Published On: 18-Nov-2015
New leadership, a growing membership, and development of a visionary strategy marked a buoyant mood at the annual general meeting of the Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN) in Hong Kong. Representing almost 60 countries and territories, at 21 years of age GEN seems set to stretch.
Gathered at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, members voted Björn- Erik Lönn from The Nordic Swan ecolabel as the network’s new chair. He indicated his expectation of greater activity from board members and more input from the global membership, and immediately set about creating working groups in the areas of measuring the impact of ecolabelling globally, and completing a new 5-year strategic plan. He also established board member responsibilities for marketing communications and consumer information.
Outgoing chair Robin Taylor (Environmental Choice New Zealand) was presented with a gift to acknowledge eight years of service on the GEN board, during which time the organisation has advanced its internal processes and has attained its goal of accumulating a moderate financial reserve. “That will allow us to invest in the future,” said Mr Lönn.
Two new associate members were approved, TÜV Rheinland and the Confederation of Indian Industry.
The meeting also agreed to a new category of affiliate membership which will allow the GEN family to expand and include like-minded groups that are not actively engaged in assessing and issuing ecolabels but share the environmental objectives of GEN.
“The five-year strategy resulting from our working group discussions will bring us to a more visionary position,” says Björn-Erik Lönn. Citing the success of the network’s formal member peer review process, known as GENICES, he says the organisation is poised to broaden its outreach, having strengthened its internal relationships. “Most members have been through the peer review, and we have now grown from being an organisation of exchange-of-experiences to one of greater trust and confidence in each other. That means we can now focus more on external relationships.
I would like to see us grow tenfold, and be able to resource some fulltime positions. We could then play a much greater role on the world environmental stage.”
The 5-year strategy will empower further input into other international programmes, such as the UNEP 10-year framework, he said, “where we have a lot more to do.”
During the week, GEN also made presentations at the conference of the Asian Carbon Footprint Network (ACFN).
Two new members were voted to the board of directors: Chin-Yuan Chen from the Green Mark programme of Chinese Taipei, and Edwin Seah of the Singapore Environment Council. They fill vacancies left by Angela Griffiths (Ecologo) and Björn-Erik Lönn, and join sitting members Hans-Hermann Eggers (Germany’s Blue Angel), Eva Eiderström (Good Environmental Choice, Sweden), Guy Ladvocat (ABNT Brazil) and Xiaodan Zhang (China Environmental Labelling).
The chairman’s gavel was formally passed from Robin Taylor to Björn-Eric Lönn, who commented that it was travelling about as far as was possible, from New Zealand to Norway.
The incoming Chair thanked the Hong Kong Green Council for hosting and facilitating the meeting.
The invitation of Ukraine’s Living Planet programme to host the 2016 AGM and conference in Kyiv (Kiev) was accepted. Scheduled for the third week of October 2016, it will coincide with the five year jubilee of the International Forum Green Mind, arranged by the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Ukraine, which is expected to draw over 700 delegates from around 26 countries.