The unique character of the United Nations Forum on Sustainability Standards (UNFSS) is that its activities and thematic focus are demand-driven. It is therefore the active engagement of developing country stakeholders, which will maximize the capacity of the Forum. As well, UNFSS will pay particular attention to confronting the risk of marginalization of smallholders and small- and medium-sized enterprises.

A better-informed dialogue on the pro-active use of voluntary sustainability standards (VSS) will be based on analytical activities, exchange of national experience and good networking among all key stakeholders. Thus, the UNFSS is designed to be an information platform for developing countries’ delegates, decision-makers and national experts to better understand VSS and how they relate to their sustainable development strategies.

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The work of the Forum intends to cover all three pillars of sustainable development, i.e. environmental, social and economic standards. In the beginning the focus will be on agri-food standards and is likely to be extended to examining the link between food production and climate-change mitigation/ adaptation, as well as, VSS related to areas of material/resource/energy efficiency (including carbon footprint), which are emerging as a new frontier.

The target audience is not producers per se, but rather concerned public and private stakeholders in developing countries as well as supportive civil society and academia and the Forum will work towards meeting the specific needs of this target audience.