joint venture, called the Icelandic Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Company Ltd., with an equity capital of $1 million, will test various applications using hydrogen or hydrogen carriers with fuel cells. One of the first results could be a hydrogen/fuel cell-powered bus service in Reykjavik, with additional projects being introduced between 2000 and 2002. The joint venture ultimately aims to convert both the public and private transportation sectors, including fishing vessels. Work will also be carried out in the production, storage and distribution of hydrogen and hydrogen carriers.

The majority partner, Orkis hf., is owned by a group of Icelandic companies, led by the New Business Venture Fund. Orkis has been established specifically to take part in the joint venture. Each of the three other partners has equal rights and shares and already has expertise in this field. Daimler Chrysler has been developing fuel cell technology for automobile applications since 1991 and intends to mass-produce fuel cell vehicles for commercialization by the middle of the coming decade. Norsk Hydro has a long history in the production of hydrogen and hydrogen carriers and the development of hydrogen systems. Shell has recently set up a hydrogen business and has developed technology which can convert liquid fuels into a hydrogen-rich gas.

Iceland has large potential for renewable energy sources which, so far, have only been harnessed to a limited degree. Some 67 percent of its primary energy consumption is supplied by hydro- and geothermal sources, the highest percentage share among OECD countries. The Icelandic government has further development of the renewable domestic energy resources on its agenda. Such use could contribute significantly to reducing the emission of greenhouse gases.

Sources: Sustainable Energy Coalition "Weekly Update", February 21, 1999 (e-mail: kbossong@cais.com). 

Clean Transport Trade Netherlands-Benin
Trade and Environment go well together. This is illustrated by numerous business projects that were started in the framework of the Dutch sustainable development agreements with Benin, Costa Rica, and Bhutan. 

A new initiative on trade in used vehicles between the Netherlands and Benin is an example. Increased use of motorised transport has lead to various environment and traffic problems in Benin. The Dutch organisation for North-South campaigns, INZET, and a number of Benin counterparts are currently investigating the bottlenecks in both the Netherlands and Benin. The project should produce concrete possibilities for improvement without denying people in Benin their transport. Improved public transport, joint ventures between garages in the Netherlands and Benin and channelling the Dutch removal charge for old vehicles to Benin are some of the options under discussion. Recent new vehicle pollution legislation in Benin is a sign that vehicle pollution has moved to a prominent position on the political agenda, and that the government actively supports the initiative. 

e-mail: admin@inzet.nl; Website (in Dutch):http://www.inzet.nl
For more information about Ecooperation: e-mail: ecooperation@antenna.nl, Tel: +31 (0)20 422 11 40, Fax +31 (0)20 422 11 41.

The Natural Step for Business - Wealth, Ecology and the Evolutionary Corporation
The Natural Step is a model for sustainability that can be applied to any system, and on any scale: households, organizations, companies, communities, and countries. The Natural Step was founded in Sweden in 1989 by the Swedish oncologist Dr. Karl-Henrik Robert. Together with fifty fellow scientists, he drafted a paper outlining fundamental principles that could define a sustainable society. This process resulted in a consensus endorsed by all participants. From this document, four fundamental "system conditions" necessary for a sustainable society were developed , and the model was adapted into a one-day training program. 

The system conditions are the following: (i) subtances from the Earth's crust cannot systematically increase in the biosphere, (ii) substances produced by society cannot systematically increase in the biosphere, (iii) the physical basis for the productivity and diversity of nature must not be systematically degraded, and (vi) in order to meet the provious three system conditions, there must be a fair and efficient use of resources to meet human needs.

The new book "The Natural Step of Business" is the first book of in-depth case studies on companies that have adopted the Natural Step. It profiles four major companies: Interface, a flooring company from Atlanta; Collins Pine, a lumber company from Portland, Oregon; and Ikea and Scandic Hotels, both from Stockholm, Sweden. The book provides business leaders with the practical tools they need to build a sustainable business by increasing operating efficiencies, reducing costs, decreasing their impacts on the natural environment, and increasing employee morale, loyalty, and effectiveness. 

The Natural Step for Business - Wealth, Ecology and the Evolutionary Corporation, Conscientious Commerce Series, January 1999, ISBN 0-86571-384-7.
For more information about the "Natural Step" (in the United States), click on http://www.naturalstep.org
Source: http://www.newsociety.com

Lost in Transition: Local Markets and Sustainable Practices
This report follows up on the findings of the 1998 report "Impacts of Economic Globalization and Changes in Consumption and Production Patterns in Central and Eastern Europe (see "News and Trends", August-September 1998). In comparison with the previous report, which focused on environmental aspects of trends in consumption and production patterns, the new report stresses the social and economic dimension.

The report includes a case study of the beverage and packaging industry in Poland, and an article on public transport in Central and Eastern Europe. It also has a chapter on the development of organic farming in CEE countries and its social and environmental impacts. Finally, the report includes a chapter on local environmental knowledge in the Balkans, and on the impacts of the economic transition in Albania.

Ewa Charkiewich, e.a., CEE CAP Report 2 on Changes in Consumption and Production Patterns in Central and Eastern Europe - Lost in Transition: Local Markets and Sustainable Practices, December 1998, CEE CAP Secretariat.

For more information, contact Ewa Charkiewich, Tools for Transition, Atjehstraat 20, NL 2585 VK Den Haag, The Netherlands, tel and fax: +31 70 3520 289, E-mail: echsvb@euronet.nl

Previous versions of "News and Trends"

News and Trends December 1998-January 1999 

News and Trends October-November 1998 

News and Trends August-September 1998 

News and Trends June-July 1998 

 

 

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24 March 2003