See below for an overview of core sessions we expect to focus on at Congress 2023. Keep an eye on this page as the full programme and speakers will be announced over the coming months.
Serving up a food system that works for people and planet
Enough food is produced to feed the world, yet hundreds of millions of people face severe hunger and 3 billion worldwide cannot afford a healthy diet. At the same time, food systems are responsible for approximately one-third of greenhouse gas emissions. Amidst inflated food prices our food systems need urgent reform to ensure all have access to affordable, sustainable and healthy food.
There is growing momentum behind the call for food systems transformation, but this needs to radically reshape how we distribute and consume food. How can the consumer movement help build food systems for people and planet? What good practice business models and collaborations currently exist? With leaders from international agencies, government and business we discuss how we can work better together and transform the system.
Fostering channels of change towards fair digital finance
Two thirds of us use digital finance worldwide and revenue in the sector is projected to reach US$15 trillion by 2027. Innovative finance models have given us greater choice and transparency, but we are more prone to risks as regulation has lagged behind. Data privacy, fraud and other risks abound. Research released this year saw 87% mark data privacy as a basic human right, yet 68% said they don’t trust companies to protect their data.
More players are now involved in the finance system and they all have a responsibility to protect consumers. To bridge gaps between different actors, a powerful network of consumer advocates has emerged worldwide to engage providers and regulators, amplify the concerns of consumers and map out what needs to be done to avoid risk. This session hears from that network alongside regulators and providers on what they have learnt, put in practice and will change to provide a safe, inclusive and data protected financial marketplace.
Consumer empowerment and protection - a catalytic solution to a clean energy future
In 2022 consumer advocates around the world shared the extent of rising prices for consumers. A staggering 1/5 reported energy price increases of more than 100%. This year Consumers International responded by convening a powerful coalition of global leaders for World Consumer Rights Day to focus on how consumer rights can catalyse a just and clean energy transition.
Evidence shows the fundamental role consumers will play in a successful clean energy transition – but they need adequate protection to make this a reality. We look at how consumer and civil society groups have been engaging policy makers to advance clean energy transitions. We pose critical questions to government and business – how have they taken onboard civil society insights to help consumers through the crisis? What more must they do?
Making sustainable lifestyles the norm
Global consumer insights released in early 2023 saw 65% of respondents mark climate change as a “very serious” issue. Increasingly more want to make sustainability a part of their lifestyles yet there is a say-do gap in practice.
Our dialogue will explore how to advance more sustainable decisions across all aspects of our lifestyles – the transport we use, the homes we live in, the food we buy. We dive into contextual differences – how can vulnerable, urban or next generation consumers in different parts of the world be better supported by business and government to live more sustainably? We pinpoint positive examples of new business models and approaches that work in different settings which can build consumer trust and resilient economies.
Driving a fair compact in the digital economy
The digital economy is increasingly the economy. Innovation in how we buy has given us access to exciting new technologies and platforms, but new risks exist in how we are protected in a borderless digital world. Actions can be celebrated and built on - policymakers are recognising the imperative for action, local policy and practices have been established in several regions, and global dialogues on trade and development offer a route for greater cooperation on digital issues.
To ensure that people’s interests are adequately represented in global digital policy, a better framework is needed for consumer protection. In this session we call for commitments to be made at the highest level and consumer concerns prioritised. Privacy, data, trust and other consumer issues must be built in at the outset.
We explore the following questions:
- What are the risks of fragmented approaches?
- Are existing international frameworks helping?
- Can we learn anything from governance applied offline?
- How can consumer advocacy help?
Why trust is queen in our digital marketplace
Nineteen percent of countries around the world do not have e-transaction laws, and 41% lack online consumer protection frameworks. Without adequate protection measures, distrust in the online marketplace continues - one in four globally do not trust the internet, and the majority of these cite scams, surveillance and e-commerce platforms as the main factors behind their mistrust.
We bring together policymakers, businesses and consumer groups to focus on the collaborative action we need to foster trust, enhance data protection and strengthen redress mechanisms in online environments. We share latest insights from our work and unite leaders around a joint statement for change.
Consumer20: How consumer rights can benefit the G20
The Group of Twenty (G20) countries represents 85% of global GDP, over 75% of global trade and two-thirds of the world's population. Yet, since 2019 consumer rights and consumer policy has not been effectively included in the G20 decisions which shape our world.
How can we bring consumer rights – for digital policy, sustainable consumption, fair trade and more - to the table under the leadership of the G20 in Brazil and South Africa? We look at the successful ways consumer advocates have influenced discussions previously and how consumer advocates can help support working groups – those fundamental to influencing G20 decision makers.
Calling for marketplace change to protect and empower gender
According to some estimates, we are 135 years away from reaching gender equality. What does gender inequality look like in the marketplace? Women have the majority percentage of all purchasing globally, whether buying power or influencing purchasing decisions, however, the marketplace fails to account for women's specific needs and empowerment. In fact, the marketplace is perpetuating harmful gender norms through advertising, limited equality in finance, and women are put at risk of harm through toxic chemicals in menstrual products and badly-designed products.
