GEN Activities

1997 GEN Annual Meeting Minutes




Helena Andersson The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation Sweden
Bo Assarsson SIS Eco-labelling Sweden
Eva Eiderström The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation Sweden
Hans Petter Graver Norwegian Foundation for Environmental Labelling Norway
Harald Neitzel Federal Environmental Agency Germany
John Polak TerraChoice Environmental Services Canada
Nevenka Preradovic' State Directorate for Environment Republic of Croatia
Jerry Rendell UK Ecolabelling Board England
Claude Rouam European Commission DG XI Environment European Community
Kerstin Sahle'n SIS Eco-labelling Sweden
Hiroyuki Sato GEN-GAO Japan
Jose' L Tejera AENOR Spain
Tove Tronstad Norwegian Foundation for Environmental
Arthur Weissman Green Seal USA
Ning Yu EDF Taiwan
Asep Sugih Suntana Indonesian Eco-labelling Working Group Indonesia
Roman Vyhna' nek Czechia Environment Center Czechia
Leyva Guadalupe National Institute of Ecology Mexico
Rosamina Mustafa SIRIM Quality Assurances Services Malaysia
Masaaki Sakurai Japan Environment Association Japan
Hiroko Mizuno Japan Environment Association (GAO) Japan
Noriko Karaki Environment Agency of Japan Japan
Miho Monsho Environment Agency of Japan Japan
Pongvipa Lohsomboon Thailand Environment Institute Thailand
Eleanor Thomson New Zealand Embassay (on behalf of
International Accreditation New Zealand, ianz)
New Zealand
Young-Min Paek Korea Environment Labelling Association Korea
Shmuel Brenner Ministry of the Environment Israel
Seiji Taguchi Japan Environment Association Japan
Shigeyuki Hashizume Japan Environment Association Japan
Carmen Longa Virasoro ADEGA Argentine


6 Associate Membership of GEN
The decision was that GEN would not accept associate membership today, but will start developing criteria for associate membership, which will be presented later during the year. If the ExCom will accept these criteria, they might be balloted before the next annual meeting.

7 GEN Handling Member Issues
The proposal made by the GEN secretariat was discussed and after modifying point 4 and point 6 according to the following, it was approved:
0 Opening of the Meeting
Mr. Hashizume, JEA, host and Mr. Weissman, chair, opened the meeting.

1 Introduction
The participants presented themselves and the organisations they represented.

2 Approval of Agenda
The agenda was approved with an additional issue initiated by Germany about the 20 year anniversary of the German ecolabel scheme.

Mr Tejera, Mr Assarsson and Mr Weissman were appointed to check the minutes.

3 Approval of Minutes from the last Annual Meeting
No objections were raised concerning the minutes from the Sao Paulo-meeting.

4 Membership Status
The prospective new members informed the participants of their ecolabelling systems. A question arose in the meeting whether there are more prospective members?

5 Approval of New Members
Four organisations had applied for GEN membership:
  • Environmental Choice New Zealand, New Zealand, contact person: Marje Russ
  • Federal Environmental Agency, Germany, contact person: Harald Neitzel
  • Korea Environmental Labelling Association, Korea, contact person: Paek, Young Min
  • The Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, Sweden, contact person: Eva Eiderström

The full membership approved the new members. With these new members, GEN has 18 members.
space 4) If ExCom regards the issue as important, it shall be handled by the full membership either at the annual meeting or by mail.
6) If more than one member put forward the same issue for the full membership consideration, it should automatically be considered by the full membership either at the annual meeting or by mail.

8 Technical Assistance Program
The members approved the proposal. The proposal implies that GEN pays for the travel cost for the trainee, the established organisation for the salary and the receiver for the local expenses.

9 Report of Pilot Technical Assistance Program
Ms.Yu, EDF, reported on the pilot project EDF performed together with. Norway earlier this year. Both organisations have had positive benefit from the project. Half of the costs were paid by GEN, half by EDF.

10 Expanding the Technical Assistance Program in 1998
Members approved expanding the possibility for technical assistance by expanding the budget for this item.


11 Status of GEN Home Page
Mr. Sato informed about the updated home page. Information members want to get on the home page should be sent to GAO by mail or diskette, not by fax or paper copies. For some reason it has been difficult to make links direct to the different home pages.

There was also a discussion if the full criteria or only summaries should be available on the web. The majority considered that the full criteria is needed as the target group are the producers and also that the criteria should be translated to English. It is voluntary to make summaries of the criteria as a complement. Members also approved publishing a list of criteria categories for each member program in the newsletter or in a special publication.

Mrs Eiderströ was appointed to support GAO as special advisor concerning the home pages and its lay out.

