Strengthening consumer product safety in the digital age

By Thyme Burdon

Consumer Product Safety Manager, OECD Directorate for Science, Technology and Innovation

The OECD has worked in the area of consumer protection for more than 50 years. As globalisation and digital transformation alter the consumer landscape, the organisation remains at the forefront of international policy coordination to maintain robust consumer protection and empowerment in a rapidly evolving context. As Neville Matthew, Chair of the OECD’s Working Party on Consumer Product Safety, put it: “Global markets have global products and both consumers and businesses benefit from well-developed international standards”.

Just last year, in recognition of the need for clear policy guidance in adapting to the changing consumer landscape, the OECD Council adopted the Recommendation on Consumer Product Safety, which outlines key elements that should be at the core of consumer product safety frameworks domestically and internationally. The Recommendation calls for a consumer right to safe products, evidence-based product safety laws, comparable approaches to systematic risk management, information sharing between government authorities and businesses, and special consideration for the needs of vulnerable consumers.

While the Recommendation has been in effect for just over six months now, consumer policy makers and regulators are already using it to identify areas where their consumer product safety frameworks should be revisited. “The Recommendation illustrates the existing regulatory gaps and the necessary legal and policy updates that each country may need,” says Juliana Oliveira Domingues, National Secretary for Consumer Affairs in Brazil. This topic will be one of the key consumer issues discussed at a major international consumer conference hosted in virtual format by the OECD Committee on Consumer Policy, from 15-17 June 2021. Subscribe to our newsletter for the latest information on the agenda, speakers and how to participate.

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