Rights of consumers in a ‘digital economy’ take centre stage
…as 21st CI World Congress opens in Portugal
The 21st World Congress of Consumers International; the organisation that is responsible for the protection and promotion of consumer rights around the globe, began on Tuesday, April 30, 2019, in Estoril, Portugal, with several stakeholders calling for increased focus on the challenges faced by consumers due to an increasingly digitised world.
The event is being held in partnership with Consumers International, The Consumer Directorate-General of Portugal and the Internet Society; and has brought together consumer experts from around the world, businesses, civil society, regulators and governments to engage with each other on a range of issues which organisers hope would result in unique perspectives on the digitised world, its possibilities and potential pitfalls.
In declaring the summit open, Portugal’s Minister of the Economy, Pedro Siza Vieira, underlined the constant efforts that are needed to address the challenges of protecting and empowering consumers in a complex and rapidly developing online environment. He urged all stakeholders; including regulators, businesses and consumer organisations to work together to overcome these challenges in order to ensure that everyone benefits from the opportunities that are available.
The theme of this year’s summit, ‘Putting Consumers at the heart of digital innovation’. The Guyana Consumers Association (GCA) is being represented at the Congress by Secretary/Executive Member Jainarine Deonauth.
According to Consumers International, “by harnessing the power of collective intelligence and fostering understanding between those who create digital products and services, and those who use and regulate them, we will catalyse future change, and support breakthroughs and innovations which will benefit consumers, digital businesses and society as a whole”.
Speaking briefly with Guyana Times, head of the Competition and Consumer Policies Branch Division of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Teresa Moreira, related that her organisation is committed to working with other international organisations to assist developing countries such as Guyana, better deal with the challenges of a digital economy, but such request must come from countries and/or organisations themselves.
She explained that UNCTAD has worked previously with Latin American countries and Caricom in strengthening their legislative and institutional frameworks for consumer protection.