The highest aim of the ISEAL Alliance is to improve impacts for people and the environment. ISEAL supports standards to measure their performance and put learning and improvement at the centre of their work. Sustainability schemes, such as those in the ISEAL community, address significant challenges in the world today and are one of the few proven vehicles for making production and trade more sustainable. However, there remains a critical need to understand more about the outcomes and long-term impact of certification on the ground and for standards to improve in the areas where they could be performing better.
A first step towards understanding schemes’ impacts is to have a better grasp on their reach and presence. Sustainability standards have had a strong and early presence in the agricultural sector and thirty years on, understanding their footprint in leading sectors is key. What are the trends for standards in key agricultural sectors? How do growth trends vary across commodities? Are standards moving from niche to mainstream or is growth plateauing? Which countries are reached and how deep is the presence?
The paper provides insights on growth trends and geographic presence of seven ISEAL member schemes that are leading global agricultural standards across seven commodities. We focus on trends and presence in producing and exporting countries where these schemes are adopted, with a specific interest in presence in low and lower-income classified countries.