UNFSS at ICCO’s World Cocoa Conference, Amsterdam

The UNFSS was presented at ICCO’s World Cocoa Conference in Amsterdam on June, 11th, 2014. This global conference for the cocoa sector brings together the governments from the cocoa producing and consuming countries, as well as a wide variety of stakeholders (over 1,200 registered attendees). The UNFSS presentation focused on the joint activities the UNFSS and ICCO had organized over the past year to address the issue of Voluntary Sustainability Standards in this important sector, which included a workshop in Cameroon in June 2013 and in Switzerland, March 2014. During those events it was agreed that a common framework for global standards would be of real value to the sector and that national governments would work to integrate the issue of VSSs into their national sector development strategies.

The panel that the UNFSS participated on included representatives from the Cote d’Ivoire and Indonesian governments, as well as from the Mars and Mondelez companies, and was chaired by the ICCO executive director. The panel concluded that VSSs were of value but not sufficient individually to address the complex challenges facing the sector and in particular producers. This re-enforced the need to approach VSSs from a larger perspective and within a more comprehensive national and international development strategy, that is centered around inclusive private and public partnership (PPP) strategies. In conclusion, the ICCO and UNFSS confirmed their willingness to support national policy-makers and supplychain actors in this PPP strategy development process to address VSSs and advance a sustainable cocoa sector.

The United Nations Forum on Sustainability Standards (UNFSS) is a joint initiative of 5 UN Agencies (FAO, ITC, UNCTAD, UN Environment and UNIDO) that seeks to address these challenges. It is a demand-driven forum for intergovernmental actors to communicate among each other and engage with key target groups (producers, traders, consumers, standard-setters, certification-bodies, trade diplomats, relevant NGOs and researchers) to address their information needs and influence concerned stakeholders. It aims to provide impartial information, analysis, and discussions on VSS and their potential contribution to facilitate market access, strengthen public goods and achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Most importantly, the UNFSS focuses on potential trade or development obstacles VSS may create, with particular emphasis on their impact on SMEs and less developed countries.