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Voluntary Sustainability Standards, Trade and Sustainable Development
Book Information
3rd Flagship Report of the United Nations Forum of Sustainability standards (UNFSS)


The 3rd UNFSS Flagship is set to impart an agenda surrounding Voluntary Sustainability Standards (thereafter known as VSS) and its relation to trade issues, in particular the impact of VSS on market access.

Where traditional trade theory is concerned, the focus has been mainly tied to tariffs and non-tariff measures.

Given the increasing increasing influence of VSS over export opportunities in recent years, the objective of this report is to provide an in-depth understanding of VSS from trade policy perspective and explore how trade can shape the influence of VSS on developing countries’ market access.

The key questions of this report include:

  • What are the impacts of VSS from the trade policy perspective?

  • What sustainability concerns do VSS address?

  • Do VSS have significant impact upon developing countries trade success and in their achievements of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

  • What can public actors do to support VSS’ contribution to trade opportunities?

  • What can potentially be the stipulated roles of global governance?

The relationship between VSS, trade and sustainable development are among the most pronounced concepts sought-after the realm of green global value chains. The intent of the 3rd UNFSS Flagship aims to address these topics in two chapters.

The first chapter analyzes the effects of VSS in the global economy by identifying the direct and indirect effects of VSS on sustainable development and trade, providing benchmarking analysis with reference to the 2030 SDG agenda, determining the indirect effects of VSS as either a market access enabler or barrier, that eventually ensues policy considerations in the effort to strengthen VSS through public governance.

The second chapter complements the first chapter with a focus on the National VSS Multi-Stakeholder approaches, which predominantly sees the evolution of VSS taking shape in developing countries, followed by the national platform establishment experiences and knowledge-sharing contributions provided by Brazil, China and India as pilots of this initiative.

The United Nations Forum on Sustainability Standards(UNFSS)


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