Interaction between partners and stakeholders is one of the primary objective within the framework of the UNFSS. The UNFSS regularly holds policy discussions on sustainability standards, workshops on data collection methods, international seminars and regional briefing sessions and dialogues where the expert inputs from the VSS Academic Advisory Council during these events would significantly add value to the discussions.

One of the most prominent output of the UNFSS is the ‘International Convention on Sustainable Trade and Standards (ICSTS)’, as well as the thematic dialogue series such as the one on ‘Sustainable Trade between Peru and the EU’ held in Peru between the UNFSS and the Andean Community Secretariat to support Peruvian SME exporters in implementing sustainable measures. The first international multi-stakeholder dialogue on sustainability standards can be dated back from the ‘VSS Stakeholders’ Conference’ organized in Berlin, Germany in 2016, which was followed by the ‘International Conference on Sustainable Trade and Resource Efficiency in Supply Chains’ in June 2017. This Conference was organized by the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the United Nations on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), in collaboration with the China Association for Standardization (CAS), which was held at the Qingdao Forum on International Standards. The event received tremendous recognition upholding the significance of Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS) as a tool for sustainable development and market access. The event represents the first technical assistance training that UNFSS embarked on, as well as marking the launch of the China VSS National Platform.

In an effort to strengthen the networks between the National Platforms, the Quality Council of India (QCI), convening body of the India National Platform on Private Sustainability Standards (India PSS Platform), with the support of the UNFSS, originated the International Convention on Sustainable Trade and Standards (ICSTS). The event was the first of its kind — a multi-stakeholder convention dedicated solely to the practicalities of leveraging trade, global value chains, standards and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This was also an event that marked the first ‘Declaration of Cooperation on Sustainability Standards between the National Platforms’ signed by INMETRO, Quality Council of India and the Mexican Ministry of Economy on an agreement of 9 action points towards achieving the 2030 SDGs collectively.

In September 2019, the Brazilian National Institute of Metrology, Quality and Technology (INMETRO), the Federation of Industries of the State of Rio de Janeiro (FIRJAN) and UNFSS co-organized the 2nd ICSTS in Rio de Janeiro. The 3-day convention welcomed more than 500 participants from 20 different countries, to name a few – US, EU, ISO representatives from 10 LATAM countries, India, China, Japan, South Africa, Canada etc. which was hosted in Casa Firjan. The dynamic mix of participants from international organizations, government officials, academia, industry associations, standards-setting organizations to private companies and civil society needed perspective that looks upon issues from all sides of the value chain.

By working jointly on these events, the VSS Academic Advisory Council will be able to participate in the academic research as well as learn from the perspectives of the other stakeholders, including policy-makers, business representatives and representatives from the international organizations.