Consumers International calls for multi-stakeholder collaboration to make online shopping more sustainable
Greening e-commerce can shift global consumption patterns towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal 12 and mitigating the impacts of climate change. But collaborative efforts are needed to make it real.
Online shopping has seen widespread growth during the COVID-19 pandemic, with global e-commerce sales expected to reach 4.2 trillion USD this year. As this shift continues, making sure consumers have the information they need to choose sustainable options when shopping online will be key to promoting sustainable consumption patterns globally and supporting the green transition. Collaboration between businesses, policy-makers, and civil society is now critical to make this a reality for consumers everywhere.
In 2022, 62% of consumers say they’re willing to change their purchasing habits to reduce environmental impact. In the minds of the next generation of consumers, sustainable choices are not just the right thing to do, but the thing you want to do. Real-world behaviours, however, are trailing. Even for the most concerned consumers, the gap between intention and action remains high – and may even be widening.
One of the biggest barriers to consumers making sustainable choices is the lack of clear and reliable information on the sustainability impacts of products. Sustainability claims are everywhere in e-commerce settings, but they are too often ambiguous, confusing, or even misleading. This has led to low consumer trust in a ‘greenwashed’ online marketplace, preventing sustainable products from reaching the consumers who want them.
Solutions are starting to emerge in different places. Policy-makers are introducing rules on greenwashing and regulations on online disclosures. E-commerce players are innovating to communicate sustainability benefits to consumers without causing information overload. Civil society organisations are forging new partnerships to protect online consumers and their data. With these efforts combined, we believe stakeholders can shape a future online marketplace that is fairer, safer, and more sustainable for all.
What is the GreEnCommerce project?
At COP26 last year, Consumers International and our Members worldwide called for stakeholders to harness the collective power of consumers to accelerate action against climate change. Now Consumers International is kick-starting a new project – GreEnCommerce – to grasp this opportunity for change. Implemented in partnership with the International Institute for Sustainable Development, the GreEnCommerce project will draw on original research and in-depth stakeholder consultations to formulate pioneering global recommendations for policy-makers and businesses. These will provide clear, evidenced pathways that stakeholders can act on to make sustainable choices easier for consumers online.
The key upcoming milestones for this project are:
- February 2022: Mapping of Consumer Needs & Policies. A comprehensive literature review and legislative mapping across eight different jurisdictions has analysed consumer attitudes, needs and behaviours on sustainability in online settings, and uncovered the potential policy elements and approaches that may be needed to support them. Top-level findings from this research will be shared at a private virtual discussion for leading stakeholders in the lead-up to the Fifth Session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) at the end of February.
- March – April 2022: Building Stakeholder Support. To incorporate the latest and best thinking, and to drive international alignment, a global survey of experts and a series of stakeholder workshops will take place in March and April 2022.
- June 2022: Pathways for Policy and Business. A policy recommendations report will outline the key interventions and approaches governments can take to create a level playing field in environmental claims, and a best practice ‘playbook’ featuring business examples and voluntary commitments will show how online innovations can transform the way consumers receive sustainability information.
GET INVOLVED NOW
Global, multi-stakeholder action is central to creating an online marketplace that is fair, safe, and sustainable for all. Contact Sustainable Consumption Specialist at Consumers International, Oliver Bealby-Wright, to take part in this global initiative. You may be invited to:
- Nominate individuals for the global survey of policy, consumer and industry experts in March (deadline 28 February 2022 for suggestions)
- Participate in multistakeholder policy workshops in April 2022
- Suggest case studies for the best practice playbook
- Collaborate over a public launch during Stockholm+50 in June 2022