The Indian Story: Impact of Private Sustainability Standards on Market Access and Sustainable Development

The Indian Story: Full Study

UNFSS launched the study “The Indian Story: Impact of Private Sustainability Standards on Market Access and Sustainable Development” in the context of its support to the Indian PSS National Multi-Stakeholders Platform mandate. The scope and work of the National Platforms work will be presented in the Expert Meeting “VSS, Market-Access and Trade-Led Sustainable Development” in United Nations Palais des Nations, on September 27, 2017. Agenda Expert Meeting


“The Indian Story” aims to assess the role and contribution of Private Sustainability Standards (PSS) to India’s trade, and analyse if PSS have an impact to achieve sustainable development. It further explores the role of accreditation and certification bodies for operationalisation of the PSS in the Indian context. This study goes on to highlight the positive social, economic and environmental impacts that PSS might have on the society and business ecosystem, the benefits of certification, and the increased endorsement of the sustainability standards system by government mechanisms, statutory entities, and policy initiatives in an India which is yet wary of them as potential technical barriers to trade.


“The Indian Story”  attempts to fuel these efforts by understanding the PSS ecosystem in India through the following key questions: (i) Why we discuss that Private Sustainability Standards (PSS) may have significant impact upon India’s trade success and sustainable development? (ii) Which product-groups are the key priority groups for this study? What is the rationale for the selection? This study identify three (3) priority product groups (PPGs), provide justification for doing so in the Indian context, and then move to understanding the PSS implications in their market by understanding taking specific approached to the PPGs as best suit them. The PPGs chosen (and later substantiated) include agri-food (tea & grapes), forestry (handicrafts) and textile.

This is a study that has been commissioned by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), on behalf of the United Nations Forum on Sustainability Standards,  for understanding the impact of private sustainability standards (PSS) on market access and sustainable development in India.

Further information of the Indian PSS National Platform at:

Launch of India PSS National Platform

Indian VSS National Platform


This study was done thanks to the financial support of the Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and ISEAL Alliance.

logo-seco-1                                         images

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.