Short courses for Permanent Missions in Geneva
Organized by the Division on Technology and Logistics, Knowledge Development Branch
Policy Capacity Building Section / P166 Courses
Voluntary Sustainability Standards and International Trade
Palais des Nations, Geneva (Hybrid)
Thursday, 27 April 2023 (10:00 to 13:00)

International trade is recognized as an engine for inclusive economic growth and poverty reduction that contributes to the promotion of sustainable development both by the 2030 Agenda and its accompanying SDGs as well as the Addis Ababa Agenda. However, it remains a considerable challenge to train policymakers to map out interlinkages between trade policy and sustainable development, let alone to ensure that trade policy outcome positively influence sustainable development. For this reason, implementing voluntary sustainability standards (VSS) related to products and production processes can ensure that products and production processes comply with a set of social, economic and/or environmental requirements in order to make global production more sustainable. VSS may generate higher productivity levels due to improved agricultural practices, training, input use, and technology transfers at the level of the producer, hence allowing for higher trade volumes. However, the reliance of VSS on audits to ensure compliance with their standards has been challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic. Relatedly, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, VSS may impede trade, especially for low-income countries. Certification, compliance, and monitoring costs make it difficult for some producers, especially smallholders, to obtain certification, and might drive them out of export markets. These costs are proportionally higher in countries with weak institutions and/or a fragile regulatory environment.

This course aims to provide Geneva-based delegates with:

  • the best practices of implementing Voluntary Sustainability Standards to pursue sustainable trade, especially for post-pandemic recovery,
  • the opportunities and challenges of using VSS to make trade more sustainable and inclusive for developing countries,
  • the capacity to strategize the building blocks of sustainable global value chains.

Last modified: Thursday, 14 December 2023, 1:45 PM