back to Council of Europe's portal homepage back to Site's homepage

General description
Pilot Group
Public policies and legislation
Good Practices
Awareness raising seminars

Joint publications with Alternatives Economiques


L'Economie Politique n°39 Pour un nouveau modèle de consommation - 2008

Special edition of the French monthly magazine Alternatives Economiques

Series Trends in Social Cohesion
Methodological guides

Good practice sheets
Initiatives in Europe by country
Germany Denmark Spain France Italy
Rudi Schäfer
4 You Guest House
Hirtenstrasse 18
80335 Munich
Tel.: (00 49) 89 55 216 617
E-mail :

4 You: ecological youth hostel in Munich

At the 4 You youth hostel in Munich, the mattresses are made of natural materials, the meals are made from 80% organic or fair trade food and the cleaning products contain biodegradable chemicals. “4 You buys environmentally friendly supplies,” says manager Rudi Schäfer. 4 You is also a community project: its staff members are young, and half of them are on employment integration schemes.

Renovations subsidised by the city council.
The idea of an international ecological youth hostel was launched in 1992 by members of the association Förderverein Internationales Jugendgästehaus. The project was given financial backing by the Munich city council’s labour and economic development department, which subsidised two paid positions within the association from 1992 to 1995. Once the youth hostel had opened in 1995, another association, Paritätischer Wohlfahrtsverband, took over the management of the project. The city council then provided funding of 4 million Deutschmarks over two years (about 715,000 euros) for the renovation of the building, equating to 39% of the cost. It was agreed that if, during the term of the lease, 4 You failed to fulfil the (ecological and employment integration) objectives set, it would pay back this funding. At present, 70% of its 208 beds are occupied all year long. It provides accommodation for nearly 27,000 people each year.

Dietrich Brockhagen Germanwatch
Vossstrasse 1
D-10117 Berlin
Tel.: (00 49) 30 28 88 35 682 , E-mail:

400 kg for a return trip from Paris to Berlin, 3,980 kg for Paris-New York and 5,920 kg for Paris-Beijing: these are the volumes of carbon dioxide (CO2) discharged into the atmosphere during those flights. This information is available free of charge on the website “In order to avoid exacerbating climate change, each individual should discharge less than 3,000 kg of CO2 into the atmosphere each year,” says Dietrich Brockhagen, leader of the Atmosfair project within the NGO Germanwatch.

Voluntary fines.
Internet surfers who wish to do so can pay a “fine” used to fund energy savings projects in Southern countries. Medium-haul flights in Europe carry a fixed fine of 8 euros. The fine rises to 70 euros for a Paris-New York flight, and 200 euros for a Paris-Sydney flight. These figures are calculated on the basis of the number of tonnes of CO2 discharged, the number of passengers per flight and the cost of the energy savings project. Since the site was opened to the public in June 2004, nearly 3,000 people have paid fines averaging 30 euros. Two projects have already been funded: one producing electricity from waste in Brazil, and another replacing oil cookers with cookers fuelled by solar panels in India.

Germanwatch has received funding of 210,000 euros from the Federal Ministry for the Environment for the development of tools such as the calculator. The initiative is also supported by the Forumandersreisen (Travelling Differently Forum), which brings together about a hundred solidarity-based tourism operators. “36 members of our network have already talked to their clients about paying fines,” says Roland Streicher, Chair of the Forum.
Friedrich-Ebert Strasse / Haus 51 51429 Bergisch Gladbach
Tel.: (00 49) 22 04 84 23 70
E-mail :
Viabono quality standard

In order to publicise more effectively the vast number of green tourism initiatives in Germany an “umbrella brand” has been created to market them jointly under the same banner. This is a project the Federal Environment Agency, a scientific body attached to the Ministry of the Environment, has supported since 1999.

