Informed consumers in the city of Heidelberg, in the Land of Baden-Württemberg,
now have access to a card for purchasing “sustainable” goods and services: the
Umwelt.plus.karte or “eco-plus” card. Launched in August 2002, this card was
instigated by the Institute for Research on the Ecological Economy (Das Institut
für ökologische Wirtschaftsforschung, or IOW), the municipal department
responsible for Agenda 21 and various local NGOs grouped together within the
Weitergeben association. The card, which has been available since May 2003, now
has more than 1700 users.
Fostering social cohesion. For 15 euros a year, clients receive
3-10% discounts from distribution networks offering ecological or social goods
or services. These include shops selling organic produce, a car-pooling service,
a DIY tool exchange service, small craft businesses, a language school and a
Discounts. Although the card is not electronic, it entitles the
holder to discounts on purchases. Above all, it puts a whole network of local
solidarity organisations into contact with one another, and publicises their
activities. The card is distributed by the NGO Ökostadt Rhein-Neckar. Founded in
1992 and a member of Weitergeben, this NGO specialises in exchanges of consumer
goods and the promotion of environmentally-friendly forms of transport. An
advertising agency, ID-Kommunikation, is responsible for communications for the
operation, which receives 45,000 euros in funding from the Federal Ministry of
Education and Research. The network also seeks to foster social cohesion and
good neighbourly relations through these exchanges.
(00 49) 030 46 78 130
From October 2003 to June 2004, a responsible consumption information bus, the MUTZ, (Mobilen Umwelttechnik Zentrum, or Mobile Centre for Environmental
Technology), drove around Berlin streets.
Raising awareness. It presented different brands and labels, such
as Rugmark rugs (guaranteed to be free of child labour), FSC wood (from
sustainable forests) and organic textiles. Passengers were given cups of fair
trade coffee, and members of the MUTZ association talked to them about “sharing
practices”, such as carpooling. They used the guide Der nachhaltige Warenkorb (The
Sustainable Shopping-basket), published by the Council for Sustainable
Development (Rat für Nachhaltige Entwicklung, or RNE) set up by the German
government in 2001. MUTZ has received financial backing from the Bundesrat (German
Senate) and support from numerous sponsors, including Bahr Baumarkt and Deutsche
Bahn. The guide Der nachhaltige Warenkorb is available at
“In 26 municipalities in the Ruhr, there are now 400 outlets selling fair
trade coffee. When we launched our campaign to promote fair trade in the Ruhr in
May 2000, we didn’t expect this kind of result”, explains Martin Müller, who
runs the fair trade shop Weltläden-Basis.
A Colombian co-operative.
Thanks to the fair trade importer El Puente, coffee produced by the Colombian
co-operative Nuevo Futuro is sold in specialty shops, churches, supermarkets and
tourist offices. Religious organisations and bodies such as Weltläden-Basis,
grouped together within One World Initiatives, market the coffee and lobby
municipalities in order to expand this project.
The campaign was developed with the support of local authorities, as part of
the Ruhr’s Agenda 21 programme. It is promoted by municipal departments within
the region, particularly those responsible for Agenda 21 (the “Agenda offices”),
and the packets of coffee feature logos specific to each town or city. It has
enabled the Nuevo Futuro co-operative, which provides incomes for 80 families,
to increase its profits, says Martin Müller. Nuevo Futuro produces 18 tonnes of
coffee a year, all of which are sold thanks to the campaign.
In July 2002, the Munich municipal council in Bavaria passed new public
purchasing regulations as part of the campaign “Made by Kinderhand, Munich
against Exploitative Child Labour”. The municipality, which has been run by a
Red-Green coalition for the last fifteen years, already applied environmental
criteria in its purchasing policy and set up integration projects recruiting
unemployed people and people with disabilities. In the wake of discussions with
numerous NGOs within the Agenda 21 working group, however, it wished to “go a
step further in the social field”, says Renate Hechenberger, a member of mayor
Hep Monatzeder’s staff.
Toys, sports equipment, rugs, etc. The campaign, launched in July
2002 in conjunction with associations such as the Munich North-South Forum,
Terre des Hommes Munich and Agenda 21 Co-ordination One World, was promoted by
more than 270 organisations. It raised awareness of child labour issues among
both Munich citizens and – above all – large companies, particularly those
supplying the municipality.
