Sustainability Standards: From turf to trust
The session 'Linking supply and demand' explored platforms that have emerged to facilitate convergence and integration. Those featured were:
- GSCP Equivalence Process , a business-led global initiative to encourage best practices on work and environmental conditions in global supply chains;
- Farm Sustainability Assessment, a food and beverages industry-wide tool for farm-level assessment developed by SAI Platform;
- IDH’s Floriculture Sustainability Initiative, supporting leading actors in this sector to source sustainably;
- ITC’s own and widely-used Standards Map, organizing information on more than 150 sustainability systems.
As sustainability schemes proliferate, “transparency and comparability between schemes and benchmarking initiatives are driving change”, emphasised Philipp Schukat, Programme Director on Environmental and Social Standards at GIZ. Looking at “what works” and championing and scaling up the best performing standards were highlighted by the speakers.
Communication was singled out as the key – and probably the biggest challenge – to success in harmonizing efforts, and ultimately in connecting supply and demand. “Language matters,” added Bas van den Brink, Senior Program Manager at IDH.
A lively brainstorming session with the audience brought consensus on developing the concept of “shared value” as a template for balancing the burden from the small-scale producers; and incentives to adopt voluntary standards by poor smallholders who face additional cost.
Moving “from turf to trust” is the biggest challenge ahead, as a crowded standards marketplace moves towards harmonization, while maintaining some needed diversity.