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6 - Voluntary Standards, Trade, and Sustainable Development

from Part III - Bottom-Up: Private Sector and Civil Society Initiatives on the Sustainable Development Goals

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 September 2020

Cosimo Beverelli
World Trade Organization
Jürgen Kurtz
European University Institute, Florence
Damian Raess
World Trade Institute, University of Bern
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Voluntary sustainability standards (VSS) seek to improve social and economic outcomes in developing nations through voluntary commitments by firms located in these countries, who can advertise their adherence to the standard through certification and associated labels. VSS are a potential instrument to help achieve some of the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but the current empirical evidence on their effectiveness is mixed. Distinguishing between Fair Trade VSS developed by non-governmental organizations and corporate-backed private VSS, this chapter disentangles the possible channels through which these two types of VSS regimes may impact on trade and, in turn, on SDGs. We review the evidence in the light of these channels, finding important differences between the two categories of VSS.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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