Trade for Sustainable Development (T4SD) Forum


    Trade for Sustainable Development (T4SD) is a go-to source of information on voluntary sustainability standards. Our annual forum is one of ITC’s leading global events on sustainable value chains, exploring the latest hot topics in sustainable trade, bringing together leading speakers from a cross-section of fields.

    Past events

    From factory collapses to dam failures and mine disasters – the past two decades have seen a string of tragedies exposing the life-threatening risks in supply chains. Such incidents not only revealed the dire conditions faced by upstream workers, but also shined a light on the need for better risk monitoring in value chains.

    Along with social concerns, environmental challenges have further strained supply chains, with climate change amplifying cross-cutting issues.

    Policymakers around the globe responded with a patchwork of new laws, often at national levels, to prevent such incidents from re-occuring. However, there was a pressing need to develop international frameworks and enforcement mechanisms to streamline the national policies that were fragmented at best. Evolving policy landscape In light of these challenges, a growing movement emerged to safeguard human rights and protect environment in the global economy more effectively.

    ITC and its partners have recently pioneered public-private co-creation initiatives and pilots to assess the potential implications of due diligence regulations for MSMEs in producer countries, and published guidelines for designing effective and inclusive accompanying measures. Ultimately, as we gear up to achieve the sustainability moonshot, willthese initiatives launch us in the right direction?

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    Sustainable Trade: the Heart of the Post-COVID Global Economy

    Forty years ago, consumers thought very little about their products. Coffee was “just coffee”, and shoppers didn’t care much about where it came from, what variety it was, and even less about how it was produced.

    Over time, however, NGO-led initiatives lifted the curtain on production conditions, exposing the steep environmental and social costs of unsustainable sourcing. New sustainability concerns led to the emergence of Voluntary Sustainability Standards to monitor production practices and communicate sustainability efforts.

    In 2020, the eruption of COVID on the world stage profoundly altered the sustainability landscape. Suddenly, audits for voluntary standards had to be conducted remotely, companies had to reconfigure their supply chains, and small businesses had to adjust and innovate at lightning speed – all against the backdrop of an impending climate crisis.

    In light of these burning new challenges, has sustainability taken a back seat? Has the pandemic slowed the rise of these standards? How can small businesses, governments, and the financial sector make sense of the increasingly complex sustainability landscape? And what is the role of sustainability standards in post-COVID recovery?

    To address these questions, ITC brought together its network of partners and experts, and leverages 10 years of insight as the only global, neutral institution to map these standards.


    Emerging Stronger from the COVID-19 Crisis

    Virtual event

    As the world spins faster and faster towards a climate emergency, maintaining the status quo is no longer an option. And in a shifting global context where multilateralism is under threat, the need for swift, collaborative action has never been greater.

    The sixth edition of the Trade for Sustainable Development Forum focused on sustainability mainstreaming – the process of embedding sustainability into the DNA of every organization and every business. The three-day event looked at sustainability mainstreaming from every angle: from its policy implications to its implementation on the ground, from its environmental dimension to its social dimension, from SMEs to large corporations.

    7-9 October 2019, Geneva, Switzerland


    The fifth T4SD Forum discussed Sustainable Development Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production and its relationship with sustainable trade in global value chains.

    SDG 12 aims at “doing more and better with less”, by promoting a more resource efficient economy and encouraging industries, companies and consumers to move towards more sustainable patterns of consumption. For global value chains, shifting towards greener production practices demands collaboration among all actors from producers to final consumers.

    The 2018 T4SD Forum aimed to:

    • Provide a unique platform to discuss sustainable trade practices and identify innovative best practices - vis-à-vis the implementation of SDG 12.
    • Identify challenges and opportunities for SMEs arising from a shift to a greener economy for the implementation of SDG 12.
    • Leverage ITC’s contribution to the Global Goals through support to SME international competitiveness for inclusive and sustainable growth through value addition, trade, investment and global partnerships.