State of Sustainability Initiatives

We examine the characteristics of voluntary sustainable standards (VSSs) to better understand how they may enable various aspects of sustainable development, such as biodiversity conservation, poverty reduction and gender equality. This provides us with insights to identify opportunities for VSS to move commodity sectors more effectively towards sustainability.

The State of Sustainability Initiatives (SSI) is an international transparency and capacity-building project that aims at improving strategic planning and sustainable development outcomes related to voluntary sustainable standards (VSSs). It does so by providing in-depth, credible and needs-based information on VSS characteristics, market performance and potential contributions to addressing development challenges.

The United Nations Forum on Sustainability Standards (UNFSS) defines VSSs as “standards specifying requirements that producers, traders, manufacturers, retailers or service providers may be asked to meet, relating to a wide range of sustainability metrics, including respect for basic human rights, worker health and safety, the environmental impacts of production, community relations, land use planning and others”.