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Development of an African eco-label

initial situation

The African economies are one of the hardest hit by the effects of climate change, such as floods and long periods of drought. For this reason, limiting climate change and adapting to the consequences of climate change are of crucial importance for the African continent. Sustainable production methods are one possibility for this adaptation. The most important economic sectors in African countries, such as agriculture and forestry, offer great potential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, African products must meet the growing consumer demand for sustainable goods and services in order to be successful on the world market. So far, Africa has not taken advantage of these market opportunities.

The introduction of an eco-label for African products would be an effective, market-related instrument to improve access to the world market. It would also promote sustainable consumption habits and production systems. By using ecolabels to label products and services that meet precisely defined environmental and social standards, companies can on the one hand measure their performance in terms of environmental and social compatibility and at the same time convincingly demonstrate and communicate the environmentally friendly properties of their products. Consumers also benefit from an eco-label because they receive more background information and can thus make better purchasing decisions. The ecolabel offers the governments of African countries the opportunity to change the behavior of producers and consumers, which leads to greater sustainability.


Trade opportunities have improved both between African states and between Africa and the rest of the world. African economies are adapting to climate change and helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.


GIZ is working with numerous organizations on the development of sustainability standards, the dissemination of which is to be promoted with the help of certification and a common symbol for African brands - the Eco-Mark Africa (EMA). The African standardization organization ARSO (African Regional Standardization Organization), the African Union Commission, the African Roundtable on Sustainable Consumption and Production, the United's environmental program, are involved in the collaboration Nations (United Nations Environmental Program), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UN Industrial Development Organization), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UN Economic Commission for Africa) and various African regional organizations.

The process for acquiring the African eco-label is designed as a quality assurance system. Standards are currently being set that will help solve ecological, social and climate change problems and enable the introduction of a credible eco-label. Producers who meet the requirements of these standards or the criteria of other standardization systems recognized by the procedure for acquiring the African eco-label are also entitled to use the EMA label.

The eco-label is specially tailored to the needs of the numerous African small producers and small businesses. As part of a capacity building program, producers and service providers are being prepared for the certification process. Producers who have already acquired certification are supported by a benchmarking and recognition process. The fact that the process of acquiring the eco-label reduces the costs of certification and marketing promotes cooperation with other organizations that promote the dissemination of voluntary environmental and social standards.

A uniform, common eco-label, which is awarded on the basis of clear sustainability criteria, strengthens the credibility and awareness of African brands. The better image in turn leads to better market opportunities for African products; at the same time, brands and products are more transparent for consumers.

The three-year development of the African eco-label provides for the following measures:

  • Establishment of an organizational structure for the award of the African eco-label
  • Development of a viable business model so that organization and procedures can get by without financial support
  • Development of comprehensive sustainability standards, which are used to check the extent to which producers meet the criteria of the African eco-label; Development of a system for the recognition and integration of existing sustainability standards for agriculture, forestry, tourism and fishing
  • Capacity building to improve the political framework for standardization systems
  • Formation of a committee of marketing experts from private companies, non-governmental organizations and government agencies to promote the eco-label both regionally and internationally
  • Establishing contacts with national political institutions, regional associations and international organizations that promote sustainable production

Effect - what has been achieved so far

The idea of ​​an African eco-label arose in Africa, and the first steps towards its implementation have already been taken. A broad-based consultation process with all stakeholders has been initiated in order to develop the standards and ensure that the eco-label meets the requirements of the market.