United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)

UNIDO considers VSS to be a major tool for opening opportunities for the integration of business operators into global markets and value chains. UNIDO’s interventions with respect to VSS help businesses—particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)—to achieve and prove conformity with market requirements, compete on international markets and connect to global value chains.

Its work spans policy and governance advice to the development of Quality Infrastructure institutions and conformity assessment services, including the support of the private sector in achieving compliance with international public and private standards and technical regulations.

These actions are a response to the fact that global trade increasingly takes place within value chains, and in a system that is governed by multilateral trade rules such as World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements on behind-the-border regulations like technical barriers to trade (TBT) and sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS).

In addition, the quality and compliance of products and services with market requirements and standards on consumer health and safety, environmental impact, labor conditions and/or sustainability (including voluntary standards) have become key elements of competitiveness in global business relations.

The private sector can contribute to more sustainable business practices through trade with VSS, which also has the potential to generate significant economic, social and environmental benefits. This highlights the relevance of VSS for three of the five Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) pillars, namely people, planet and prosperity, thereby also making VSS key to the operationalization of the SDGs and to supporting both developed and developing countries to meet SDG targets. The sustainable practices promoted by the more than two hundred existing VSS align to some extent with the SDGs.

UNIDO recognizes the potential of VSS to contribute to export-led growth, wealth creation and poverty reduction, and, if properly used by countries, to serve as an effective tool to achieve the SDGs. It is a proud member of UNFSS and contributes to the work on VSS through:

  • knowledge sharing and awareness raising (e.g. through publications and events);
  • partnerships (e.g. UNFSS); and
  • technical cooperation (see project examples below).

For more information on UNIDO’s work on VSS, please check the brochures:

English             https://bit.ly/3CclU9y

Spanish            https://bit.ly/3F4bYjX

French              https://bit.ly/3n3auQP

Russian            https://bit.ly/3kMvavd

Video on Quality and Standards produced for the Donor Conference (2016)

Colombia – Safe+ Quality Programme

Guide to Private Standards: “Making Private Standards Working For You”, 2010



Global Value Chains and Development, 2015



Other publications on advancing economic competitiveness


UNIDO VSS Related Projects

The Global Quality and Standards Programme (GQSP) Peru project is strengthening the quality of the Peruvian coffee and cocoa value chain by improving the technical competence and sustainability of the National Quality System, enhancing SME compliance with standards and technical regulations, and promoting culture for quality.

After a mapping of mandatory and voluntary standards for the EU and US markets, and identifying quality requirements, the project designed targeted interventions to address quality gaps in the public and private sectors. The GQSP Peru is currently supporting the National Quality Institute (INACAL) to develop relevant standards, including on Good Manufacturing Practices, sensory evaluation for chocolate and environmental footprint. Additionally, UNIDO is helping INACAL to promote standards on Good Manufacturing Practices and Good Agricultural Practices, among others.

The project is also supporting the National Service of Agrarian Health (SENASA) to strengthen its functions to control the organic production by strengthening its seeds authority, improving their organic production control systems, and supporting the implementation of internal systems controls and the implementation of the organic seal.

As part of the support to SMEs to comply with VSS, and increase awareness on quality culture, the project designed a series of five webinars on organic certification for coffee and cocoa. The series included the participation of 16 national and international experts who presented and discussed organic agriculture, voluntary standards, certifications, benefits and trends, organic and speciality coffee, organic and fine aroma cocoa, main challenges of the organic certification in Peru and the organic certification process.

Additionally, the project supported the Cocoa and Chocolate Show organized by the Peruvian Association of Cocoa Producers (APPCACAO) through a Conference on ISO 34140 – Sustainable Cacao together with the ISO Cocoa Committee Chairman Mr. J.H.M. Steijn.

For entering global markets

Colombia seeks to be recognized as a regional leader in the production and export of cosmetics manufactured using natural ingredients by 2032. However, to export to international markets, the sector needs to meet the technical requirements in terms of quality throughout the entire value chain. Closing this gap was the objective of the Safe+ quality programme for the cosmetic sector.

UNIDO has supported Colombia’s efforts to integrate into the regional and multilateral trading systems by enhancing its trade capacities and performance. This was carried out through a quality programme aimed at the cosmetic sector’s production chain.

The main outcomes of UNIDO’s intervention have been strengthening of the National Quality Infrastructure; fostering Colombia’s integration into the regional and multilateral trading systems; and improving the cosmetic sector’s capacity to comply with international quality, private and sustainability standards.

For preserving the environment

Through its technical cooperation activities, the Quality Programme for the Chemical Value Chain, as part of the Global Quality Standards Programme Colombia, has promoted the adoption of standards and technical quality requirements to prepare more than 50 micro, small and medium enterprises for the challenges and demands of international markets by generating technical capabilities within their companies. These technical capabilities will enable them to offer products with greater added value, reducing their impact on human health and the environment.

The technical assistance provided relates to sustainability in the context of VSS and beyond, and includes the:

  • Adoption of the Globally Harmonized System;
  • Implementation of green seals; and
  • Sustainability pilot for containers and packaging in the chemical sector.

In Indonesia, under the SMART-Fish programme (2015–2019) and the Global Quality and Standards Programme (2019– 2022), UNIDO has sought to contribute to strengthening the trade capacity of shrimp, seaweed, pole and line tuna, milkfish, pangasius and catfish to increase exports, while ensuring the conservation of biodiversity by promoting sustainability standards.

In the course of development of the Seaweed Production Standard of the Aquaculture and Marine Stewardship Council (ASC/MSC), the programme in collaboration with WWF Indonesia facilitated involvement of seaweed industry stakeholders, which mainly consists of small farmers, to ensure their needs and interests are accommodated in the standard. In addition, UNIDO supported the development of ASEAN Tuna Eco Label (ATEL). ATEL certification is expected to be a more affordable and less cumbersome sustainability standard that is consistent with FAO guidelines.

The programme has supported Pole & Line and Hand Line Tuna Association of Indonesia (AP2HI) since 2015 in their efforts to obtain MSC certification. Regular public–private round table series were held to draw a roadmap for MSC certification together with local and international organizations. The programme also supported compliance with the Chain of Custody (CoC) standard of MSC. In 2020, AP2HI’s P&L tuna successfully obtained MSC certificate.

UNIDO supports development of Indonesian Good Aquaculture Practices (IndoGAP) as a third-party certification covering sustainability, safety and social aspects. In 2015, the programme supported the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF) to join the pilot benchmarking of Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative as a basis for further developing the IndoGAP standard and certification scheme in line with FAO guidelines. The IndoGAP certification is planned to be fully assessed by the GSSI in 2022.

Looking to build future human resources in line with sustainable industry, UNIDO has supported the Jakarta Polytechnique University of Fisheries to diversify degree courses in aquaculture, fisheries and seafood processing technologies and engineering, and mainstreamed sustainability, productivity, traceability and innovation in university curriculum and course outlines.