Together with women’s advocates from across civil society, business and government, we address the unique opportunity of incorporating a gender lens into consumer protection frameworks and action. We look at core marketplace phenomena. Concerning pink-tax - why are women paying more? Fem-washing - why are women being exploited? Products – why are they still being designed without a gender lens?
A deeper shade of green: What are the best methods to see credible sustainability claims?
The International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network suggests that around 40% of business sustainability claims could be misleading. It is no wonder then, that recent insights show 60% of consumers have lost trust in information provided by companies.
This calls for urgent action. Providing ‘adequate information’ to consumers is an essential consumer right to help consumers make better choices. Consumer trust is also key to delivering a green transition. Up to 70% of greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced through consumer action according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
In this session we look at how to drive the uptake of credible green claims, we highlight best practice as well as the more shocking. We look at how to build on current progress, and how consumer advocates can add significant value to a new multistakeholder alliance formed to address green claims.
Aligning our accounts with our values
When you think about the sustainability of your purchases does banking come to mind? You are not in the minority if you answered no. Yet financial consumption choices often have a big impact on the environment – 35% of the world's major banks have provided US$2.7 trillion to fossil fuel companies since 2015.
Greater awareness among consumers can help, but given the complexities found in the finance sector, there is a strong argument that ‘bad choices’ should simply be removed from the marketplace. What are the implications of that argument? We bring together different opinions on what’s needed to ensure sustainable finance, including core trade-offs, their socio-economic implications.
Are product safety pledges working?
Most consumers believe that shopping online is safe, and that product safety is enforced as much as in traditional markets. However, shopping online currently carries a new level of risk for consumers, particularly where consumers are not equipped to evaluate the safety of each individual product they buy online.
Whether sold on or offline, all products must enforce consumer protection. Consumers need to feel confident in trusting the products and services they buy are safe. Pledges have been established in different parts of the world to do just this. But how effective are these pledges? We discuss with those key to establishing commitments and map out what a global product safety pledge could look like.
Trust by design to advance safe, affordable and sustainable mobility
The world is going through a mobility revolution. Headlines tend to focus on the shift from the internal combustion engine (ICE) to electric vehicles (EV) but other options such as lift sharing, public transport, cycling and walking are increasingly being turned to.
In this session we look at the different options and solutions available to consumers relevant to national and local level contexts. There are significant benefits to adopting a consumer rights lens in system design and deployment. We look at examples of best practice which can inform electric vehicle shifts and help design effective urban transport systems.
The impact of ChatGPT for consumers
Generative artificial intelligence (AI) is available to consumers in multiple forms, including text, image, video and audio production. The technology’s ability to resemble content made by people is staggering: research shows that most people cannot accurately distinguish between human-made and AI-made content, especially in language generation.
Generative AI could revolutionise how businesses interact with consumers. It could empower individuals to seek redress for problems in new and efficient ways. At the same time, it has potential to weaken consumer trust if used by companies without adequate redress. It could also create a false perception on the accuracy and reliability of information.
In this session we explore the trade-offs that must be considered as generative AI develops. We dive into key regulation risks, how the consumer movement can support better action that protects people and the value of the consumer voice in global AI debate.
the transformative power of innovative regulation
Regulatory Technology (RegTech) has seen substantial growth in recent years due to the rising cost of compliance, risks in the digital finance marketplace and the need for faster regulation, policy, business solutions and legal frameworks that protect consumers. The global RegTech market is expected to grow to US$19.5 billion by 2026 – through big data, cloud computing, machine learning and more.
The session will share insights on the emerging and the most interesting RegTech solutions globally and explore how innovative RegTech tools have helped regulators and policymakers understand and design consumer centric policies and regulations. We will share our top asks to ensure RegTech strategies of the future deliver positive outcomes and meet challenges in the digital finance sector.
Redefining consumer journeys in mobile money
Advances in mobile technology have opened new opportunities. Mobiles are now a primary means of communication and a platform for a range of applications. Mobile money services have grown rapidly – there are now 1.2 billion registered mobile money accounts worldwide. This has brought many opportunities in innovation and provided the bedrock to livelihood security in emerging economies.
We look at where the rise of mobile money began – in Kenya – the opportunities provided by mobile money there and elsewhere, and what’s needed to build on that success story and now address increasing risks seen in the sector. We explore core questions. How can we continue to build regulatory frameworks and business action that modernises the mobile money system? How can we advance gender equality in mobile money use? How can the system deliver consumer safety in mobile money nationally, regionally and globally?
Alternative lending: Tracking the user journey to help consumers
The COVID-19 Pandemic and the digitalisation of the finance sector has accelerated alternative lending schemes, with thousands of products tailored for instant purchasing. Lending schemes such as Buy Now Pay Later have taken market prominence with the scheme’s expected market size anticipated to surpass US$ 9,2 billion by 2032.
These alternative lending options create opportunities for both consumers and lenders through increased cart value and higher conversion rates for sellers. However, these innovative models present risks that vulnerable consumers often overlook and over commit themselves to, leading to financial difficulties and over indebtedness.
In this dialogue, we look at how the digital consumer journey can be tracked to ensure good outcomes within alternative lending models. We share actionable steps that need to be taken to mitigate consumer risks within these solutions.