Standards and Value Chains
There are now more than 400 VSSs operating across the planet. These include organic items, fair trade, and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to name a few. These standards are guidelines for producing, selling, and purchasing products in a sustainable manner. They provide manufacturers and retailers with information about the reliability of and safety conditions behind a product. They also provide consumers with information about the sustainability efforts taken for their production and manufacturing, with the aim of positively affecting communities, the environment, and the economy.
Many of these sustainability initiatives are created by small groups of collaborating partners, influencing their impartiality. This also affects the ability of other stakeholders to provide input into the founding characteristics of the initiatives and how they operate. Because standards and voluntary sustainability initiatives also set rules for production and trade, these standards should ensure an inclusive governance from their design to their implementation. This promotion of good governance in standards initiatives is a key priority for IISD.
Given this growth and the relative contribution of VSSs as tools for sustainable development, IISD presents production and consumption market information in an accessible manner to foster transparency, knowledge, and strategic decision making in the State of Sustainability Initiatives (SSI) reporting series. The SSI is an international transparency and capacity-building project that aims to improve strategic planning and sustainable development outcomes related to VSSs by providing in-depth, credible, and needs-based information. It equips supply-chain decision-makers and governments with the inclusive and transparent information they need to make informed decisions and contribute to sustainable development.
What do we do?
- We analyze the founding characteristics and requirements of VSSs versus sustainable development issues, such as biodiversity conservation, poverty reduction, and gender equity, to understand their strengths and limitations, and highlight opportunities for improvement.
- We track and analyze the market performance of sustainable production and consumption of commodity markets and VSSs globally to understand trends and impacts.
How do we do this?
- We collect primary data from VSSs and standards setters on their systems characteristics and market performance using quantitative and qualitative methods.
- We conduct research and collect secondary data related to sustainable markets, VSSs, and development issues through extensive literature review and establishing strategic partnerships with leading data providers to fill knowledge gaps.
- We analyze data and provide recommendations for standard setters, the private sector, and governments to enhance the effectiveness of VSSs as tools for sustainable development.
Voluntary Sustainability Standards, Public Procurement, and Trade Policy: Trends, challenges, and development implications
Voluntary Sustainability Standards and Resilient Supply Chains: Bananas, cotton, palm oil, and soybeans
Major Trends and Challenges in the Production and Consumption of Agricultural Commodities Compliant with Voluntary Sustainability Standards: Coffee, cacao, tea, and sugar
Voluntary Sustainability Standards and Investments in Agricultural Producers from Developing Countries
How Can Voluntary Standard Certifications Empower Women in Agriculture?
Gender Equality in Agriculture: Leveraging Voluntary Sustainability Standards for Women’s Empowerment
Lab-grown coffee: Why it's good for planet Earth, but not so for farmers in Ethiopia
Scientists in Finland’s VTT Technical Research Centre are developing coffee from cell cultures in a laboratory and say that it has a much lesser climatic impact than regular coffee. The 'eco-friendly' coffee may get regulatory approval in the US and Europe in four years, paving the way for commercialisation of the product.
Six Ways to Protect Coffee Growers' Yields and Livelihoods
Coffee is one of the world’s most heavily traded commodities, but climate instability and price fluctuations are putting farmer livelihoods at risk.
Connecting the Dots for Sustainable Supply Chains
To achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals as a global community, we need more coordinated and coherent supply chains. Are voluntary sustainability standards the answer?
Growing Tea Sustainably: Examples from Kenya, India, and Sri Lanka
From climate change impacts to price fluctuations, producing tea can be a volatile business. Here's how some of the world’s major tea-producing countries are making the industry more stable—and sustainable.
Driving Demand: Assessing the impacts and opportunities of the electric vehicle revolution on cobalt and lithium raw material production and trade
This report assesses the impacts and opportunities of the electric vehicle revolution on cobalt and lithium raw material production and trade, with a focus on Chile and Congo DRC
Options to Incorporate Circular Economy Provisions in Regional Trade Agreements
This report explores possible options to incorporate circular economy-related provisions in trade agreements based on existing precedents.
Certification insulates cotton against market shocks
GENEVA – A new policy brief released by a major global think tank claims that compliance with voluntary sustainability standards can help smallholder cotton farmers to be more resilient to global shocks – such as the COVID-19 pandemic.