The city council allocated a budget of 14,500 euros to the campaign, primarily
for educational materials and background papers. At the same time, it introduced
new purchasing criteria for toys, sports equipment, rugs, textiles, leather and
wooden goods and agricultural produce.
When the municipality’s purchasing department finds that a product is
manufactured in Asia, South America or Africa, it asks its supplier to fill out
a form (drawn up by the department) designed to establish whether the
International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions on child labour are observed.
These conventions do not demand the abolition of child labour (straight boycotts
of goods manufactured by children have often had terrible consequences in
Southern countries, with the youngsters concerned being dismissed and finding
themselves on the streets or turning to prostitution as a result), but guarantee
them shorter working hours than adults so that they can attend school.
The municipality also requires a guarantee from an independent organisation:
certification from a fair trade body, such as the Rugmark seal of approval for
rugs. However, the company may also simply undertake to set up projects aimed at
combating child exploitation, particularly among its subcontractors. Failing
such an undertaking, it is excluded from the tender process, although this
scenario has not yet arisen.
Where no certification exists. Renate Hechenberger acknowledges
that “the requirements imposed on companies may seem mild, in that it is easy to
sign an undertaking”. However, the municipality has had to contend with a lack
of social seals of approval and national legislation on the subject, “although
there are national or European environmental seals of approval,” says Renate
Hechenberger, “and environmental safety is sometimes included among product
quality requirements”. Likewise, it is difficult to assess the social impact of
responsible purchases, “more difficult than putting figures on energy savings,
Raise one's expectations. However, she says, “NGOs, trade unions
and companies are currently making a real effort – which we are following
closely – to develop monitoring and social certification procedures. We shall
step up our requirements according to the progress made in this area.”
A number of the municipality’s suppliers have in turn started to make their
subcontractors aware of child exploitation issues. Munich banks and religious
organisations have decided to follow the municipality’s example, as have
councils in three other German cities: Bonn, Konstanz and Mainz. A Munich NGO,
EarthLink, is providing information to other city councils in Germany and
lobbying them. Its website contains a great deal of information on the subject:
In Dortmund, a city of 590,000 inhabitants in North Rhine-Westphalia, Fair
Trade Week 2002 lasted several months – from March to December – as part of the
“Dortmund eine Hauptstadt, die Handelt” (“Dortmund: a Trading Capital that acts
A tram promoting fair trade travelled around the city for three months; a
regional guide to fair trade products and networks was produced; a petition
demanding improvements in working conditions in the sportswear industry was
launched; neighbourhood parties were organised; and numerous other initiatives
took place, particularly in relation to fair trade toys in schools. More than
200 activities were implemented.
“Coffee-Express”. Dortmund has its own fair trade coffee,
featuring a logo specific to the city. At the instigation of the One World
Network (Eine Welt Netz, or NRW), this coffee was served to passengers on a
train travelling from Hamm to Wuppertal, passing through Bonn and Düsseldorf.
Pupils at a partner high school explained the coffee industry for them during
Fair trade capital. Schools, consumer organisations, the Third
World Information Centre, fair trade shops (Weltläden), churches and the
municipality’s “Agenda Office” joined forces to promote fair trade, together
with many other groups. A Dortmund advertising agency designed campaign leaflets
and posters. The REWE group, a leading company in the European food trade, also
took part, as did Karstadt Warenhaus, a large conglomerate of department stores
that has supported fair trade since 1991. Some activities, which were highly
publicised by the local media, even took on a regional dimension, involving the
Land Environment Ministry in particular.
In 2003, the city was named Germany’s fair trade capital. At the end of this
campaign, some forty members of the network formed an association called
“Dortmund: a Trading Capital that acts fair”. It organised many other activities
in 2004, including the promotion of fair trade products in front of 83,000
spectators at a Borussia Dortmund match run by the Federal Football League.
By an Act of 27 February 2002, Belgian MPs introduced the world’s first (and, to
date, only) social seal of approval, guaranteeing socially responsible
production conditions. This seal assures consumers that the company in question
has complied with the ILO conventions, which cover eight main principles,
including trade union freedom, a prohibition on forced labour, and action to
combat discrimination and child labour.
