Union of EcoDesigners Declaration (April, 2001)

It is around 40 years since Dr. Rachel Carson sounded the alarm about the earth's environment in her book, Silent Spring, and around 30 years since the Club of Rome gave its pessimistic report on the limitations of the earth's resources. During this period, we humans have been so busy demanding convenience and comfort that we have not listened to these warnings, we have averted our eyes from the gravity of the problem, unceasingly constructing a society which sustains high-volume production, consumption and waste. And then in the 1990s, we began to realise that our own actions had cornered us to the extent that, 'for the first time in human history, we are affecting whether future generations will be able to continue to live on the earth' (Worldwatch Institute, State of the World 1999 - 2000) and we finally starting talking seriously about global environmental issues. We transitioned from the century of environmental destruction to the century of environmental conservation. Our generation has shouldered the heavy burden of greatly shifting the paradigm in order to achieve a sustainable society.

Having said that, can we minimise economic activity in the extreme and give up the affluence and levels of convenience that we have already achieved? This is an unrealistic ask. What is needed now is a reconciliation between the hitherto conflicting concepts of economy and environment, in other words, we need to achieve fixed economic growth while also thoroughly reducing the consumption of natural resources and energy and the burden on the environment. The techniques and concepts required to solve these difficult problems are in EcoDesign. EcoDesign is a design and production technology that attempts to rapidly enhance environmental performance at all stages in the life cycle from collecting raw materials to production, use, recycling and final disposal and the aim of the EcoDesign technology revolution is to achieve a sustainable society by way of stages including the improvement of manufacturing processes, product optimization and re-design, and complete reformation of product function and social systems.

What is important here is that products, systems and services with EcoDesign are purchased by consumers, government agencies and companies as a priority, in other words, green purchasing. Through this, company activities will begin to have clear ecological incentives and motivation for environmental measures will be enhanced. OECD member countries are already beginning to select and rate companies focusing on the keyword of environment and green purchasing networks are showing a rapid spread. Last year, Japan also established 6 environment-related laws at the same time such as the Basic Law for Establishing the Recycling-based Society which was enforced in April, 2001. Due to this, it is expected that the domestic green market will also expand in a synergistic manner. A society in which products and services that do not consider the environment are already finding it difficult to maintain competitive market strength is right on the horizon.

The construction of a recycling-based society is a current challenge shared by all the people of the world and we have a pressing desire to confront it. In order to overcome the various obstacles in this quest, we must re-design and reform all social activities to be in harmony with the environment. In other words, society itself requires EcoDesign. In order to achieve this, lateral interworking is indispensable across all areas and levels. With this in mind, around 50 domestic academic societies cooperated led by the Science Council of Japan established the Union of EcoDesigners in March, 2000 as a parent organization that promotes the academic aspect of EcoDesign. Of course, our activities are not just limited to Japan, we also have an international outlook. This is because the earth's environment does not have any borders and the people of the earth need to be its citizens, ridding ourselves of the ego the State and working on shared goals in order to save our irreplaceable globe. And our most important mission is, with EcoDesign as our keyword, none other than to strongly back this up academically. (April, 2001)