The UNFSS was present at the following events in India in the last quarter of 2014:
29-30 October 2014 – Conference on Trade, Transport and Transit Facilitation in South Asia: Imperative of Bridging Macro-Meso-Micro Gaps between India and Bangladesh.
The conference was held at the Hotel Lalit Great Eastern in Kolkata, India, and organised by CUTS International. Mr. Bhutani was a panellist in the session on Standards and Transport related Barriers to Trade Facilitation between Bangladesh and India. Issues discussed included the importance of standards in the area of trade facilitation, the rise of non-tariff barriers in South Asian trade, and the importance of Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS) in South-South trade.
11-13 November 2014 – UNFSS training programme for government officials – Jaipur, India
Mr. Arpit Bhutani, a member of the UNFSS support team, conducted a training programme on Economic Diplomacy: Emerging Issues on SPS matters in India which was organised by CUTS International for middle/entry level government officials.
Mr. Bhutani gave the training session on 13 November explaining the concept of Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS), which include processes and production methods (PPMs) of goods related to environmental, social, economic and animal welfare issues (so-called non-product-related PPMs), as well as highlighting the importance of VSS for market entry and sustainable development.
There was also a session on the UN Forum on Sustainability Standards where the proposal for a UNFSS-supported national VSS platform in India was presented. The UNFSS plans to have a meeting in the first half of 2015 to discuss in detail the main issues, challenges, public and private sector perspective on VSS, feedback from stakeholders, especially policymakers, and accordingly establish the India platform in the second half of 2015.
16 December 2014 – UNFSS at Workshop of the Centre for Responsible Business – New Delhi, India
The Centre for Responsible Business (CRB) organized a one-day seminar on Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS) at The Leela Ambience Gurgaon (Delhi-NCR), in which Mr. Arpit Bhutani from the UNFSS support team was a panellist under the topic CSR Mandate & Voluntary Sustainability Standards: Contribution to Business, Economy, Society and Environment in India. The event was attended by government officials, standard-setting organisations and a number of economic and business think tanks.
In the course of the seminar it was emphasized that the use and scope of VSS as a framework and tool for businesses/industry self-regulation was increasing, and standard-setting, as a trend, was gaining momentum in India.
Mr.Bhutani gave a brief overview of the objectives, main clusters of activities and deliverables of the UNFSS, including a proposal for creating a UNFSS-supported national VSS platform in India.