While governments typically try to promote sustainable development objectives by implementing policies and regulations relating mostly to product characteristics, non-governmental organizations and private companies are developing voluntary sustainability standards (VSS) to inform consumers about production and processing methods. The UNFSS activities will primarily focus on such voluntary standards which can be sub-divided into several categories, such as business-to-business standards, consumer-oriented standards, meta standards that cover several issues and product groups, issue- and commodity-specific standards, as well as company group or company-specific standards. The Forum intends to cover standards related to all three pillars of sustainable development, i.e. economic, social and environmental. During the first phase of work, the emphasis will be on agri-food VSS and energy/ resources/climate-change-related VSS (see Agri/Food and Material/ resource/ energy efficiency sections) – especially taking into account the link between food production and climate-change mitigation/ adaptation.
UNFSS activities will contribute to poverty alleviation, strengthening of food security, improvement of resource/ material/ energy efficiency and enhanced mitigation of and adaptation to climate change.
Agriculture, resource/ energy use and climate change are inherently interlinked and mutually reinforcing: On the one hand, the agricultural sector is critical for climate change mitigation – at least a third of global GHG emissions arise from this sector (if agricultural input, machinery and equipment, processing, transport and food consumption-related emissions are added, agriculture’s share might come close to half of total GHG emissions). Food security, on the other hand, is severely undermined by the effects of climate change, while a more sustainable use of energy and natural resources (in particular soil and water) can help to mitigate the latter and significantly improve the resilience and adaptation capacity to climate change.
Thus, by addressing these areas, UNFSS activities will contribute to poverty alleviation, strengthening of food security, improvement of resource/ material/ energy efficiency and enhanced mitigation of and adaptation to climate change.