Voluntary Sustainability Standards and Biodiversity: Understanding the potential of agricultural standards for biodiversity protection
The policy brief entitled Voluntary Sustainability Standards and Biodiversity: Understanding the potential of agricultural standards for biodiversity protection examines the intersection between voluntary sustainability standard and the conservation of biodiversity.
The study identified several opportunities to leverage the impact of voluntary sustainability standards to prevent and slow biodiversity losses:
- Data gathered as part of the certification process can offer policy-makers and other stakeholders invaluable insight to support effective biodiversity management. However, this data is not currently public nor is there an integrated and harmonized system in which it can be shared and analyzed.
- The reliance of voluntary standards on market forces for adoption represents a major financial resource for the implementation of biodiversity policy, but may also reduce the ability of initiatives to address biodiversity loss where it is needed most. Policy-makers can collaborate with voluntary standards to facilitate and provide incentives for adoption in areas where they will have maximum impact.
- The distribution of compliant production is primarily determined by where compliance costs are lowest rather than where need is greatest. Policy-makers can provide financing to standards and research partners to determine biodiversity-specific impacts of agricultural production within specific crops so that these can be effectively integrated into the standards development and implementation processes.
- To ensure market fairness and the overall effectiveness of the voluntary sustainability standards sector in meeting stated (biodiversity) objectives, policy-makers can set credibility, accuracy and evidence-based ground rules to ensure that market claims are supported by responsible practice and expected outcomes.
There is a clear rationale for policy-makers to support the evolution of voluntary sustainability standards in ways that can help ensure that they play a constructive role in meeting biodiversity targets. Voluntary sustainability standards offer an opportunity to reduce the biodiversity impacts of agriculture while promoting best practices, which can also improve yields and help to feed a growing population.