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Key Message

The Sustainable Markets and Responsible Trade initiative aims to improve the sustainability of international trade by promoting economies of scale, efficiency, equity and transparency in the design and implementation of voluntary supply chain initiatives.


Jason Potts· Jason Potts
Associate and Program Manager, SMART
Oshani Perera· Oshani Perera
Program Leader
Vivek Voora· Vivek Voora

Sustainable Markets and Responsible
Trade (SMART)

Reducing production and consumption impacts

What's New in Sustainable Markets?

  • The State of Sustainability Initiatives Review 2014: Standards and the Green Economy
    The State of Sustainability Initiatives Review 2014 provides a bird's-eye view of market and performance trends across 16 of the most prevalent standards initiatives operating across ten different commodity sectors. The Review represents one small effort toward strengthening our understanding of how voluntary sustainability standards are developing over time, both in terms of the systems they deploy and the market impacts that they have. It is hoped that the ensuing data and analysis, when read in conjunction with the growing body of field-level impact data, will allow supply chain decision-makers to strengthen their own strategic decision-making processes in ways that provide optimal sustainable development impact.

  • The Global Initiative on Commodities: From Stakeholder Perspectives to Stakeholder Participation (A Summary of Civil Society Recommendations for Sustainable Commodity Production) (PDF - 2.2 mb)
    The Global Initiative on Commodities (GIC) is an international partnership initiative launched by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development; the African, Pacific and Caribbean Group; the Common Fund for Commodities; and the United Nations Development Programme designed to break the "conspiracy of silence" regarding the importance of commodities in sustainable development. The priorities of the GIC are outlined in the GIC's Brasilia Outcomes Paper (PDF - 215 kb). Over the course of 2008, IISD's Sustainable Commodity Initiative managed a civil society consultation process to identify CSO views and priorities towards a global strategy for commodities within the GIC. This document summarizes the results of that process as well as the "Chatelaine Consensus," the formal CSO guidance for carrying the GIC forward.

  • The Sustainable Commodity Initiaitive: SCI Rationale and Road-map: 2008-2011
    (PDF - 2 mb)

    During 2007 the IISD/UNCTAD Sustainable Commodity Initiative welcomed new coordinating partners: The International Institute for Environment and Development as well as AidEnvironment. Both institutions bring a wealth of project and research expertise related to voluntary and market-based initiatives in sustainable commodity production and trade. The SCI Rationale and Road-map: 2008-2011 sets forth the strategic vision for the Sustainable Commodity Initiative for the next three years building from this new partnership base.

Over the past two and half decades, there has been a rapid expansion of standards-based and voluntary markets for sustainable products. The rise of "fair trade," "organic" and a wide variety of other social and environmental labels is testament to growing consumer and industry awareness of the importance of individual decision-making power and responsibility in achieving sustainable development.

With the growing awareness, mainstream markets are also increasingly tapping into voluntary initiatives as a basis for reducing the production and consumption impacts global of economic activity. As the presence and multitude of such initiatives grows, policy-makers and supply chain stakeholders alike are faced with an increasing array of opportunities, but also a growing number of questions as to which actions, initiatives or policies are the most appropriate means for addressing core sustainable development issues. Some key questions arising from the increased use of voluntary supply chain initiatives include:

In addition to helping stakeholders find answers to these and other related questions, IISD’s Sustainable Markets and Responsible Trade (SMART) initiative seeks to build an "enabling infrastructure" for the efficient, equitable and transparent use of voluntary initiatives as instruments for sustainable development. With this in mind, the SMART initiative has identified five core areas for work and project development.