Green Action Fund 2015
Consumers International's (CI) Fundraising Officer Steven Hawkes looks back on the 2015 Green Action Week campaigns and reflects on the diverse activities and results that were achieved by CI Members from across the world.
The Green Action Fund is a collaborative project by CI and the to promote safe and sustainable food in the Global South.
Each year, CI Members are given the opportunity to apply for a small grant to carry out awareness and advocacy activities under the theme ‘safe and sustainable food for all’. Utilising their local expertise and networks, CI Members promote local, practical solutions to global consumer issues.
CI and SSNC support participants with funding (made available by SSNC), materials, research and policy support, and joint-campaign communications. Being part of a wider thematically coordinated campaign strengthens local messages, gives campaigns added credibility, and ultimately increases impact.
In 2015 more consumer organisations took part than ever before, with 20 campaigns across 16 countries over three continents (ten in Africa, seven in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East, and three in Latin America).
Lembaga Konsumen Yogyakarta (LKY) in Indonesia reported: “This programme is very strategic for women farmer groups and consumer groups especially on increasing their quality of life. By developing and spreading it, we are convinced that food consumption patterns can be improved. Green Action Week is very important and relevant to be developed in the future.”
Highlights from GAF 2015
Increased consumer awareness:
- In India, Consumer Education and Research Society (CERC) produced a guidebook to inform consumers about sustainable food and help them make healthier food choices. The guide has been shared free of charge with CERC members and supporters, the media, consumer organisations, regulatory authorities and government, NGOs, libraries and schools.
- In Kenya, Youth Education Network (YEN) educated young consumers in schools on sustainable food and health, reaching over 1,500 people. Their families showed appreciation to YEN’s efforts and reported being more confident giving money to their children as they thought they would make healthier food choices. Teachers agreed that healthy eating was integral to learning and fully supported the project. The campaign was aired on a radio news bulletin that has an audience of 3 million listeners.
- In Burundi, Association Burundaise des Consommateurs (ABUCO) carried out awareness-raising activities with consumers and farmers, including two educative interactive public theatre pieces and presentations to over 500 school students. The campaign was supported by representatives from the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, and featured on the most-listened to radio station in Burundi.
- In Ecuador, Tribuna Ecuatoriana de Consumidores y Usarios held practical workshops in neighbourhoods of Quito with producers and consumers on sustainable consumption and healthy food. 310 people attended, around 80% of who were women. They also held a fair on sustainability and had stalls over five days at a location where organic products were sold (Bio Fairs), reaching over 450 people.
Commitment from government and other key stakeholders
- In Cape Verde, Associação para Defesa do Consumidor (ADECO) trained 39 customs officials to be more aware of the regulation of pesticides - this was the first time they had participated in training on this. Officials are now more knowledgeable of the regulations regarding the entry, sale and use of pesticides. Authorities at the highest level recognised the campaign and it was discussed in two meetings of the National Council for Food and Nutritional Security, chaired by the Rural Development Minister who congratulated ADECO on the initiative.
- In Pakistan, The Network for Consumer Protection focused on influencing policy-makers, government and other civil society organisations. They were successful in spreading the message that organic food was no longer just an awareness issue but a policy and regulatory matter. At the advocacy seminar, policy-makers agreed on the need to ban around 450 particularly hazardous pesticides (although concrete action is yet to be taken) and the need for a cost-effective local certification body which can be utilised by small-scale farmers.
- Yemen Association for Consumer Protection (YACP) carried out a survey of pesticides in Yemen, finding that many internationally banned substances (such as DDT) are still being sold along with many expired pesticides. Following this, YACP held a policy workshop with specialists from the Ministry of Agriculture, Agricultural Associations, and Women’s Association, to formulate recommendations for improved oversight of pesticide sales.
- In Rwanda, Rwanda Consumer’s Rights Protection Organization (ADECOR) advocated for an increase in budget allocation for organic farming and natural pest control with the Parliament and a number of government authorities. Follow-up meetings have been scheduled and ADECOR report that the Rwanda Standards Board and Ministry of Health understood the need to start testing the impact that pesticides have on health and soil degradation. ADECOR was invited to be a part of the team for inspection on quality and standards.
CI is delighted to partner with its Members and SSNC for the Green Action Fund campaign and looks forward to further collaboration in 2016, fighting for the right to safe and sustainable food for all consumers.