A stringent procedure. Companies requesting the certification must
show that they deserve it by supplying a social report. An evaluation committee
(the Committee for Socially Responsible Production), made up of representatives
of the relevant ministries, employers, trade unions, consumers and development
NGOs, verifies the evidence provided. Depending on its conclusions, the Belgian
Ministry of Economic Affairs decides whether or not to award the seal of
approval, which is valid for three years. Further government monitoring is
undertaken at the end of this period. During the three years, accredited
independent auditors are responsible for interim monitoring.
The aim is to ensure decent working conditions throughout the production chain,
both within Europe and among subcontractors in the South. Accordingly, the
Belgian social seal of approval provides that at least 85% of the production
chain must be subject to monitoring.
Five companies awarded the certification. The process is
therefore far from being purely declaratory; should a company cheat on the
report, its director risks a very heavy fine. Nor does it rely on coercion alone,
but also, according to the website devoted to the certification, “on the concept
of responsibility: that of companies, of course, but also that of the state,
which guarantees the certification’s soundness, and above all that of consumers”.
The Belgian initiative is a world first, but is of limited application as yet:
only five companies have received the quality stamp. Subcontractors working for
these companies also benefit from the process, even if they do not receive the
certification. For instance, Ethias, a home insurance company recently awarded
the seal of approval, works with subcontractors in the building sector, which
must satisfy the requirements for obtaining the certification. Undeclared labour
– which is very common in the building industry – is thereby tackled throughout
the production chain.
Public purchasing by Catalan local government departments is to be ethical from
now on. At present, this means social clauses are being incorporated into calls
for textile tenders (for work uniforms) by three large city councils (Barcelona,
Badalona and Manresa), and by the Barcelona provincial government.
SETEM Catalunya. This operation was instigated by the NGO SETEM
Catalunya, a federation of development associations founded in 1968 along the
lines of the French collective De l’Ethique sur l’Etiquette. It is funded
jointly by the Catalan Co-operation Fund (11,000 euros) and the provincial
government (10,000 euros).
SETEM is continuing to lobby other local councils in the region to encourage
them to engage in ethical purchasing. It has researched similar operations
elsewhere in Europe, and is putting together a guide that will eventually be
distributed to all Catalan local councils. Seminars are planned for local
government technical staff. A monitoring committee made up of the groups
involved, NGOs and local authorities meets twice a month.
El Bon Caf, Bisbe Laguarda 4
34) 93 44 15 335
Fair trade coffee at the Barcelona city council
In November 2002, the municipality of Barcelona unanimously approved a statement
in which it undertook to use fair trade products in its departments. Automatic
drinks machines on its premises now sell fair trade coffee; this will soon be
the case in cafeterias as well, and consideration is being given to
incorporating fair trade criteria into municipal calls for tenders. An
information campaign targeting municipal employees has also been conducted.
Agenda 21. This operation is part of the city’s Agenda 21
programme, and has been set up with assistance from two NGOs: SETEM and
Cooperacció, a human rights association. These independent bodies certify the
coffee used by the council, and guarantee that it does actually come from fair
trade. The project also includes a programme promoting fair trade in Barcelona’s
municipal schools and 44 municipal civic centres (council welfare offices).
Juli Silvestre Martinez
Fondation Un Sol Món
Tel.: (00 34) 93 484 89 05
E-mail : jsilvestre@ unsolmon.org
Compra Social in Catalonia
In Catalonia, www.comprasocial.net,
the Compra Social (social purchasing) portal, now puts the goods and services
offered by the region’s social enterprises online as a means of developing their
economic activity. The latter include workers’ societies (see box) and Catalonia
integration and fair trade enterprises. The Un Sol Món (One World) foundation
and the Caixa Catalunya (Catalonia Savings Bank) are behind this project,
launched in 2003.
One of its objectives is to penetrate the local government market; since 2000,
some public authorities have been obliged to include social clauses in their
calls for tenders (they may be substituted for the obligation to employ a
certain proportion of people with disabilities). “But in many cases,” explains
Juli Silvestre Martinez of Un Sol Món, “they don’t know where to look, and give
up even before making contact with a social provider.”
