India Education Diary, August 24, 2023
Highlighting the crucial significance of G20 consumer summits in proactively addressing consumer protection concerns within the broader landscape of challenges like digital transformation and sustainable transitions, Rebeca Grynspan, Secretary-General of UNCTAD, strongly advocated for a G20 Consumer Summit to occur during Brazil’s upcoming Presidency. She was speaking in the CUTS International organised Global Webinar – “The G20 Championing The Consumer Movement”, supported by UNCTAD.
Vijay K. Nambiar, Principal Coordinator (Sherpa) of Civil20, emphasised that “while consumers play a significant role in economic activity, it’s crucial to remember that the primary goal should be the protection, maintenance, and enhancement of a sustainable quality of life for all. A functional market involves effective collaboration among producers, traders, and consumers. However, global inequalities and vulnerabilities necessitate robust consumer protection measures.”
Pradeep S Mehta, Secretary General of CUTS International, underscored the G20’s evolution from its 1999 inception as a financial discussions platform to becoming a premier forum for international economic cooperation. He emphasised the pivotal shift towards addressing consumer protection. Mehta noted that consumer protection, though discussed within the G20 framework, has fluctuated in importance across summits based on global circumstances. Lately, this focus has diminished. The aim now is to remedy this decline and reinstate consumer protection on the G20 agenda during the upcoming Brazil summit and beyond.
Athayde Motto, Executive Director of the Brazilian Institute for Social and Economic Analyses (IBASE), Brazil opined that consumer protection and citizen rights must be integral to negotiations and a priority. Such policies should strive to diminish global inequality.
Highlighting the necessity to include consumer protection in the next summit’s agenda, Fernando Blanco, Former National Director for Consumer Defence, Argentina expressed that such talks should extend beyond the digital economy, encompassing multiple other issues including uniform standards, food loss, waste, and more.
Igor Rodrigues Britto, Director of International Relations at the Brazilian Institute for Consumer Protection (IDEC), expressed that the collective voice of consumer organisations will resonate when united for consumer protection at the next G20 Summit in Brazil.
These sentiments resonated powerfully during the CUTS Global Webinar, held collaboratively with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on August 23, 2023. The webinar served as a resounding call to action, underscoring the pressing need to prioritise consumer protection within the G20’s framework.
Other speakers included Shirish Deshpande, Chairman of Mumbai Grahak Panchayat (MGP); Thezi Mabuza, Acting Commissioner of the National Consumer Commission, South Africa; Saroja Sundaram, Executive Director of the Citizen Consumer and Civic Action Group (CAG), India; and Dr. Nava Subramaniam, Dean of the School of Business at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Coimbatore.
The webinar concluded with Teresa Moreira, Head of Competition and Consumer Policies at UNCTAD, observing that G20 consumer summits effectively mainstream consumer protection issues within broader G20 discussions. Despite significant challenges, efforts will continue in the years to come, with UNCTAD’s unwavering support.
Notably, the event garnered active participation from over a hundred participants worldwide, engaging in discussions through both the Zoom platform and YouTube Live streaming. The event provided a platform for comprehensive discussions on global consumer protection and advocacy efforts. Participants including media representatives, industry experts, policymakers, and the general public contributed to advancing consumer rights and overall well-being on a global scale.
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