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
Tired of Tossing Brown Bananas? Scientists Just Got One Step Closer to Slowing Down Their Ripening Process
According to the International Institute for Sustainable Development, farmers cultivated about 117 million tons of bananas in 2019—but about 50 million tons ended up as waste.
Research with a peel: FSU study on banana browning could help tackle food waste
New research from Florida State University won't only help you nail the timing for your banana bread — it could also help reduce millions of tons of food waste from the widely cultivated fruit.
Standards 'support sustainable crop investments'
Voluntary sustainable standards - such as in cotton - enable more investment in sustainable agriculture due to market premiums, higher farm gate prices and direct contracts with buyers, according to a new report.
State of Sustainability Initiatives Review: Standards and Investments in Sustainable Agriculture
This SSI report shows that sustainability standards can reduce financial risks and promote sound business practices to catalyze investment in sustainable agriculture.
Province invests $2.5M to support Manitoba's fisheries
The Manitoba government is investing $2.5 million to establish and implement programs that support the sustainability and certification of Manitoba’s fisheries in partnership with the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), Natural Resources and Northern Development Minister Scott Fielding announced Friday.
More Say for Smallholders Will Help Standards Address Poverty
Voluntary sustainability standards can be a valuable tool for tackling poverty. But for these standards to be truly effective, smallholder farmers must have a say in how these are designed and put into practice.
State of Sustainability Initiatives Review: Standards and Poverty Reduction
This report explores how sustainability standards can help reduce poverty and recommendations for policy makers, buyers, and VSS bodies.