Complying with social clauses. Other potential clients include
companies, which are increasingly concerned about their social responsibilities,
and bodies within the social sector themselves. Catalonia has several thousand
such bodies, but they are not always in contact with one another. “A bit like
the Yellow Pages, this website brings together all the goods and services
supplied by the region’s social sector,” says Juli Silvestre Martinez. The site
has been available for consultation since November 2004. It was designed by the
enterprise Diskanet, which employs people with (motor or mental) disabilities
and works in the computing sector. 500 goods and services are currently
available on the portal.
Consejería de Medio
Dirección general de Educación Ambiental y Sostenibilidad
avenida Manuel Siurot 50
Tel.: (00 34) 95 50 03 496
Green Christmases in Andalusia
Andalusia held its third Green Christmases programme on 21 and 22 December 2004.
Each year, the programme takes place simultaneously in the cities involved in
the “Making Christmas Cheaper for the Planet” campaign: Cadiz, Cordoba, Granada,
Huelva, Jerez, Malaga and Seville. These municipalities took part, together with
the Andalusian Directorate of Environmental Education and Sustainable
Development, the Andalusia Federation of Organisations of Consumers and
Producers of Organic and Craft Products and associations such as Friends of the
Earth, which put together information material.
Marquees and street performances. Organic and fair trade products
are displayed in marquees, with people available to answer questions from the
public. Leaflets containing Christmas cards are also distributed in the middle
of street performances. Educational DVDs are screened, and alternative transport
routes (by bicycle) set up. The Andalusian Directorate of environmental
education and sustainable development covers the cost of Green Christmases. The
campaign enabled participants to strengthen their relationships, and they are
considering what follow-up action to take.
After coffee and fair trade bananas, Max Havelaar has for the first time awarded
a seal of approval to a non-food item: cotton. Cotton originating from four
African countries (Mali, Senegal, Cameroon and Burkina Faso) will carry the FLO
quality stamp. It is used in socks, tee-shirts, cotton wool and household linen
made by brands such as Kindy, Armor-lux, Bocoton and La Redoute. This initiative
is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (610,000 euros over three years)
and the Enterprise Development Centre, a co-operation programme between the
European Union and countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (which is
contributing 500 000 euros over three years).
An iconic product. The Max Havelaar France association is thereby
tackling an iconic product. In 2004, the World Trade Organisation (WTO)
criticised the subsidies granted by the United States to its cotton producers,
following a complaint laid by Brazil in 2002 and the protests of African states
at the Cancún conference in 2003. Subsidies amounting to 3 or 4 billion dollars
are shared among 25,000 American cotton producers, making the United States the
world’s second-biggest producer and resulting in overproduction and falling
prices. Notwithstanding the WTO’s decision, the drop in prices has very serious
repercussions for small West African producers, who have to sell their cotton at
prices 40% lower than those practised by the Americans.
A complex process. The price of fair trade cotton carrying the Max
Havelaar certification is 0.41 euros per kilo. This is 46% higher than the
current price of Senegalese cotton, and 26% higher than that of Malian cotton.
Of this amount, 0.36 euros goes to the producers, and 0.05 euros towards a
development bonus paid to the producers’ grouping to fund education, health and
sanitation projects approved and managed by its members. Producers who grow
organic cotton are also paid a bonus of 0.05 euros per kilo.
Because the manufacture of cotton is a longer, more complex process than that of
coffee, Max Havelaar has joined forces for this initiative with the cotton
company Dagris, a state-owned enterprise that puts the association into contact
with producers and provides them with technical support. Cotton from twelve
groupings, involving 3,300 producers, has thereby been certified. As regards the
rest of the chain, textile factories will eventually be audited to ensure that
they comply with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions.
Paper, photocopiers, ink cartridges, school supplies, sorting of waste, fair
trade and agricultural products: in contract after contract, the Saint-Denis
municipal council has been incorporating social and environmental clauses into
its public purchasing since 2001. This municipality of 93,000 inhabitants in
Seine-Saint-Denis, north of Paris, which is run by Communist reformers, has
introduced an ambitious policy.
Technical clauses in its stationery supply contract, for example, require
suppliers to provide paper containing at least 50% recycled fibres. The
photocopier contract consequently has to follow suit: a clause stipulates that
the models provided must accept this type of recycled paper.
