Who is GEN and why the world needs us
The Global Ecolabelling Network (GEN) is the leading network of the world’s most credible and robust ecolabels. We are a non-profit organisation and together we set the global benchmark for ecolabel excellence.
Purchasing a product certified by a GEN ecolabel member is a vote for the right kind of future- a future where care for people and planet is embedded into everything we make, do and consume.
Why do we need GEN?
“Greenwash is the enemy of a sustainable future. This is how we fight it.”
GEN helps decision makers avoid greenwash. So it’s important we define it.
Greenwash is inaccurate or exaggerated environmental claims. This can include distracting from significant environmental issues by focusing on only a small aspect of a product’s impact. It’s like celebrating LED lights at a petrol station.
In contrast to labels that certify only a subset of environmental considerations, our member’s ecolabels look at the full spectrum of environmental impacts across a product’s entire lifecycle- and often social impacts too.
Our mission – what we do:
“We exist to make lifecycle environmental performance a non – negotiable in every purchaser decision.”
GEN brings knowledge and expertise on ecolabels so we can all buy better. Whether you are a consumer or a procurer, our purchasing decisions impact all people and our planet.
In order to achieve this we need to embed true life cycled ecolabels into every major purchasing decision. We work with all buyers including consumers, businesses and government procurement bodies.
Why are we a member based mission organisation?
The world’s most rigorous ecolabels are even stronger as a collective.
Our members amplify each other’s positive impact, through our sharing of knowledge, networks and resources.
Our international community of established members also co-create and share their excellence in knowledge and resources to accelerate real world change.
Our members also drive mutual recognition, growing sustainable solutions for goods and services regionally, for a solution globally.
Today’s production and consumption choices shape our future.
We see a world with a strong green economy where every purchase nourishes our planet and the people on it.
A world where everything is built, bought, and sold with the impacts on people and the planet in mind along the whole supply chain and beyond.
Everything we do is led by our foundational values.
GEN’s four values based principles are:
- We focus on genuine, real world change. The impact we make must make our world a better place through credible and measurable change.
- We pursue excellence. We set the bar high and we will continue to raise itPursing excellence
- We commit to and maintain high levels of integrity integrity
- We are stronger together. Working together to be stronger such as sharing wisdom and experiences of our members and global networks.
Our Theory of Change
Together, GEN and our members make the complex simple -for governments, business and consumers in order to cut through greenwashing and make better choices for you and me.
We achieve our mission through a commitment to credibility, capability and community.
- We drive best practice for ecolabels and ecolabelling schemes, to deliver impactful solutions across the whole supply chain
- We elevate GEN members and their excellence in ecolabelling on the global stage.
- We work to fight the good fight against greenwash, ensuring transparency and credibility in the marketplace.
“It’s about the purpose.. That your label really makes a difference in the real world” – Soren Enholm, TCO Certified (GEN Member)
- We mentor and support our members to be the best ecolabels they can be
- We advise new and emerging ecolabels around the world in order to grow greater choices in ecolabelled products and services
- We educate governments and businesses to design responsible consumption solutions through the use of ecolabels and prioritising truly sustainable procurement policies
“Our labels make it easy to choose right., We have the competence to translate complex technical issues into a simple label on a product” – Bjorn-Erik Lonn, Former Chair of GEN
- We celebrate and communicate our care and commitment to our vision and mission
- We foster networking and knowledge- sharing opportunities amongst members, partners and supporters
- We connect with key stakeholders in order to join up information for action across supply chains
“GEN is a community for ecolabels. It’s about sharing knowledge” – Yulia Gracheva, Ecological Union (GEN Members)
How does GEN Function?
GEN membership – how GEN membership works – levels of membership
GEN Full and Associate members offer certified green products and services. They operate Type 1 ecolabelling programmes and develop standards in an open, public, and transparent process.
GEN Full members run an ISO 14024 ecolabelling scheme and have successfully completed GENICES- our peer review assessment. ( see below)
Associate members are on the way to becoming a full member. They run an ecolabelling scheme and cover full aspects of the life cycle but have yet to complete GENICES.
And last but not least, we have our affiliate members.
They are supportive partners and organisations that believe and share in our mission but do not run an ecolabelling scheme themselves.
They are an important part of our ecosystem and theory of change.
There are five roles that Full and Associate GEN Members must fulfil in order to fulfill the GEN requirements. They are:
- Set and publish environmental criteria
- Certify products and services with lower environmental impact than comparable products/services
- Provide information, advice and technical assistance to organisations contemplating or developing ecolabelling programmes
- Disseminate information to the public
- Represent the interests of ecolabelling in various international meetings and events
Local and regional conditions do create differences in criteria and product categories among the membership however, all ISO 14024 standards or criteria address multiple environmental attributes and address key issues such as toxicity, air quality, energy use, recyclability, VOCs, carcinogens and other concerns.
Our members use life cycle thinking to develop standards which minimise environmental impacts across the whole entire life cycle of a product or service, from raw material extraction right through to use and eventual disposal or breakdown.
Have you heard of circular economy solutions? Ecolabelling delivers just that.
GEN Brief History:
1994 – Eco labellers from USA, Canada Chinese Taipei, Thailand, Sweden and Japan meet to formulate a network concept
2004 – GENICES peer review scheme is created
2012 – 60% of member achieve GENICES verification
2013- ¼ of million products world wide are GEN member certified
2015 – GEN begins to work with the International organisation for Standardisation to update the requirements for Lifecyle ecolabels
2016 – GEN establishes official affiliate memberships with leading values-aligned organisations
2020 – Adjusted life to online.
2021 – GEN has 27 fully accredited members across the globe
2022 – GEN collaborated with United Nations Ecolabelling Programme to create an updated version of the ecolabelling training.