Four ASEAN countries prepped to improve Ecolabels and Green Public Procurement

Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand have now drafted the national social standards criteria for Type-I Ecolabels and Green Public Procurement. On 19 – 20 April 2018, 35 participants from government agencies, institutions and eco-labelling programme implementers of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand participated in the “Regional Workshop on Integration of Social Aspects in Type-I ecolabels and Green Public Procurement in Southeast Asia” in Bali, Indonesia.
Topics covered by the workshop included:
1. Social standards in the Global Value Chain (GVC)  –  An overview and outstanding issues for Type-I Ecolabels and Green Public Procurement
2. Feasibility study on integrating Social Aspects in the Blue Angel, the ecolabel of the federal government of Germany
3. Use of an intelligent instrument mix for addressing Social Aspects in Type-I Ecolabels and Green Public  Procurement  -  Legal  instruments,  due  diligence,  voluntary  certification, code of conducts and supply chain management 

The workshop was designed to raise awareness of the importance of integrating social standards issues in Type-I Ecolabel and Green Public Procurement and to disseminate know-how on different approaches, standards and instruments for practical implementation. The participants learned about the existing practice from the European Union (EU). This practice and knowledge will allow each nation to develop the draft for its own country.
If Social Aspects are not met during the process, the product or service does not have the right to acquire an ecolabel. Social Aspects have to be implemented at both the product and company level in order to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Depending on the hotspot, the crucial social issues that will be most affected by implementing criteria include working conditions in assembly lines during  toy production or which have negative impacts on communities, such as during the raw material  extraction  for  towels.
The four countries have drafted examples of the social standards criteria.
1. Indonesia:   Virgin pulp production and textile production
2. Malaysia:  Product category cleaning services, for which Social Aspects are partially included in the Malaysian Government’s Green Procurement Long Term Action Plan.
3. The Philippines:  ‘Cement” or how the extraction of cement threatens sustainability and livelihood
4. Thailand: The cleaning service of Ecolabels that are hired by the government or organisations.  

Why is this issue important?
Sustainable development overall consists of five different aspects, which can be categorised as the 5 P’s (People, Prosperity, Planet, Peace and Partnership). Within these aspects, a process or service can be practised in a manner that ‘is consistent with the current needs and the needs of the future’.

Sustainable Development Goals  (SDGs)  are the key to  reducing global poverty and already include Social Aspects within them. For example, the SDG ‘Gender Equality’ directly links to the Social Aspects of gender equality at work and equal opportunities.  SDGs  have to include not only environmental  aspects in resources, production and disposal, but also the social side, which has still not been implemented as successfully as the environmental aspects.

Ecolabelling is a voluntary method of environmental performance certification and labelling that is practised around the world. An ecolabel identifies products or services proven environmentally preferable overall, within a specific product or service category. 

Type I Ecolabels :
Type-I Ecolables are voluntary labels which are a seal of approval, with multiple environment criteria based on transparent standards for environmental preferability.They are developed in line with ISO14024 by using life-cycle consideration, assessment and approval by a third party.

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