Selective sorting. When it comes to collecting waste paper for
recycling, the council goes beyond the statutory requirements which classify
local and regional authorities’ waste as industrial waste that does not have to
be sorted. The 1998 Voynet law made the selective sorting of household waste
mandatory from 2002, but not that of industrial waste. It puts local and
regional authorities’ waste in the same category as industrial waste. In
Saint-Denis, however, every office has been equipped with a special bin since
2003, allowing daily collection of paper and other recyclable waste in special
containers. The contract also provides that the job of collection must go to
people on employment integration schemes. Accordingly, the company holding the
contract subcontracts this activity to a sheltered workshop. All paper-related
contracts – including purchase, use and collection – have therefore been made
subject to social and environmental clauses.
This “greening” of public purchasing is part of a wider environmental management
plan, which, in 2005, may lead to the very stringent EMAS certification
introduced by the European Union in 1993.
Environmental and social concerns are not always compatible, however. “We want
our departments to use recycled ink cartridges,” explains Maud Lelièvre, the
deputy mayor responsible for sustainable development. The problem is that 80% of
the refilled ink cartridges sold in France have been recycled in China in
dubious social conditions. The council consequently wishes to combine an
environmental clause and a social clause in the same contract, and to assign
this service to an integration enterprise.
Both social and ecological goals. In order to identify supplies
that comply with both social and environmental clauses, as well as satisfying
price and quality requirements, Saint-Denis has worked in partnership with
Greenpeace. Its wood contracts, for instance, include a requirement for the
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, which guarantees that forests
are managed sustainably. The NGO helped the council draft its clauses and
analyse the tenders received.
In addition, the municipality belongs to several networks of local and regional
authorities. At European level, it has joined the Buy It Green Network run by
the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI), which
brings together 400 local authorities adopting sustainable development
approaches. As such, it is involved in a European network set up by the ICLEI’s
European secretariat in Freiburg, Germany.
At local level, Saint-Denis is a member of the Ile-de-France Network for Ethical
Purchasing, set up in September 2003, as are the Seine-Saint-Denis département
council and the municipality of Champigny-sur-Marne. Modelled on the scheme set
up by ten or so local and regional authorities in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region,
this network brings together towns and cities within the same region to draw up
identical specifications so as to put pressure on their suppliers – which they
sometimes share – to provide supplies that comply with social and environmental
Commercial penalties. Lastly, at national level, the council is a
member of Cités Unies France, an association bringing together 400 local
authorities. Within this organisation, one of the aims of the national ethical
purchasing network (comprising 40 or so members) is to develop a European system
for verifying working conditions. “Aside from the prohibitive cost, we do not
believe it is appropriate to use international auditing companies. It is no
longer a case of grading a producer from time to time, as happens in the
financial sector, but rather of conducting long-term monitoring,” says Maud Lelièvre. “Setting up a network enables us to send a strong market signal to our
suppliers. Should production patterns fail to change, the penalty is not a legal
one – we are all aware of the scope of international law – but a commercial
The Grenoble fair trade association Equi’sol 38 launched a local solidarity
purchasing portal in January 2005, aimed at both private individuals and, above
all, local authorities and workers’ councils: www.ofretic38.com. On offer are
foodstuffs, craft products, local services and trips to Africa, South America
and Asia. The tour operators – Couleurs Sensations, Vision du Monde and Souffle
de l’Inde – are solidarity tourism associations based in Isère. For local
community-based services, the partner is Vivial, a departmental platform of
associations providing services to private individuals.
Using service job vouchers (subsidised vouchers giving access to services),
members of workers’ councils and local government employees can take advantage
of services such as help for the elderly or home-based school remedial classes.
Catering is provided by an integration enterprise, L’Arbre Fruité, which sells
tray meals made from local organic produce for 12 to 15 euros.
In conjunction with local businesses. This scheme is part of the
Partnership Project for the Development of the Social and Solidarity Economy set
up by La Métro (the Grenoble conurbation committee) in 2003. Launched after an
18-month diagnostic process, the project has been implemented by a collective
representing the 250 organisations involved in Grenoble’s social and
solidarity-based economy, together with Schneider, ST Microelectronics and the
Atomic Energy Commission (CEA). La Métro has also funded another website,
information portal on the conurbation’s social and solidarity economy. In total,
it has allocated more than 500,000 euros to the partnership project from 2003 to
Deputy Mayor responsible for the Solidarity-based Economy
Tel.: (00 33) (0) 3 20 49
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Making Lille a “testing ground for new practices”: this is the aim of Lille’s
plan for the development of the social and solidarity-based economy, renamed
“Liberté d’Entreprendre Autrement Lille” (Freedom to Do Business Differently in Lille, or LeaLille) in 2004, explains Christiane Bouchart, the deputy mayor
responsible for the solidarity-based economy. This plan, adopted by the
municipality in 2002, brings together nearly a hundred organisations, including
the Standing Assembly for the Solidarity-based Economy (APES), Finansol (which
awards seals of approval to solidarity-based finance products) and the Nord-Pas-de-Calais Organic Farmers’ Grouping (GABNOR).