12 GEN Position Paper on Ecolabelling and Mutual Recognition
The meeting discussed the need of updating the GEN position paper on ecolabelling and mutual recognition. To prepare the new position, an ad hoc committee was appointed, consisting of: Mr Assarsson (chair), Mr Neitzel, Mrs Yu, Mr Rendell, Mr Tejera, Mr Polak, Mr Brenner and Mr Hashizume.

The options, proposed by the ad hoc committee:
space 1 First step
Co-operation and interchange of information including policy objectives
2 Second step
Mutual confidence in organisations established by the following requirements:
  • follow ISO 14 024
  • implementation of ISO 9001
  • follow rules of GEN
  • to have codes of good practice

3 Third step
Mutual recognition of testing arrangements
Mutual recognition of assessment procedures
4 Fourth step
Analysis of ecological criteria
- If criteria are the same
  • Mutual recognition
- If criteria are different
  • Initiate study of equivalence in terms of
    - (i) environmental impact
    - (ii) programme credibility

The meeting accepted the proposed options. In order to prepare an action plan concerning Mutual Recognition and Equivalency for GEN, a working group was appointed, consisting of Dr Brenner, Mr Polak, Mr Assarsson, Mr Weissman and Mr Tejera (chair). The working group has not the power to allocate any resources and the decisions are taken by the ExCom. The working group reports to the ExCom meeting in December, the ExCom makes a recommendation, which will be sent to the full membership in January by the secretariat.

13 Report of Pilot Mutual Recognition Program
Mrs Yu and Mr Polak reported on the pilot project between ITRI, Taiwan, and TerraChoice, Canada. The work has started with four product groups, waterbased paint, recycled paper, mercury free batteries and watersaving products. The experience is positive and the participating organisations accept each other's testing and certification. The work is going on.

Mr Neitzel informed the members about a study with comparisons between different criteria and organisations made by Denmark, which presented it at a meeting in Den Haag in November 1996. GAO will get a copy of this report from Mr Neitzel and will distribute copies to all members.

14 Feasibility Study for Equivalence
Mr Assarsson reported that the feasibility study of accepting different criteria as equivalent, which was initiated at the annual meeting 1996, has passed its first phase. This first phase costs about 100 000 $ and consists mainly of collecting of data.

The meeting decided that it is necessary to fix the principles for equivalence before the study go further. The meeting also decided that the same working group dealing with the mutual recognition also should prepare a recommendation to the ExCom for these principles and that the study should be stopped while waiting for the ExCom decision.

15 GEN Code of Good Practice
Mr Tejera presented the proposal for GEN Code of Good Practice. In the discussions the need of taking notice of comments from WTO was emphasised.

In order to get a useful Code, the members/observers in the meeting should send their comments to Mr Tejera not later than November 15th. The working group will develop options for consideration by the Executive Committee at its December meeting. Then the members will be provided the options and a recommendation for decision.

The Observer from the European Commission requested that he receive the options for his information.

16 Representation in ISO
The meeting decided to change the 5th and 6th point in the "GEN in ISO"-proposal, page 5 into:
The GEN, through the ExCom Committee, shall provide appropriate position(s)/or the representative(s) to take the word to the ISO meeting(s).
The status for the different ISO standards was given,
14020, the vote on the DIS concludes on October 22 and the next meeting will be held in Madrid in December 1997.
14024, it is almost ready for sending out the DIS and it might be finalised in San Francisco in June 1998. The work might be finalised by the end of 1998. There was a discussion on whether the 14024 document should be a guidance document or a specification standard.

17 Date for next Annual Meeting
Mr Neitzel informed the members about the planned 20th year anniversary for the Blue Angel scheme and proposed that the next annual meeting should take place in Berlin, Germany, in connection with this anniversary. The proposed dates are 29-30 October 1998.

The members voted in favour of the German proposal.

18 Procedures for Executive Committee and Chair Election
To get continuity in the ExCom the secretariat proposed that two members rotate every year in the ExCom Committee. The members accepted the proposal.

The members also agreed to the ExCom proposal to set up a nominating committee.

19 Chair Election
Mr Tejera was unanimously elected as the chair for GEN and the chair change will take place after the Tokyo meeting and workshop.

20 ExCom Election
The ExCom Committee was elected by written procedure and will have the following members:
space Mr Jose Tejera, AFNOR (chair)
Mr Arthur Weissman, Green Seal, (outgoing chair)
Mrs Ning Yu, EDF
Mr Harald Neitzel, Federal Environment Agency
Mr John Polak, TerraChoice Environmental Services
Mr Shigeyuki Hashizume, JEA

21 1997 Financial Report
Mr. Hashizume, JEA, reported on GEN's financial situation. All expenses have not been invoiced yet and some member fees have still not been paid.

