What are Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS)?

Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS) are rules that producers, traders, manufacturers, retailers or service providers may be asked to follow so that the things they make, grow or do don’t hurt people and the environment.

These standards help keep workers healthy and safe, protect communities and land, and uphold human rights, as well as moderating the environmental impacts of production and consumption.

Highlights

The State of Sustainable Markets 2018: Statistics and Emerging Trends

Publication Date: 30 Sept. 2018
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Voluntary sustainability standards continue their growth across the world. This third global report provides new insights into the evolution of certified agriculture and forestry. This report helps shape decisions of policymakers, producers and businesses, working to address systemic labour and environmental challenges through certified sustainable production.

UNFSS 3rd Flagship Report: “Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS), Trade and Sustainable Development”

Publication Date: September 2018
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The relationship between Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS), trade and sustainable development are among the most pronounced concepts sought-after the realm of green global value chains. The VSS system has in fact influence the export landscape to either facilitate market access or become an obstacle to trade. The 3rd UNFSS Flagship is set to impart an agenda surrounding VSS and its relation to trade issues, in particular the impact of VSS on market access.

(UNIDO) International Quality Infrastructure Forum: “The Contribution of Quality Infrastructure to the Sustainable Development” in Belgium, April 2019

In cooperation with the African Union, the forum will focus on best practices of quality infrastructure to achieve the SDGs and the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCGTA), and will look at how sustainability standards can help private sector achieve the same goal. 

Representing UNFSS, Mr. Bonapas Onguglo, Head of Trade Analysis Branch (UNCTAD) will be be chairing a panel session on “How sustainability standards and related QI services can steer the private sector contribution to the SDGs”. The objective of this session is to present how the positive utilization of standards enables integration into global value chains and to highlight the importance to support small- and medium-sized enterprises in meeting sustainability standards in order for them to access international markets, connect to global value chains and make an effective contribution to the achievement of the SDGs. 

 

Public Awareness and Internal Meeting on Voluntary Sustainability Standard (VSS) in Indonesia, November 2018

The main objective of this event was to raise awareness on VSS within the country in order to establish a VSS framework, as well as to discuss the work plan for the Indonesia’s VSS National Platform launch with the support of UNFSS. The forum has concluded and agreed to shape a VSS National Platform – see Indonesia’s National Platform trajectories.

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Andean Community Sustainable Trade: Agri-Food Value Chain Analysis Workshop in Colombia, December 2018

The workshop was co-organized with PromPerú’s Sustainable development program, ITC, the Dutch CBI and UNFSS. The agenda of the workshop was led by UNCTAD, with a presentation of a focused study on “Sustainable Trade among the Andean Community-EU.”

The workshop covered topics relating to the sustainability trends in the European market, in particular, supply chain standards, EU export requirements, EU’s food and vegetable regulations as well as the sustainable agricultural production and renewable energy. Learn more about the agenda here.

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UNCTAD International Women’s Day: A celebration of fashion and sustainability
07 March 2019
16:00-18:00 hrs., Hall 14 of the Palais des Nations
Geneva, Switzerland

UNCTAD Expert Meeting on Assessing Stakeholders’ Preparedness to Voluntary Sustainability Standards
28 March 2019
09:45-16:30hr, Room Concordia 5, Palais des Nations
Geneva, Switzerland

UNCTAD BioTrade Initiative

UEBT Annual Conference: Beauty of Sourcing with Respect

20-21 May 2019

Marriott Rive Gauche

Paris, France

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What is United Nations Forum on Sustainability Standards (UNFSS)?

We address the sustainable development value of Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS) by pooling resources, synchronizing efforts, and ensuring policy coherence, coordination and collaboration among United Nations agencies.

The Forum is coordinated by a Steering Committee of five United Nations agencies:

   The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

   The International Trade Centre (ITC)

   The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

   United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment)

   The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)

UNFSS Flagship Publication Reports

UNFSS publishes a Flagship report biennially on trending topics that are important to the evolution of Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS). These reports are pivotal tools for all stakeholders from the public and private sectors to gain substantial information through a transparent network.

Visit Flagship Publication Page

3rd Flagship Report: “Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS), Trade and Sustainable Development”

Published: September 2018
The relationship between Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS), trade and sustainable development are among the most pronounced concepts sought-after the realm of green global value chains. The VSS system has in fact influence the export landscape to either facilitate market access or become an obstacle to trade. The 3rd UNFSS Flagship is set to impart an agenda surrounding VSS and its relation to trade issues, in particular the impact of VSS on market access.

VSS and the Sustainable Development Goals

Visit the infographic illustration of the linkages between VSS and the Sustainable Development Goals through a benchmarking analysis conducted in the 3rd Flagship Report. 

National Multi-Stakeholder Platforms

We’ve helped several emerging countries  to develop multi-stakeholder platforms for Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS). These national initiatives, created and shared by stakeholders under each country’s designated coordinating body, reflect local priorities. They are organized and structured in a transparent, inclusive and demand-driven way.

INDIA

The India National Platform on Private Sustainability Standards has been initiated under the Secretarial oversight of Quality Council of India (QCI) to facilitate dialogue between core public and private stakeholders on how to maximize the sustainable development benefits and market access opportunities of private sustainability standards.

MEXICO

The Mexican Platform was launched in April 2018 as a result of the joint collaboration with the Mexican Government, the UNFSS and the German Institute for Development Managing Global Governance program.

BRAZIL

The Brazilian National Platform was launched in 2017 under the Brazilian National Institute of Metrology, Quality and Technology (INMETRO), aiming to be the central figure for discussions surrounding VSS and raise awareness of the stakeholder affected by VSS.

CHINA

The Chinese National Platform on Voluntary Sustainability Standards has been initiated under the auspices of the Standardization Administration of the People’s Republic of China (SAC), the China Association for Standardization (CAS), and the General Administration for Quality Standardization, Inspection and Quarantine of the People’s Republic of China (AQSIQ) to promote the development of VSS in China.

Our Current Projects

These are projects from our member agencies including FAO, ITC, UNCTAD, UN Environment and UNIDO.

FAO

ITC

UNCTAD

UN Environment

UNIDO

Our Member Agencies

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