Sustainable Trade and VSS Dialogue: Understanding the role of VSS for advancing the sustainability agenda through the forthcoming UNFSS 5th Flagship Report

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recently warned that the world is on brink of a “perfect storm” of crises. The global food, energy, and financial crisis has hit countries that were already reeling from the pandemic and the climate crisis and has pushed back what had been a growing convergence between developed and developing countries. The role of trade for sustainable development has gained greater momentum in addressing these challenges.

Today, the concept of sustainable development through trade, standards, and Global Value Chains, is emerging as a response to the increase in consumer demand backed by industry proactivity in responding to market needs and the need to further sustainable development. Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS), have emerged as a market-based tool to address key sustainability challenges such as biodiversity, climate change, and human rights.

Since their emergence, VSS have been propelled from specialty niches into mainstream markets. While today, there are multiple VSS being used across supply chains, there are many challenges associated with their effectiveness and impact that need to be addressed in order to maximize their benefits. There is a need to address these challenges associated with VSS adoption in order to gain full benefits of the same.

The upcoming UNFSS 5th Flagship Report aims to address this issue and study the role of VSS in advancing the sustainability agenda in developing countries and assess the opportunities and challenges associated with VSS uptake in developing countries. The report will provide an overview of VSS in developing countries and highlight the challenges for VSS uptake. Further, the report will present some on-ground impacts of VSS on environmental, social, and economic sustainability. The report will also introduce the broader political and policy context around VSS. And lastly, key policy recommendations will be presented in the report to further harness VSS opportunities and address their challenges and risks in developing countries.

Understanding the role of VSS for advancing the sustainability agenda: UNFSS 5th Flagship Report

The growth in VSS can be broadly attributed to a growth in demand from consumers and buyers for sustainably produced products and also the consequently growing expectation from producers to address socio-economic and environmental concerns. But have VSS delivered on their claims? And what are the challenges that producers from developing countries face in complying with VSS?

Interested to know more?

Find out in our upcoming 5th Flagship Report which will be presented at our Sustainable Trade and VSS Dialogue.

Date: 26th October 2022

Time: 15h-16h CET

Location: Press Club Brussels, Rue Froissart 95 – 1040 Brussels 

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About the UNFSS Flagship Series

In order to tackle the challenges that VSS posed on developing countries, UNFSS promotes proactive approaches to national policy and information exchanges on VSS, which enables developing countries not only to minimize potential costs associated with adjustment to VSS, but also to maximize related economic, social and environmental benefits.

UNFSS publishes biennially a flagship report on diverse topics to do with Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS), our mission and activities, for our stakeholders from the public and private sectors. The first volume of the Flagship Report released in 2013 was the interplay of VSS and public governance. The 2016 Flagship Report sought to further dissect the interplay between VSS and public governance processes by striving to answer the question “what are the optimal dynamics between VSS and public policy processes to ensure sustainability objectives are most efficiently met”. The 2018 Flagship Report identified the resemblance of VSS and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 2020 report analysed how VSS are (and can be) integrated into Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP) and trade policy respectively.