Environmental management
. In 2004 the Viabono seal of approval – created in 2001 – was awarded to nearly 200 initiatives based on principles such as eco-tourism and the discovery of local products. Marketed over the Internet by the Viabono company, based in North Rhine-Westphalia, this project is subsidised by the Ministry of the Environment. Tourism products are identified chiefly through networks such as the Forumandersreisen, the German Youth Hostel Federation and the German Cyclists’ Association. They are selected on the basis of 11 criteria, such as the use of local products, environmentally friendly energy and waste management and landscape quality. Regular monitoring visits are conducted. Members may be excluded if they fail to comply with the requirements. This initiative is to expand to Hungary.


The Kalundborg Centre for Industrial Symbiosis
Casa Danica Center
Hareskovvej 19
DK-4400 Kalundborg
Tel.: (00 45) 59 55 60 22

Industrial symbiosis in Kalundborg

What if the industrial system operated as a loop, as natural eco-systems do, with the by-products of some processes serving as resources for others? This would make it possible to limit wastage of energy and raw materials, and to reduce the production of greenhouse gases. The most advanced demonstration of this principle of industrial ecology is found in Denmark, in the port of Kalundborg.

Numerous partners
. At the centre of Kalundborg’s industrial symbiosis is the country’s largest power station, Asnaesverker. Nearby is a Statoil oil refinery. The latter supplies waste water to cool the power station, which sells steam to the refinery, as well as, amongst others, to the biotechnology company Novo Nordisk and the Kalundborg municipal council, for heating. 19 such exchanges have been implemented as part of the symbiosis initiative, reducing oil consumption by 20,000 tonnes per year, and water consumption by 2.9 cubic metres. This has greatly reduced waste production and greenhouse gas emissions.

About twenty eco-industrial parks along these lines were set up in the United States in the 1990s. Canada has about ten such parks. Europe has one in the port of Rotterdam. At present, however, none of the others features such systematic exchanges as those found in the Danish model.

Role of public authorities
. The Kalundborg symbiosis initiative was set up thirty years ago as a result of spontaneous exchanges, initially without a great deal of public assistance. Such assistance is necessary in order to develop this kind of project, however, in the form of direct or indirect funding. In Kalundborg, for instance, the municipality’s heating is supplied by the symbiosis, even though this ecological option entails additional costs for residents. In the United States, the prime movers in the various projects have often been companies, although most of the American eco-industrial parks received substantial federal aid under Bill Clinton, which explains their rapid development.

Lastly, public authorities also help to reduce transaction costs by making available the infrastructure essential to industrial ecosystems, or by stimulating dialogue among the various players, which is one of the keys to success. In Grande-Synthe, France’s first industrial ecology project, the municipality had initially been a driving force before a change of political leadership withdrew its involvement in 2001.


Asociación Plan de Acción Global para la Tierra - GAP España
Calle Aragonito 22
28023 Madrid
Tel.: (00 34) 629 15 07 45
E-mail :
Global Action Plan (GAP) in the Basque Country

More than 15 countries have implemented the Global Action Plan (GAP), sponsored by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), in one of their regions. In 2004, it was launched in the Basque Country by the GAP Spain association, in the comarca (intermunicipal entity) of Bajo Deba and the Urdaibai biosphere reserve, classified by UNESCO as a “protected area” owing to its ecological wealth, including its oak forests. This project is part of the regional sustainable development strategy pursued by the government of the Basque autonomous community.

Changing day-to-day behaviour
. The GAP programme sets out to educate local residents about protecting the environment by changing their day-to-day behaviour. Between December 2003 and March 2004, participating households received four handbooks, one a month, covering four areas: water, energy, transport and household waste. For instance, people are advised to use their own bags for shopping rather than the plastic bags distributed at the checkout, and to limit the length of showers to two minutes. Each handbook came with a questionnaire enabling GAP Spain to evaluate the action taken within households.

6,214 questionnaires
. A project monitoring committee was set up. It was made up of one member of each of the bodies involved: the Gipuzkoa and Bizkaia provincial authorities, Debegesa (the state-owned company responsible for sustainable development in the comarca of Bajo Deba), the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve Foundation, the Basque government and Ihobe (the state-owned company responsible for environmental management in the Basque Country).

