Helping East African exporters meet carbon retail standards
More than 40 representatives of the agro-food and flower sectors in East Africa will meet in Nairobi next month to discuss how to manage new carbon retail standards.
The two-day workshop (4–5 May) will provide essential information on the development of carbon footprints and the methods for measuring and reporting emissions. Participants will also consult on regional needs for the new ISO standard and address trade opportunities and challenges for the East African Community (EAC).
The EAC relies heavily on agro-industry exports but the introduction of carbon labelling poses potential non-tariff barriers to exporters. The cost of gathering data and the time and effort needed to learn about the methods can be major challenges.
The International Trade Centre (ITC), in partnership with the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) and the Swedish Institute of Standards (SIS) and in collaboration with the Kenya Fresh Produce Association of Exporters (FPEAK), is organizing the event to respond to these challenges. The event is supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), and the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) through the ITC Trade, Climate Change and Environment Programme.
The workshop will bring together government institutions, development organizations, private sector and business associations, and the agro-industry, with regional and international experts.
Aicha A. Pouye, Director of ITC’s Division of Business and Institutional Support, will take part in the workshop. She said: “ITC believes that understanding how environmental issues impact trade is now critical for the success of our beneficiary countries. In particular minimizing potential non-tariff barriers in trade, such as carbon standards, and maximizing opportunities presented by environmental markets, such as high-value food products and low-carbon technologies.”
SIS Managing Director, Lars Flink, commented: “This event is a first important step involving stakeholders from the EAC region that will have a substantial influence on the development of the ISO standard on carbon footprints. Our aim is to launch a long-term project to build capacity in the region to prepare for the adoption of international environmental standards.”
There are concerns that current carbon standards result in unfavourable ratings for produce from developing countries. Stephen Mbithi, FPEAK’s Chief Executive Officer, is keen to address this. “The horticulture industry in Kenya and in Africa in general, aims to use this workshop to expand knowledge on the ISO standard on carbon footprints,” he said. “We intend to inform our consumers worldwide why growing crops in the tropics is good for the environment.”
KEBS Director of Standards Development and International Trade,Evah Oduor, said ‘The workshop will provide opportunity for stakeholders to understand the new ISO standards on carbon footprints and therefore participate effectively in the development of the international standard with a view to creating positive change in the people’s daily lives’.
Following the workshop, ITC experts will interview key stakeholders of the agro-food sector to assess how to assist exporters in meeting carbon retail standards.
ITC is planning to roll out this pilot to several other countries in 2010–2011. In February, at the World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade and Environment Committee meeting, ITC received a number of official requests for technical assistance on carbon standards.