Workshop: Applying Voluntary Sustainability Standards in achieving biodiversity goals

Workshop: Applying Voluntary Sustainability Standards in achieving biodiversity goals
15 December 2023
08:30 - 17:30 hrs. ICT (GMT+7). Pan Pacific Hotel
, Viet Nam


Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS) are norms and standards that are used to ensure that a product is harvested, produced, processed or transported in accordance with certain sustainability metrics, such as environmental impact, basic human rights, labour standards and gender equality. Today close to 500 VSS exist, which apply to key exports of many countries such as coffee, tea, bananas, cocoa, palm oil, timber, cotton, spices and organic agri-foods.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development gives international trade a prominent role as “an engine for inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction”. With VSS increasingly being referenced in trade agreements to foster sustainable development and good governance, VSS can be an effective tool to provide incentives for governments and companies to adopt practices that are in line with environmental, social and economic objectives.

To this end, VSS can also play a vital role in biodiversity conservation. Biodiversity loss is accelerating at a record pace, in including marine, wetland, grassland and forest ecosystems. It is among the global top threats according to the World Economic Forum and the trade of unsustainable production and consumption patterns of biodiversity based products and services have been identified as one of the indirect drivers of biodiversity loss in a report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Effective tools and mechanisms are therefore essential to shifting the impact of global economic drivers on nature toward sustainably managing and conserving biodiversity and its ecosystems services.

Against this backdrop  United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation (Helvetas) and the Biotrade project of the Center for Rural Economy Development (CRED),  are jointly organizing a workshop aimed at fostering the uptake of sustainability standards and tools across supply chains. The event will convene a diverse range of stakeholders including government, companies, producers, traders, certifiers, and others who share the common concern of sustainability issues. The workshop is organized in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Partnership for Sustainable Agriculture in Viet Nam (PSAV).

UNCTAD’s work on VSS is developed under the Global BioTrade Programme “Linking trade, biodiversity and sustainable development” funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO. The outputs and recommendations from the workshop will be considered and further explored for the new trade and biodiversity programme under UNCTAD.


  • Provide recommendations to develop a supportive national regulatory framework that enables the use of standards in certification processes.
  • Increase awareness on the importance of the VSS and their role in supporting the development of sustainable supply chains and facilitating international trade of biodiversity-based products.
  • Provide knowledge on international standards as an effective tool for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity as well as support livelihoods.
  • Facilitate strengthening of public- private partnerships to promote the integration of sustainability standards in supply chains.

What will take place? 

This one-day hybrid workshop will take place on 15 December 2023. It includes in-person participation at the Pan Pacific Hotel in Hanoi Viet Nam and will also be streamed online. The workshop will be conducted in Vietnamese and English with simultaneous interpretation. 

Target audience

  • Government agencies working in the areas of trade, environment, biodiversity including Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT), Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE)
  • Cooperatives, chambers of commerce, social enterprises, business associations in Viet Nam which promote the interests of these businesses, foster economic growth, and facilitate trade and commerce within the region.
  • United Nations agencies, NGOs, development agencies and other international organization working on biodiversity, climate change, and trade projects.
  • Standard organizations and auditors 
  • BioTrade/biotrade companies 
  • European Union-based companies operating in Vietnam that import biodiversity-focused products.

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05 Dec 2023
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Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation, Center for Rural Economy Development (CRED)

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