UNFSS 2021 Activity Highlights

Another eventful year has come to an end. None of the successes we achieved during the year happened by chance.

The UNFSS Secretariat thank you for all your support for making things happen, despite a difficult year due to the pandemic.

As we look forward to welcoming 2022 with you, allow us to take this opportunity to highlight some of our key activities in 2021.

Academic Advisory Council (AAC) Annual Meeting

In November 2021, the UNFSS co-organized the Academic Advisory Council (AAC) meeting together with the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies and the German Development Institute (DIE), which was hosted at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence. The meeting was conducted in a hybrid format where some participants joined in person, and some joined virtually.

The meeting brought together an international mix of academic (members of the AAC) and policy experts from various disciplines and backgrounds to consolidate the knowledge on VSS and contribute to a comprehensive understanding of VSS impact and effectiveness.

The academic and policy sessions were organized typically to foster a debate and progress on VSS as a tool to enhance sustainable development. The wide array of topics discussed in 2 full days may have been a difficult task to point to only a few key takeaways, but it has confirmed that there are many topics within the economic, social and environmental sphere that are pertinent to the dynamics of VSS.

Meeting Summary Report: https://unfss.org/2021/11/24/research-frontiers-on-the-adoption-impact-and-effectiveness-of-voluntary-sustainability-standards/

AAC Roundtables and Podcasts, in partnership with Evidensia

UNFSS, in collaboration with Evidensia, organized a series of Roundtable discussions that leverages the expertise of the AAC members:

All three webinars received over 1000 registrants, covering almost the entire globe and across sectors. This means that the topic surrounding VSS is becoming commonplace, and we do hope to continue raising the needed awareness and, more importantly, connecting the policymakers with adequate evidence-based information.

Jointly, UNFSS and Evidensia, facilitated by Ms. Vidya Rangan, Senior Manager for Impacts and Evidence, ISEAL, produced two podcasts that feature some AAC experts.

The first podcast features UNCTAD Senior Economist and UNFSS Coordinator, Santiago Fernández de Córdoba, and Deputy Director of the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, Axel Marx which covered the debates surrounding trade policy and VSS.

Listen to the first podcast here: https://www.evidensia.eco/resources/1115/trade-policy-and-vss/

The second podcast features Niematallah Elamin, (Economic Expert at UNCTAD and former Assistant Professor at the University of Khartoum), Archna Negi (Associate Professor in the Centre for International Politics, Organisation & Disarmament, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University), and Mercedes Aráoz Fernández (former Vice President of Peru and Professor of Economics at the Universidad del Pacifico) which focused on VSS and trade with respect to the developing countries.

Listen to the second podcast here: https://www.evidensia.eco/resources/2006/trade-policy-and-vss-a-developingcountries-perspective/

CARICOM Study – Export Potential to the European Union

On April 2021, the UNFSS published a report on the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Export Potential to the European Union, financed by UNCTAD. The report assesses the CARICOM agricultural products – Herbs & Spices, Cocoa, Sugar Cane, Coconut and Aquaculture export potential to the EU through the utilization of VSS. The EU is the 2nd most important export market for CARICOM countries, after the USA. It is important to note that the impact of the EU Directives is very significant for CARICOM since the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between them expressly refers to the concept of sustainable development.

Download study here: https://unctad.org/webflyer/caribbeancommunity-caricom-export-potentialeuropean-union

Better Trade for Sustainable Development

This report, by UNCTAD, provides a comprehensive analysis of the potentials and constraints of VSS in making international trade more sustainable, in particular with regards to developing countries development opportunities. It investigates the means of maximizing VSS contribution to sustainable development and minimizing their risks. It also presents, based on the literature, the evidence we have on the economic, social and environmental impacts of VSS on the ground. Furthermore, it investigates the barriers to VSS uptake specifically in developing countries and proposes structural approaches that can be considered for enhancing the potential of VSS.

Download study here: https://unctad.org/webflyer/better-tradesustainable-development-role-voluntarysustainability-standards

Understanding Smallholder Farmer Access to VSS-Compliant Markets

The Chapter in the IISD´s Standards and Poverty Reduction report explores this issue and draws results from field studies and interviews with stakeholders from developing and least developed countries. The study is based on information from interviews and surveys with the main actors in the six countries’ value chains. This includes producers/producer organizations, government, VSS/certification bodies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), financial service providers, and buyers. 57 such actors in the following six commodities and value chains in six countries were interviewed to understand the situation of smallholder farmers:  Rwanda: coffee; Guinea-Bissau: cashew; Guatemala: banana; Colombia: avocado; Cambodia: rice; and India: cotton.

Download study here: https://www.iisd.org/system/files/2021-12/ssiinitiatives-review-standards-povertyreduction.pdf#page=90

Want to know other 2021 activities? Read our activities here https://unfss.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/UNFSS-End-of-Year-Report-1.pdf

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.

%d bloggers like this: