Taking Stock of the Current Research on the Impacts of Voluntary Sustainability Standards (With Particular Emphasis on the Agri-Food Sector) Based on a 4‐Part Literature Review Series Published by the International Trade Centre (ITC)
13 Pages Posted: 31 Aug 2013
Date Written: February 1, 2013
Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS) have the potential to generate distinct economic and social development opportunities and can help to mitigate economic, food, water, and environmental risks in developing countries. However, the research about the impacts of VSS focuses on a few standards, products and countries, usually in response to project evaluation needs. The most common methodology used is case studies, often conducted by the VSS themselves. While they provide rich qualitative information about the complexity of the impacts of VSS, they do not provide much empirical evidence based on comparative analyses and generally do not allow for the identification of correlation between the variables. There is also a focus on the production side of the value chain. Overall, a systematic evaluation of value chain impacts across VSS and products providing quantitative, statistically valid data is lacking. However, the research does provide some qualitatively rich findings, which are summarized in this paper according to four areas: 1. The impacts of VSS on global supply chains; 2. The impacts of VSS on producers and exporters; 3. The interplay of regulation and VSS; 4. When do VSS work?
These areas have been selected according to their relevance to policymakers in developing countries and their prevalence in research. The following provides a short outline of the research findings related to each of these areas.
Keywords: Voluntary sustainability standards, impacts, global supply chains, producers, agriculture, international trade
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