The State of Sustainability Initiatives Review 2014 reports on systems and market trends across 16 of the most important voluntary sustainability standards initiatives, including FSC, Fairtrade, BCI, Bonsucro, Rainforest Alliance, UTZ, 4C, RSPO and RSB, across 10 key commodity sectors; banana, bio-fuels, cocoa, coffee, cotton, forestry, palm-oil, soy bean, sugar and tea. This report uses data from ITC’s Standards Map Database and from communications with standard-setting bodies and from third-party literature.
The report finds, in terms of reach of standards, “the average annual growth rate of standard-compliant production across all commodity sectors in 2012 was 41 per cent” and “significant market penetration in several commodity markets. For example, standard-compliant coffee… reached a 40 per cent market share of global production in 2012 (up from 15 per cent in 2008)”. It also found “supply of sustainable products is concentrated in select regions with more developed production capacity. Across developing countries, sustainable production is concentrated in Latin America.”
Stakeholder participation in supply chain decision making is explored in the report and it is reported that “whereas conventional commercial relationships rely principally on agreement between buyer and seller, sustainability standards have done a good job at integrating non-traditional perspectives into supply chain decision making by the standard-setting and implementation process, as represented by board member representation. Although developed country representation is still dominant across most boards, developing country representation is significant and remarkable.” Another report finding is that “sustainability standards are strengthening the reliability of market claims through increasingly independent monitoring and enforcement processes” with “all of the initiatives surveyed [having] applied some form of third-party conformity assessment procedure”.
The report concludes “voluntary sustainability standards offer an important contribution to the green economy by helping “the market better achieve full-cost accounting in the pricing mechanism” and facilitating “investment in sustainable technologies and practices”. This is thought to depend, however, on the ability to link “product sustainability claims to truly sustainable outcomes on the ground” and “public policy and related ‘non-market’ frameworks creating a level and transparent playing field in the standards sector”.
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