New report highlights business opportunity using credible sustainability standards to achieve SDGs

New report highlights business opportunity using credible sustainabilityIn order to survive, all life, including human life, depends either directly or indirectly on the natural environment. Sustainability is a principle where current requirements are met while the livelihoods of future generations are not threatened. standards to achieve SDGsSince Rio+20, there is commitment for the of post-2015 development goals to take over after the Millennium Development Goals and the establishment of the new Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs.

Posted on 14 February 2017    

“SDGs mean business: How credible standards can help companies deliver the 2030 Agenda” focuses on the importance of credible, voluntary sustainability standards as one of the tools that businesses can use to contribute toward the Sustainable Development GoalsSince Rio+20, there is commitment for the of post-2015 development goals to take over after the Millennium Development Goals and the establishment of the new Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs. (SDGs)

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A new report published by WWF and ISEAL indicates how businesses can contribute strongly to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable DevelopmentThe concept of sustainable development was introduced in the World Conservation Strategy (IUCN 1980) and had its roots in the concept of a sustainable society and in the management of renewable resources. Adopted by the WCED in 1987 and by the Rio Conference in 1992 as a process of change in ... and unlock new market opportunities by using credible voluntary sustainability standards to transform entire sectors and supply chains.
 
The report, “SDGs mean business: How credible standards can help companies deliver the 2030 Agenda” illustrates how such standards – ready-made tools for businesses and supply chain actorsThe stakeholder is a person, group, or entity who has a direct or indirect role and interest in the goals or objectives and implementation of a program/intervention and/or its evaluation. (Glossary Monitoring and Evaluation Terms; MERG Monitoring & Evaluation Reference Group and UNAIDS) – can help accelerate progress on many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) while delivering direct benefits for companies and small-scale producers.

Credible, multi-stakeholderThe stakeholder is a person, group, or entity who has a direct or indirect role and interest in the goals or objectives and implementation of a program/intervention and/or its evaluation. (Glossary Monitoring and Evaluation Terms; MERG Monitoring & Evaluation Reference Group and UNAIDS) standards embody the partnership spirit of the SDGs, bringing together businesses, NGOs, governments and others to work toward common goals that benefit business, people and the planet. They are an important mechanism to help companies reach their targetsTarget period: For multi-year goals, a period of several consecutive years over which the mitigation goal is to be achieved. The last years of the goal period. Target year: For single-year goals, the year by which the goal is to be met. The last year of the goal period. Target year emissions: ... by scaling-up sustainable practices. Tried and tested on the ground, they can be used at every link in the value chain – enabling producers, harvesters and processors to achieve a recognized level of sustainability, and traders, manufacturers and retailers to address the impacts of their supply chains.
 
Sustainability standards translate the broad concept of sustainability into specific, concrete measures for companies and their suppliers. With broad uptake, they can move whole industries toward improved social, environmental and economic performance. This can make a major contribution to the SDGs.

Net benefits

Many farmers using sustainability standards have seen net increases in their incomes due to productivity and quality improvements. For example, the BCI’s 2014 Harvest Report found farmers following the BCI standard across seven countries had significantly higher yields (ranging from +11 per cent in China and India to more than +50 per cent in Tajikistan and Mozambique) and higher profits per hectare than conventional cotton farmers, while using less waterClimate change is expected to exacerbate current stresses on water resources from population growth and economic and land-use change, including urbanisation. On a regional scale, mountain snow pack, glaciers and small ice caps play a crucial role in freshwater availability. Widespread mass ... and chemical inputs. For certified coffee farmers, this has translated among other benefits to improved school attendance of their children.
 
In Indonesia, Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) smallholder certification is taking pressure off elephants and tigers in Tesso Nilo National Park where French retailer Carrefour has been working with WWF to support smallholders to achieve RSPO certification. Smallholders taking part in the projectProject is an intervention designed to achieve specific objectives within specified resources and implementation schedules, often within the framework of a broader program. (Glossary Monitoring and Evaluation Terms; MERG Monitoring & Evaluation Reference Group and UNAIDS) have managed to increase productivity through better management practices, without expanding into the national park.
 
For businesses certification helps to manage risk. The social and environmental impacts of palm oil production for example represent a significant risk for investors. To mitigate these risks, a number of finance institutions, including the International Finance Corporation, Credit Suisse and Rabobank, require their clients to achieve RSPO certification.
 
Key elements of a credible sustainability standard include:

  • Multistakeholder participation: a standard’s requirements should be developed and governed through a multistakeholder process, involving representatives from across the entire supply chain from businesses, civil society, governments, research institutions and NGOs, with balanced decision-making. This should ensure the standard has positive social and environmental impacts, while also being practically and economically viable for large-scale uptake.
  • Transparency: details of the standard, how it is applied and how decisions are made, including certification assessments, should be clear and publicly available.
  • Independent verification: compliance with the standard should be verified by an accredited, independent third party auditor or certification body. Impartial and periodic field-level verification is essential to understand whether a standard is actually achieving its mission.
  • Continuous improvement: the standard and the system should be regularly reviewed to incorporate the latest information and lessons learnedLearning from experience that is applicable to a generic situation rather than to a specific circumstance. (UNDP)Generalizations based on evaluation experiences with projects, programs, or policies that abstract from the specific circumstances to broader situations. Frequently, lessons highlight ... and ensure it delivers it goals..

Visit the ISEAL website for a full list of ISEAL members.

More examples can be found in the report
 

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