Unlocking the Transformative Potential of Voluntary Sustainability Standards: UNFSS National Platforms’ Network work towards Sustainable Solutions

Amid the challenges posed by the food, energy, and finance crises, its impacts on global value chains, and the upcoming regulations in the space of sustainability compliance, the UNFSS National Platform and Initiative Cooperation Network (NPICN) convened on the 05th of July 2023 to discuss implications, in particular for the developing countries. Recognizing the urgency of these crises, the meeting served as a rallying point for experts from diverse backgrounds, united in their commitment to unlock the transformative potential of Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS) as a catalyst for sustainable solutions.

The NPICN meeting prioritized the urgent need to address these critical challenges head-on. By harnessing the power of VSS within global value chains, participants aimed to drive positive change, foster resilience, and promote responsible practices across the value chains.

Under the guidance of the chair, Mr. Rogerio de Oliveira Corrêa from the Instituto Nacional de Metrologia, Qualidade e Tecnologia – INMETRO, the network warmly welcomed new participants joining from South Africa, Colombia, and Ecuador. Mr. Corrêa articulated the core objectives of the UNFSS National Platforms meeting, emphasizing the crucial need for concerted action to unlock the full potential of VSS, benefiting all stakeholders involved.

Mr. Santiago Fernandez de Cordoba, the UNFSS Coordinator, outlined the forthcoming initiatives planned for the fall of 2023. In particular the UNFSS agenda will be around the third Academic Advisory Council (AAC) meeting in Florence, the International Convention on Sustainable Trade and Standards (ICSTS) in New Delhi, and the collaborative efforts with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to organize a conference on Eco Labeling and Sustainable Public Procurement.

Against the backdrop of recently approved due diligence regulations by the European Union (EU), the NPICN recognized the importance of understanding the role of VSS in the forthcoming regulations, as this interaction of VSS might play a crucial role not only in serving as a means to comply with the regulations but also for enhancing supply chain transparency, accountability, and sustainability. Mr. Fernandez de Cordoba emphasized that this will be the key discussion during the AAC meeting in Florence and will also be explored in the ICSTS.

The National Platforms’ Network is imperative for furthering sustainable trade via maximization of benefits of VSS. UNFSS would continue supporting the work of these platforms to facilitate collaboration on areas of work that are mutually beneficial to all.”

Mr. Santiago Fernandez de Cordoba, Senior Economist UNCTAD and UNFSS Coordinator

Furthermore, the meeting showcased two remarkable projects. Ms. Laetitia Montero, Associate Program Management Officer UNEP, shared with the network the ECO ADVANCE project, which covers Eco Labelling and Sustainable Public Procurement. She shared that the project has a focus on Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, and Costa Rica, but their aim is also to develop global learning and enable knowledge sharing. She also shared that the work was geared towards tools to improve climate mitigation, biodiversity, and resource protection in particular, and sustainable development in general.

This was followed by a presentation by Mrs. Renata Guerreiro, Project Coordinator and Member of the Secretariat of Diálogos Pró-Açaí, who introduced the Pro-Açaí Dialogue. This visionary multi-stakeholder network, dedicated to strengthening and sustaining the acai value chain, unveiled a compelling study on sustainability standards in the sector. Mrs. Guerreiro shared the transformative potential of sustainability standards in enhancing responsibility and sustainability within the acai value chain.

Lastly, Dr. Manish Pande, Director and Head of the Project Analysis & Documentation Division at the Quality Council of India, announced the third International Convention on Sustainable Trade and Standards (ICSTS). As anticipation soared, Dr. Pande unveiled New Delhi, India, as the convention’s host city in November 2023. He shared that the ICSTS will explore diverse themes surrounding sustainability standards and sustainable trade and encouraged the NPICN members to collaborate actively. The meeting closed with remarks from representatives and a discussion on the next meeting details.

In a world pressed with escalating challenges, the power of collaborative action and the potential to leverage voluntary sustainability standards shines brightly. The UNFSS National Platforms’ Network, with unwavering determination, showcased its commitment to steering sustainable development forward. By harnessing the transformative potential of VSS, fostering global cooperation, and embracing innovative projects, the network emerges as a beacon of hope towards a more sustainable and inclusive future involving sustainable trade.

Contact UNFSS to join and support the National Platform and Initiative Cooperation Network: santiago.fernandezdecordoba@un.org or rupal.verma@un.org

Watch out this space for more information on the UNFSS Academic Advisory Council meeting in Florence and the International Convention on Sustainable Trade and Standards (ICSTS)!

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