Dialogue on Producer Inclusion in Voluntary Sustainability Standard Governance

Agriculture and food systems support the livelihoods of almost half the world’s population, including 500 million smallholder farmers. Many voluntary sustainability standards (VSSs) in the agricultural sector seek to improve the livelihoods of the people who produce our food and goods as part of their mandate. But to what degree do they include those they intend to help in the decisions that affect their lives?

IISD recently published a report exploring the extent to which producers are included in the governance systems of six VSS-setting organizations (VSSSOs) in the agricultural sector. We gathered representatives from these VSSSOs on November 6 to share and discuss the findings from the report, including a series of recommendations for how VSSSOs can give producers more power and voice in decision-making processes.

These recommendations include giving producers votes and veto power in governance bodies, training to be informed on what’s at stake, opportunities for open communication, a seat and vote on grievance committees, and access to and influence over data collection.