WORLD CONSUMER RIGHTS DAY, 2019.
15th of March is World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD), which is an occasion for celebration and solidarity within the international consumer movement. World Consumer Rights Day actively encourages the basic rights of all consumers, demanding that those rights are respected and protected, and to protest against the market abuses and social injustices that undermine those rights. This day was first celebrated in 1962 when the then American President, John F. Kennedy gave an overall structure to the consumer rights. He was the first world leader to aim a vision of consumer rights and also identify the importance of consumers as a group. In 1962, there were four consumer rights which included; the Right to Safety, Right to be Informed, Right to Choose and the Right to be heard. By 1985, the United Nations added other four rights to protect consumers and they included; the Right to Redress, Right to Satisfaction of Basic needs, Right to consumer Education and Right to Healthy Environment. All together we have eight consumer rights today.
Today, Green Cameroon joins the rest of the international community to celebrate World Consumer Rights Day under the theme “Trusted Smart Products” with emphasis on the Rights to Satisfaction of Basic needs and Right to a Healthy Environment which are directly related to the activities of the organization.
To begin with the Right to a Healthy Environment, this has been one of the most important problems of our societies today because of human activities which have an impact on the fragile balance between man and the environment in which they live in. This right therefore considers the impact on nature due to policies, products and services. In many countries including Cameroon, the problem is serious because so many people suffer from environmental damage such as chemical pollution, noise, ecosystems degradation, because they don’t know they have the right to live in a healthy environment. Green Cameroon has been involved over the years to awaken the minds of Cameroonians in particular and the world at large to be able to exercise their rights, to enforce and respect it, to have access to environmental education through its Green Schooling Projects, and to access justice in environmental matters. As the population of the world continues to rapidly grow, so does the use of hazardous chemicals and the potential for the contamination of our drinking water supplies. Also, poor waste disposal in the environment by industries and households leads to adverse health effects on the consumers and therefore denies them of the right to a healthy environment.
Furthermore, the Right to Basic needs explains all consumers have right to suitable access to necessary goods and services such as food, cloth, shelter, health care, sanitation and education. This means that consumers are accountable for presiding over their own consumption, so as not to impinge upon others receiving the same basic need. To this effect, consumers in their quest to satisfy their basic needs have altered the natural environment in several ways which are unfavourable. In their activities of agriculture, shelter provision, they have resorted to deforestation by felling down huge amounts of tree species at an alarming rate which causes desertification, the bush burning practices which lead to carbon dioxide and aerosols emission into the atmosphere leading to global warming and climate change. Cognizant of these phenomena, Green Cameroon has embarked over time into a number of sensitization campaigns and projects such as Green Tree Campaign whereby a large number of trees have been planted in several communities to help protect the environment and reduce the adverse effect of climate change. Also the organization has been instrumental in providing alternative sources of income to the communities such as poultry and pig farming, all in an attempt to discourage hunting and poaching so as to preserve our rich biodiversity.
Finally, in order for consumers to effectively exercise their rights, there should be the protection of consumers by rules that fall under the scope of environmental regulations. Also, strategies of improving environmental health need to include the particular circumstances of each locality and companies producing the goods and services consumed by the population should incorporate environmental policies into their system. This will go a long way to give priority to a healthy environment which is one of the consumer rights.
Let’s all join Green Cameroon to celebrate this World Consumer Rights Day and be informed about the importance of our rights as consumers especially the right to a healthy environment so that we can become sustainable consumers. Like Deepak Chopra said; “You can’t make positive choices for the rest of your life without an environment that makes those choices easy, natural, and enjoyable”.
“Your environment, your right”