A budget of 1.2 million euros. In practical terms, LeaLille is
divided into four thematic sections: consuming and producing differently,
trading differently, doing business differently and saving differently. Each
section is led by an association. The plan has a budget of 1.2 million euros
over three years, half of which is funded by the city council and the rest by
the regional council, the state, the Nord département council and the Deposit
and Consignment Office. Its activities include: setting up a fifth Club d’Investisseurs pour une Gestion Alternative et Locale et de l’Epargne Solidaire
(Investors’ Club for Alternative Local Management of Solidarity Savings), or CIGALES, in the conurbation to increase the availability of solidarity financial
products; holding a two-day event in the city centre, with a marquee and
caravans hosted by 42 organisations within the social and solidarity-based
economy, which attracted nearly 10,000 visitors; and distributing the
three-monthly publication L’Echo Solidaire, which outlines new initiatives.
Ethical purchasing. The municipality is setting an example with
its purchasing policy by using employment integration organisations; since 2003,
it has also targeted six procurement contracts focusing on environmentally
friendly products: building, painting, cleaning and hygiene products, street
lighting, paper and envelopes. Lastly, the Lille city council has joined forces
with nine other local and regional authorities in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region
(including Dunkerque and the Nord département council) to draft common
specifications, incorporating social clauses, for procurement contracts such as
those for textile products, most of which are manufactured in South-East Asia.
In 2005, the focus will be on contracts for work clothes for municipal staff
(smocks, overalls and so on), in co-operation with the Yamana fair trade
certification association, which is launching the Fibre Citoyenne (Civic Fibre)
programme suggesting agreements on objectives for textile and clothing companies.
26,000 Genoa schoolchildren now consume fair trade bananas, rice, cocoa,
chocolate and fruit juice at least once a week. The Solidarity Catering project
was set up in 2001, based on a concept devised by the Genoa Solidarity Shop.
This fair trade association, which is a member of CTM Altromercato, the main
Italian grouping of fair trade NGOs, suggests that fair trade products be
included in municipal calls for tenders for school canteens.
30 other towns and cities. CTM Altromercato then conducted a
national campaign, and thirty or so other towns and cities followed suit
(including Alessandria, Florence, Brescia, Rome and Gorgonzola), reaching some
280,000 children. The project has also been extended to hospitals and
universities. The various municipalities’ purchasing departments have come on
board, as have their finance departments, in view of the higher cost of fair
trade products. In each case, the municipalities have approved specific budgets.
In the wake of the December 1999 Act on the promotion of organic farming,
Italian local and regional authorities are already demanding organic produce in
some of their calls for public catering tenders. “This has prepared the ground
for fair trade products”, explains Cristiano Calvi of CTM Altromercato. It
affords an opportunity both to put some ethics into school catering and to give
it an educational role, as the municipalities run food education activities for
children and school caterers, along with globalisation workshops.
Parco nazionale Aspromonte
via Aurora 9
Stefano in Aspromonte
Tel.: (00 39) 09 65 74 30 60
E-mail : email@example.com
From 1 November 2003 to 30 November 2004, tourists and residents of the fourteen
municipalities within the Aspromonte national park were able to pay for their
purchases using “ecos”. This currency, which complemented the euro and was of
equivalent value, remained in circulation for a year, at the park’s instigation
and with support from the Banca Etica.
Combating unemployment. “The purpose of Eco Aspromonte is to
strengthen the region’s identity and boost the local economy,” explains Antonio
Perna, director of the national park. The Calabria region faces a difficult
economic situation: in 2004 it had an unemployment rate of 23.8%, one of the
highest in Europe; half of its young people were unemployed. This resulted in a
flourishing parallel economy, undermining the image of the region, which suffers
from a lack of tourists.
