New website compares voluntary sustainability standards
Exporters, producers and retailers can now compare dozens of different voluntary standards in one place. The International Trade Centre’s (ITC) new Standards Map website (www.standardsmap.org) is the first comprehensive database on voluntary standards such as Fairtrade, Forest Stewardship Council, Marine Stewardship Council, GlobalG.A.P. and others.
Standards Map covers voluntary or ‘private’ standards developed by non-governmental organizations and private entities. Compliance with these standards is not legally required by governments or regulations, but it could lead to more sustainable environmental practices or potentially open up new markets.
Standards Map was set up by ITC as private standards experienced unprecedented growth, becoming in many cases de facto requirements for southern exporters wishing to enter developed country markets. Accompanying this growth is an increasing need for information and transparency.
‘Producers and exporters in the developing world often lack information when considering whether and how to engage in more sustainable production and trade practices,’ said Patricia R. Francis, Executive Director of ITC. ‘The same applies to their support organizations, be it trade support institutions or chambers of commerce. The Standards Map website provides a clear and simple way for businesses to make decisions on voluntary standards.’
There are currently 30 standards or codes of conduct available for comparison on the website. These standards operate in more than 180 countries and collectively certify or verify over 60 product groups. Additional standards will be continually added to the website. The website will be translated into Spanish and French by the end of February 2011.
ITC is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations and is devoted to enabling SMEs in developing countries to become more competitive in global markets and thus to speed up sustainable economic development and contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.