8% of households in the two areas applied to take part in the programme. A total of 6,214 questionnaires were returned, representing 54% of the households involved. By the end of the programme, participants had reduced their CO2 emissions by an average of 15%, their domestic energy consumption by 17% and their water consumption by 7%. In particular, the association noted that 38% of participants had reduced the length of their showers to two minutes. In addition, 60% of the households stated that they continued to follow the guidelines in the handbooks once the programme had ended.

In Spain, a similar programme has been implemented with clients of the Santander Central Hispano bank, and GAP Spain is discussing the possibility of carrying out such a programme with Ave-Renfe (the state-owned company that manages the high-speed train network) and the autonomous community of Castilla La Mancha.
A Contramano
Eustaquio Barrón 2
41003 Sevilla
Tel.: (00 34) 954 21 87 29 and (00 34) 954 55 09 61
E-mail :
Andalusian Bicycle Pact

The Andalusian Bicycle Pact is a manifesto that commits signatories to developing policies to promote bicycle use in their areas. Private individuals, associations and institutions are encouraged to join in order to create momentum across Andalusia. The pact is part of the Co-operation Agreement for the Promotion of Sustainable Mobility. The latter was signed in 2002 by four associations, including A Contramano (a Seville cyclists’ association), Plataforma Carril-Bici (a Cordoba platform promoting cycle lanes) and the Federación Ecologistas en Acción (Ecologists in Action Federation), together with the environmental education department within the Andalusia executive (Junta). This project received funding of 30,000 euros from the Junta in 2003-2004, shared with other environmental education programmes, and 14,400 euros in 2004-2005.

Membership by local authorities.
Municipal and provincial authorities are urged to join the pact. 40 of them have signed it to date, including the provincial capitals of Cadiz, Cordoba, Malaga and Seville. The Andalusia Parliament also received an official request in September 2004. “We are optimistic that it will join in the future,” says Ricardo Marques Sillero, president of the A Contramano association. It is planned to hold a meeting of pact signatories in 2006, to enable them to pool experiences.


Daniel Vuillon
Alliance Provence paysans écologistes consommateurs Les Olivades
257 chemin de la Petite-Garenne
83190 Ollioules
Tel.: (00 33) (0) 4 94 30 03 13 or (00 33) (0) 4 94 98 80 00

3,500 families in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (PACA) region belonging to Associations for the Preservation of Small Farming (Associations pour le Maintien d’une Agriculture Paysanne, or AMAPs) have undertaken to buy fresh produce directly from local farmers for one season; they pay – in advance – a price set in conjunction with the producer. There are now 200 of these associations, first set up in Provence in 2001, and they are continuing to expand. Alliance Provence Paysans Ecologistes Consommateurs was set up in 2002 to federate the AMAPs and publicise the concept in the PACA region.

Local fair trade.
“Consumers have a guarantee as to the traceability of the produce, all of which is grown according to organic principles,” says Daniel Vuillon, the founder of Alliance Provence. The (local) distribution system requires little transportation, a factor in pollution. The produce is sold without any packaging. By relocalising the economy and making small farms sustainable, “the AMAPs are, in a way, involved in local fair trade,” says Philippe Chesneau, vice-president of the PACA regional council with responsibility for employment and spatial policies.

Alliance Provence is supported by the regional council, which is contributing 50,000 euros in 2005, equating to 40% of its budget; the rest comes from département councils. This has helped preserve 60 farms. “Creating jobs by conventional means costs 10,000 euros per post. With the AMAPs, the cost is 800 euros per job,” says Philippe Chesneau.
Brittany Regional Council
283 av. du Général-Patton
CS 21101
35711 Rennes Cedex 7
Tel.: (00 33) (0) 2 99 27 10 10
GMO-free Brittany  

In February 2005, 20 European regions signed a charter to protect crops from contamination by genetically modified organisms (GMOs) within their boundaries. Signatories include Tuscany (Italy), Wales (United Kingdom), Drama-Kavala-Xanthi (Greece) and five French regions: Ile-de-France, Aquitaine, Poitou-Charentes, Limousin and Brittany. This network of GMO-free European regions, set up in 2003, grew out of the mobilisation of thousands of European municipalities declaring themselves GMO-free.