An ethical local currency is a positive development tool in such circumstances.
It was used in about a hundred approved shops involved in sustainable
development, such as organic restaurants and bars, which offered clients a 5%
discount. The equivalent of 2 million euros were printed by the National
Polygraphic Institute, at a cost of 90,000 euros, covered by the park. In
addition, a sum of 10,000 euros was spent on advertising. One-, two-, five- and
ten-eco notes, designed by artists, were made available to the public by the
Caterina Zanin ou Marisa Furlan
Via Trieste 82/ c
30175 Marghera, Veneto
Tel.: (00 39)
04 15 38 14 79
The two Stilinfo offices were opened in Venice in May 2004, one right in the
historic centre and the other in the suburb of Mestre. Following a survey of
consumption patterns, the municipality and the Veneto provincial council decided
to make addresses offering alternative forms of consumption available to the
public, along with a mine of information on various good practices: renewable
energy sources and the installation subsidies available, ways to save water,
sustainable architecture, ethical and solidarity-based finance and so on. A map
of the area is also available, showing the network of organisations involved in
the solidarity-based economy.
500 contacts. The offices are run by the Mag Venezia co-operative.
In the first few months, they recorded 500 contacts (90% of them in person and
the rest by e-mail or telephone). Stilinfo is part of the “Cambieresti? Consumo
Ambiente Risparmio Energetico e Stili di Vita” (“Would You Change? Consumption,
Environment, Energy Savings and Lifestyles”) project, and is funded by the
Environment Ministry under its Agenda 21 programme. The municipal council, which
provided premises for the offices, contributed 20,000 euros to cover management
costs in 2004. The provincial council contributed an identical sum to cover
Agenda 21 Comune di Sesto San Giovanni
Staff del Sindaco
Via Benedetto Croce 28
20099 Sesto San Giovanni
Tel.: (00 38) 02 24 121 240
Guide to sustainable consumption in Sesto San Giovanni
In Sesto San Giovanni, a city of 80,000 inhabitants near Milan, a Practical
Guide to Sustainable Consumption was distributed to 35,000 families in 2003.
This initiative was part of the city’s Agenda 21 programme, which also covers
many other areas such as selective sorting, water and energy savings and
mobility. As part of a participatory approach, the municipality set up a
solidarity buying group for consumers thinking about ways to promote sustainable
Poll. To launch its campaign, the city council also commissioned a
2003 survey, which showed that 35% of the municipality’s residents already
bought sustainable products sporadically, 44% of them young people. The main
reason the others did not (yet) consume such products was the fact that they
were not aware of them (55%), hence the idea of distributing this free guide to
residents. Next came a desire not to change their consumption habits (44%),
higher prices (20%) and a lack of confidence (14%). A similar survey is to be
conducted at the end of the Agenda 21 programme, in 2007.
Pagine Arcobaleno is a group of five associations that publishes a Bologna guide
to responsible consumption, bearing the same title. These associations include
civic Internet organisations (Avvio and Bologna Free Software Forum) and NGOs
working in the international co-operation or social fields (Amici dei Popol,
Rete di Lilliput and La Madia). They work with a network of social co-operatives
and organic agricultural producers. The group sets out both to draw attention to
what the province’s solidarity economy has to offer and to develop links between
the various organisations.
5,000 copies. The Pagine Arcobaleno project comprises a number of
aspects: putting together and publishing the paper version of the guide, the
second edition of which (the first dates back to 2002) will have a print run of
5,000 in May 2005, and distributing it throughout the province; managing and
updating the website of the same name (www.paginearcobaleno.it);
and organising and co-ordinating various initiatives to promote the solidarity
economy network within the province, such as the Bologna Solidarity Economy Fair
in May 2005.
Financial arrangements. The project’s finances are managed by
VolaBO, the Voluntary Service Centre for the Bologna province. This association
promotes the activities of voluntary organisations. Pagine Arcobaleno does not
receive any money, but finds service providers for the project; VolaBO approves
its selection and pays for the services. This financial arrangement was
developed out of a wish for transparency, “even though it can be rather
cumbersome”, says Roberto Cerrina, the group’s co-ordinator. Pagine Arcobaleno
received a total of 35,000 euros in funding in 2005. The Bologna provincial
council funds it through both its Agenda 21 office and its environment division.
