With almost one third of the global population dependent upon commodity production for their livelihoods, and commodity production as one of the most important sources of environmental degradation, there is a deep need for more proactive and collaborative sustainability strategies in commodity production and trade at a global level.
In the last decade more than 20 new global voluntary sustainability initiatives have been established with the aim to leverage market forces to promote sustainable development.
The growth of voluntary initiatives has increased the opportunities for consumers and other stakeholders to support sustainability but it also raises a growing number of questions, such as;
- What are the actual social, economic and environmental impacts of different voluntary initiatives?
- What are the costs associated with implementing initiatives and who should pay those costs?
- Is the infrastructure needed to enable efficient implementation of voluntary initiatives on a global scale readily available?
- Are gains possible through enhanced coordination between initiatives and sharing of best practice?
- Are there situations where complementary policy support is needed to maximize positive uptake and impact?
By seeking answers to these questions, the SCI aims to contribute to a forward-looking agenda of policy and initiative development – strengthening the long term sustainability impact and reach of voluntary initiatives.
Based on a growing recognition of the opportunities and challenges facing the growth of voluntary sustainability initiatives (VSI’s) in commodity sectors, the SCI was initially launched in 2003 by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).