What are Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS)


What are Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS)?

Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS) are special rules that guarantee that the products you buy don't hurt the environment and the people that make them.

The number of these standards has grown recently and they can now help build a new, greener economy.

Voluntary Sustainability Standards:

  focus on economic sectors like forestry, farming, mining or fishing

   concentrate on environmental factors like protecting water sources and biodiversity, or reducing greenhouse gas emissions

   support social protections and workers’ rights

   home in on specific parts of production processes

Voluntary Sustainability Standards also:

   support groups like small-scale farmers or producers in developing countries

  cover a full range of environmental impacts throughout a product’s lifecycle

   identify and promote best practice

   support continuous improvement

Voluntary Sustainability Standards may be developed by single businesses, business associations, environmental or social non-governmental organizations, or governments.

Alternatively, more and more such standards try to balance the interests of a wide range of interested parties.

While many Voluntary Sustainability Standards are linked with consumer products, others are used within business-to-business relationships.

For example, Global G.A.P. (Good Agricultural Practices) is a farm management certification scheme pioneered by supermarkets. Another example is ISO26000 which provides guidance to businesses and other organizations on social responsibility to improve their impact on workers, natural environments and communities.

How can Voluntary Sustainability Standards Help Developing Countries?

Voluntary Sustainability Standards have the potential to generate significant environmental, economic and social benefits in developing countries. But decision makers in developing countries often say they have problems with Voluntary Sustainability Standards because:

   they can’t find credible standards

   compliance is costly

   small-scale producers risk being left out

   standards are not harmonized causing unnecessary multiplication

The United Nations Forum on Sustainability Standards (UNFSS) was created to respond to these challenges.

It supports decision makers in developing countries find the right information on Voluntary Sustainability Standards, as well as share their experiences and get technical help.

UNFSS is a neutral, independent and credible forum that supports pro-poor sustainable development objectives, and helps developing countries get access to global markets as the economic, social and environmental impacts of production and consumption play an increasingly important role in shaping consumer choices.

Source: https://unfss.org/home/about-unfss/