22 Approval of 1996 financial audit
The report was presented by Mr. Hashizume, JEA, and the meeting accepted the report.

The members authorised the Executive Committee to appoint the auditor after consultation of all the members.

23 Approval of 1998 work program
The chair presented the ExCom proposal for the work program for next year according to the following,

Technical assistance program Continuity of the programs
Ensure that the programs are strong
Continue to expand the technical systems program 10 000 $ expand to 15 000 $
Specific seminars for detergents or/and paper 10 000 $
Strong work on mutual recognition 10 000 $
Financing participation in the ISO work 10 000 - 15 000 $

The annual meeting accepted this proposed work program.

24 Approval of 1998 budget
The chair presented the ExCom proposal for the budget for next year according to the following,

  kUS $
Income Membership fees 13 full member fees, 13x5 65
1 half fee, 1x1,5 1,5
1 reduced fee, 1x3 3
3 extremely low fee, 3x0,5 1,5
Carry over 1997 40
Total sum 111
Expenses Technical Assistance Program 15
Seminars/Bilateral meetings 10
Mutual recognition/Equivalency 15
ISO Representation 10
Adopt primer 5
Outreach to WTO, etc 5
Updating brochure and other material 1
Tel/Fax 0.5
Postage/Supplies 0.5
GEN Chair 9
Benefits(22%) 1,98
Secretariat Support*1) 25.1
Annual audit 3
Other expenses 2.9
Total sum 104

*1) Additional expenses are that the Japanese government contributes with 100 % to the expenses of GAO. This Japanese contribution is estimated to 50 000 US $. 50 % of the expenses of GEN Secretariat in Sweden is covered by contribution from the European Community and SIS is contributing with the overhead costs, approximately 40 000 respectively 11 500 US $

The members approved the proposed budget for 1998.

25 1998 Membership Fees
Some of the new members cannot afford to pay the annual minimum fee. The ExCom proposed that the fee structure remains the same with the option to request a reduced fee of 1 500 $ and in very special cases, for very low budget organisations, down to 500 $. The organisations have to give budget figures as justification.

The members approved this proposal.

26 Presentation of The Japanese Eco-Mark
Mr Hashizume presented the Japanese ecomark its organisation, and how the criteria development is performed.

27 GEN Participation in Save the Seal Campaign
Mr Weissman informed members about the work going on by the CCC (Consumer Choice Council) which will organise an international meeting about ecolabelling the second quarter next year. Information will be sent by e-mail. Members agreed to co-ordinate with the CCC and to use GEN's outreach program - newsletter, Home Page, expert advice, etc - to support the CCC.

Mrs Eiderstom informed members that the detergent industry is planning to start their own environmental labelling emphasising consumer behaviour rather than products contents. This labelling will start in October and the test country is Sweden. Something similar had also been discussed in UK. Mrs Eiderstom and Mr Rendell will keep in touch concerning the intention of this industrial project.

28 GEN Application Forms
This item will be handled by the Executive Committee.

29 Battery Criteria of the Nordic Swan
Mr Assarsson informed members that in the Nordic system, there are licenses for both rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries. Criteria for both categories of batteries are being revised. In response to last year's initiative to adopt the Nordic criteria, a number of programs explained that they had difficulty doing so. After some discussion, the members charged the working group on mutual recognition to recommend whether to pursue common criteria and, if so, in what category.

30 Other items
The members accepted the four attached resolutions.

Mr Sato requested members to provide program information for the newspaper in a timely manner.

The meeting adjourned at 3:00 PM

Date: Date:
Artur Weissman
Kerstin Sahlen

space Resolutions:

Resolution 1/97. That the following ecolabel organizations - Korean Environmental Labelling Association (Korea), Federal Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt) (Germany), International Accreditation New Zealand (New Zealand), and Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (Sweden) - be admitted as members of GEN.

Resolution 2/97. That the membership has received the financial report for 1996, and accepts the conclusions and observations in that report.

Resolution 3/97. That the Executive Committee be authorized to appoint the auditor of the financial report for 1997 after consultation of the full members.

Resolution 4/97. That membership fees remain at US $ 5 000 for 1998. If an otherwise eligible applicant is not in a position to pay, the Executive Committee will consider on a case-by-case basis an appropriate lower fee, not less than US $ 1 500, based on sufficient information and justification provided by the applicant. For very low budget programs (generally those with annual budgets no greater than US $ 50 000 and inability to pay), a special lower fee of US $ 500 may be considered.