Pressure. “For the first time, regional authorities are trying to put pressure on the European Commission,” says Eric Gall, of Greenpeace Europe. The signatories to the charter consider the European directive – which, in relation to the scattering of GMO seeds, does not provide for any penalties in the event of contamination – to be inadequate.

The signatories also undertake to promote supplies of GMO-free raw materials. Brittany is a pioneer in this respect. In October 2004, the regional council signed a statement of intent making a commitment to the state of Paraná (Brazil), which prohibits transgenic soya crops. “We are encouraging farmers to buy this soya for animal feed, with a view to developing the production of guaranteed GMO-free meat and milk,” explains Pascale Loget, vice-president of the regional council with responsibility for Agenda 21.
21 rue Alexandre-Dumas
75011 Paris
Tel.: (00 33) (0) 1 55 78 28 60
Centre for Independent Information on Waste

At the National Centre for Independent Information on Waste (Centre National d’Information Indépendante sur les Déchets, or CNIID), environmental activists analyse research carried out by the Environment and Energy Management Agency (Agence de l’Environnement et de la Maîtrise de l’Energie, or ADEME). They also search through ministry archives and read scientific journals in order to keep themselves informed about waste toxicity. This is an independent review office, set up in 1997 and modelled on the Commission for Independent Research and Information on Radioactivity (Commission de Recherche et d’Information Indépendantes sur la Radioactivité, or CRIIRAD), which has uncovered numerous nuclear scandals in France. For its part, the CNIID has made a name for itself by exposing the harmful effects of dioxin on health; the presence of dioxin in the atmosphere is related to the national waste management policy, which is based on an increasing number of giant incinerators. The CNIID, which is financially independent, receives 50% of its income from its members, with the rest coming from employment incentives and private foundations.

The centre is campaigning for the development of alternatives to the incineration and dumping of waste. Local and regional authorities have “many avenues to explore”, explains Jocelyn Peyret, of the CNIID, including the prevention and reduction of waste at source, the development of composting, reuse (networks of recycling facilities, for example) and more efficient local collection. The CNIID offers legal training for environmental activists and tools for changing departmental waste disposal plans (PEDs) or persuading elected representatives to develop alternative policies (1). It works with the National Committee for Reducing Waste at Source (Coordination Nationale pour la Réduction des Déchets à la Source), which brings together 270 local associations all over France.

Persuading elected representatives.
“Associations have now implemented numerous projects which have led to a reduction in the amount of waste incinerated or dumped in huge landfills,” says Jocelyn Peyret. Recently, in the wake of a campaign conducted by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and local associations in conjunction with the CNIID, the Bouches-du-Rhône and Vendée département councils have opted for waste management plans that do not include incineration. For its part, the Porte d’Alsace association of municipalities has implemented a composting and sorting programme.

The CNIID is also conducting a “clean production” campaign targeting the ministries involved in waste management, aimed at securing a greater commitment from manufacturers (financially and in terms of ecological prevention) to selective collection of their waste, particularly packaging.


Gabriele Bolini
Bologna Provincial Council
Agenda 21 Office
strada Maggiore 80
40125 Bologna
Tel.: (00 39) 51 65 98 480

Micro Kyoto in Bologna

The Bologna provincial council has been implementing the “Micro Kyoto” project since 2001, as part of its local Agenda 21 programme. It seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in 60 municipalities, with a view to honouring Italy’s commitments under the Kyoto protocol.

Co-op takes a stand against consumerism. In particular, the project encourages private individuals, businesses and administrative departments to engage in green purchasing. A responsible consumption and ecological footprint week was organised in 2004. Information stands on responsible consumption were then set up in supermarkets belonging to the Co-op chain, which is organised in the form of consumers’ co-operatives. “These stands were put up in the areas set aside for advertising promotions, so they were in an ideal location,” says Gabriele Bolini, of the provincial council’s Agenda 21 office. Organisers spent a week alerting customers to the realities behind low prices. One day was even devoted to the subject of non-purchasing as an act of ecological resistance to consumerism. In 2005, the working group is to publish a directory of the solidarity-based economy. All of these events were funded by the Bologna provincial council.