The UNEP Advertising and Communication Forum was created so that the media, advertising and marketing sectors and the UN could work together to raise general awareness on sustainable consumption, use communication skills and techniques to promote sustainable consumption patterns, promote products, services and campaigns that foster sustainable consumption and pursue the best practice in environmental management. They also wish to inform and inspire each other through workshops, meetings, publications and websites.
At the Commission on Sustainable Development Rio+5 Earth Summit, in 1997, governments wanted “to encourage business, the media, advertising and marketing sectors to help shape sustainable consumption patterns” and formed the UNEP Advertising and Communication Forum to do so.
The advertising sector (advertisers, advertising agencies & the media) can have a significant influence over consumers. Thus, by utilising its talents and communication skills the advertising sector may not only make its messages more effective, but also help shift consumption patterns even more towards sustainability.
Offering greener products and services to the market will aim to:
• Enhance brand image
• Spur innovation
• Increase revenue and market share
Promoting green marketing and communicating on the sustainable consumption facets of a product or service offer opportunities for creating business value, since consumers become more aware of the environmental impacts related to the consumption of specific products.
Companies are increasingly aware that a strong eco-performance associated with good reporting and communication could generate a competitive advantage. There will be advantages for agencies in understanding sustainability issues and in becoming expert in articulating them to different target markets. Furthermore, governments, NGOs and international organisations need to communicate on environmental issues like energy savings, water use or waste recycling, but also on social issues such as child labour, human rights or, more generally, on quality of life. They are increasingly demanding good expertise from agencies in the sometimes difficult area of delivering these messages.
Since 1999, UNEP has developed partnerships with several organisations, in order to spread information on sustainable issues among the advertising sector and benefit from their regular input in its activities related to advertising and communication, including The European Association of Communication Agencies, The World Federation of Advertisers, McCann-Erickson Europe (a part of McCann Worldgroup), and Unilever.