UN declaration on better product information

Conscious citizens and companies wish to know what is in their food, how sustainable products are and how they are made. This requires better access to product information. For this reason, Ministers and representatives from 50 countries called on the business community today to be clearer about their production processes. The Dutch city of Maastricht is hosting a UN conference on environmental information this week, chaired by State Secretary Mansveld (Infrastructure and the Environment).

In addition to better product information, the participants in the UN conference are calling for greater protection for whistle-blowers and environmentalists who report environmental abuses. They also want to increase the use of social media to make environmental information accessible. Lung patients, for example, benefit from smartphone apps that can measure air quality. This allows them to ascertain whether it is safe for them to stay in a particular environment or whether they should take additional medication. The agreements reached by the participants in the UN conference have been recorded in the Maastricht Declaration.

State Secretary Mansveld: 'Authorities and companies sometimes perceive articulate and well-informed citizens as being "troublesome". That is not how I see things. In my opinion, sustainable and transparent entrepreneurship makes companies stronger. They score better among consumers, producers and authorities without having to fear "naming and shaming" or claims for damages.'

In 1998, the UN Treaty of Aarhus was signed. This is an international convention focused on access to environmental information, public participation and access to the courts concerning environmental affairs. In Maastricht, representatives of 50 countries, environmental organisations, companies, agricultural organisations, universities and international organisations will be discussing the implementation of the treaty this week. Today, the Maastricht recommendations on promoting effective public participation in decision-making were adopted. This guide, with its recommendations, supports administrators as they seek to involve the public in environmental issues.