More and more it feels like our globe is shrinking – and shrinking fast. The global village seems no longer just a buzz word. We now have the ability to travel just about anywhere in less than a day, communicate real time with billions of “connected villagers”, and to trade and to consume products from regions far away. Unfortunately we also have the ability to inflict serious harm to fellow “villagers” located anywhere – exemplified best with carbon emissions and the effects of climate change. But, to me the concept of a global village is mostly a good thing. It enables each one of us to play an active part in creating a livable planet.
One of the “consumer movements” which have developed the last few decades – almost as a countertrend – is a clear wish to know where things come from. Since the 60’s when Japan emerged as an industrial powerhouse and coined its products with “Made in Japan”, normal people, consumer groups, policy makers and businesses have all been focusing on the importance of the ORIGIN.
We no longer take for granted that what we buy and consume is “just OK”. We want proof. We want to know that French Champagne is actually from France, and that paying extra for Fairtrade coffee from Guatemala actually benefit the local farmers. We expect to be able to choose Norwegian salmon, and know from which fjord the salmon was produced. When Europeans buy beef, they don’t want horse meat.
Why is knowing the origin so important? Primarily for two main reasons.
Firstly, it’s about creating the ability to factually describe the content of the product. Who is producing it, and at which location? How is it produced and with what key ingredients? How are the working conditions, or how is the surrounding environment impacted? All key information.
Secondly, it’s all about making educated choices possible. Without “product-facts” on the table, making a choice between two products is not easy. But when real tracking and documentation processes are in place, along with a legal platform to back it, consumers can make real choices. With their choice they can send clear signals to the market and specifically to producers about their preferences.
ECOHZ works in a market long dominated by large utilities selling power. Power was power – only a commodity. There was no focus on the origin of power, only on price. Consequently consumers had few choices.
In 2001 the EU changed that. They created a framework for tracking and documenting power production in Europe. The system was named Guarantees of Origin (GO), and has been rolled out across a number of European countries.
A recent example of how businesses and households make their voice count, is the Norwegian-based cloud-service JottaCloud. It has chosen to have its servers powered by electricity from renewable hydropower. The ORIGIN matters to JottaCloud, and they selected power plants with especially high environmental standards, and having the pan-European label EKOenergy.
In ECOHZ we strongly believe that the ORIGIN MATTERS.