Over the last two decades a growing number of voluntary sustainability initiatives and other multi-stakeholder alliances have emerged to improve the livelihoods of the millions of commodity-dependant producers and manufacturers around the world. The multiplicity of these initiatives makes it increasingly challenging for stakeholders to stay informed on their utility, performance and best practices.
The State of Sustainability Initiatives (SSI) project is a product of multi-stakeholder meetings (2003- 2006) on sustainable commodities production and trade, facilitated by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) under the auspices of the Sustainable Commodity Initiative (SCI).
Building on requests for improved information on the impacts and opportunities associated with Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS), the SCI, through a special partnership with the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and Aidenvironment, launched the SSI project in 2008.
The SSI Project
The State of Sustainability Initiatives (SSI) project seeks to enhance global understanding and learning about the role and potential of market-based voluntary sustainability initiatives (VSS) such as eco-labels, sustainability standards and roundtables in the promotion of sustainable development. By providing objective, reliable and timely information on the characteristics, performance and market trends associated with voluntary sustainability initiatives, the SSI will facilitate more strategic decision-making and continual improvement across VSS.
The three main project activities to achieve the SSI objective are:
The SSI Review
The SSI Review is an independent evidence-based report on the characteristics, performance and market trends related to sustainability initiatives. The SSI Review aims to provide supply chain decision-makers-including procurement agents, investment advisors, CEOs, policy-makers, sustainability initiatives and NGOs-with high-level data and analysis needed to navigate the increasingly complex field of sustainability standards.
The 2014 Review includes 16 leading initiatives operating in the forestry, soy, palm oil, sugar, biofuels, coffee, tea, cocoa, banana and cotton sectors including: 4C Association, Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), BonSucro (BSI), Cotton Made in Africa (CmiA), Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP), Fairtrade International (FLO), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Global Partnership for Good Agricultural Practice (GLOBALG.A.P), International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes (PEFC), Round Table on Responsible Soy Association (RTRS), Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB), Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSP), Rainforest Alliance / Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), Proterra, and UTZ Certified (UTZ).
Data collection for the SSI is a collaborative process with a wide variety of data providers. The main providers of primary data in the SSI 2014 are the standards bodies covered in the report. The SSI team works closely with these initiatives to provide the greatest degree of flexibility and sensitivity to specific conditions while maintaining objectivity. All data and analysis in the 2014 Review is verified by participating standard-setting bodies, the SSI high level advisory panel as well as a team of independent commodity experts.
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