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The SCI considers ‘voluntary sustainability initiatives’ or VSI’s to be any non-mandatory, rules-based partnership or collaboration among multiple supply chain stakeholders aimed at improving the social, economic and environmental sustainability of commodity production and/or trade.

Examples of operational VSIs include; Fair Trade Labelling Organizations International, International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), Forest Stewardship Council, Marine Stewardship Council, The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, Global Compact, ISO 14000, Global Reporting Initiative, CERES Principles etc.

The SCI was formed in recognition of the many benefits which voluntary initiatives have the potential to bring to international trade including:

  • Higher and more stable revenues through the identification of sustainable products and markets
  • Better farm and business management practices among rural producers and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs)
  • Improved stakeholder awareness of market trends
  • Reduced stakeholder risk exposure to market volatility
  • More efficient and strategic natural resource use
  • Improved consistency, quality and supply of products to consumers
  • Improved consumer awareness of producer conditions through private sector communication channels
  • Improved coordination and efficiency of supply chain management
  • Increased private sector investment for sustainable production and consumption

Most importantly, VSI’s offer a vehicle for channelling a growing private sector interest in promoting sustainability towards common approaches and pooled investment. With the potential to create unified approaches and the economies of scale needed to bring about widespread change at the global level, voluntary supply-chain approaches are ready to establish a new paradigm for commodity production and trade and the SCI intends to help them reach this potential.

In addition to carrying out its own inter-initiative collaboration, the SCI is either a participant or member of the following cross-cutting initiatives also seeking to promote inter-initiative cooperation as a means to improving efficiency, transparency and effectiveness within the sector:

  • Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform
  • Sustainable Food Lab
  • International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling (ISEAL) Alliance
  • The World Bank’s Trade Standards Practitioners Network

For more information on some of the major standards and certification systems related to a broad range of sectors and regions within which the SCI operates please visit our partners at the Trade Standards Practitioners Network.


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