It is also supported by the management committee of the Emilia-Romagna regional
council’s Special Voluntary Service Fund.
Co-ordination of the various participants takes place through meetings, a
mailing list and a shared interactive Internet site, into which the necessary
tools for producing the guide are inserted using open-source software. The
ethical criteria adopted and presented in the paper version of the guide have
thereby been decided on a joint basis. Members of the network help with
publication and printing.
General Directorate of Economical Development
Social resposibility Sector
Region of Tuscany
via di Novoli 26
Tel.: (00 39) 554 38 31 78
Social and environmental responsibility in Tuscany
Is Tuscany the region with the highest number of socially responsible
enterprises in the world? Of the 430 enterprises having received SA 8000
certification, which guarantees quality environmental management, 48 – or more
than 10% – are based in Tuscany. This is no coincidence, of course, but rather
the fruit of a joint effort by the Tuscany regional council and the region’s
various economic, social and solidarity players since 2002.
Fabrica Ethica. In order to help enterprises reconcile economic
competitiveness and sustainable development, in 2002 the regional council
launched the Internet site
www.fabricaethica.it, which explains to the many local SMEs how to adopt
socially and environmentally responsible approaches. In 2003 the regional
council went a step further by setting up the 25-member Regional Ethical
Committee, comprising trade unions, employers’ associations, including employers
within the social economy, the Tuscan branch of the Association of Italian
Municipalities and NGOs representing the solidarity-based economy or consumers.
According to Antonella Turci, head of the social responsibility department
within the regional council, “this is an opportunity for dialogue between
circles that do not often come into contact. Although it is chaired by a local
elected representative, it lies outside the institutional framework, and its
members can discuss the real problems.”
Leather goods sector. In response to requests from business
associations, which emphasised that socially responsible approaches could entail
significant costs for SMEs in terms of training and internal restructuring, the
regional council covers 50% of the costs of obtaining SA 8000 certification. In
April 2004, the Regional Ethical Committee also commissioned a survey of the 48
certified enterprises, focusing on their practices in relation to globalisation.
“The aim is to ascertain whether subcontractors in ‘at-risk’ countries uphold
human rights,” says Antonella Turci.
Lastly, in 2005, the Regional Ethical Commission launched a pilot project for
the 619 Tuscan enterprises in the leather goods sector, in which working
conditions are similar to those found in the textile industry: that is,
difficult. Information and training sessions on social and environmental
responsibility are to be held in 30 municipalities, bringing together, for the
first time, such diverse players as the labour inspectorate, religious
communities, immigrants’ associations and environmental NGOs.
The association responsible for implementing Agenda 21 in the town of Spiez is
about to publish a recipe book based on seasonal local produce. The publication
follows on from a three-year project: each month, the association suggested
recipes to food shops and hotels in the town. These recipes, classified
according to the four seasons, are now being recorded, highlighting the culinary
heritage of the Spiez area. “The book encourages sustainable cuisine and
presents the area as an attractive tourist destination”, says co-ordinator Annina Kramer. The local printing house, Weber AG, is contributing to the
project by assisting with layout. The project, which has a budget of around
22,800 euros, has also received financial support from Spiez Aktiv, a body
bringing together public and private players seeking to enhance the region. The
book, which will run to between 112 and 128 pages and cost 25 Swiss francs
(about 16 euros), is to come out in September 2005, and will be distributed in
the Spiez area.
Since 1995, the annual Saint-Gallen market has sold ecological and fair trade
products to responsible customers. This project was launched by the municipal
environment department as part of the city’s Agenda 21 programme. A platform,
named Ökomarkt after the annual market, brings together businesses and
associations offering their products and services, along with the environment
department within the Saint-Gallen municipal council.
The platform manages the project and organises the markets, which feature food,
clothing, toys, crafts and information stands, including a stand for the Clean
Clothes Campaign. In order to take part, businesses and associations must
satisfy a number of social and economic criteria set by the platform, or boast
seals of approval or ecological certification.
The market has a budget of 14,000 Swiss francs (9,000 euros); the project is
funded from grants and fees paid by participants, ranging from 32 to 64 euros. Ökomarkt made a small profit in 2004, which will be reinvested in the
organisation of the next market in 2005.