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Joseph Wozniak

International Trade Centre

Joseph (Joe) Wozniak is the director of the Trade for Sustainable Development (T4SD) Programme at the International Trade Centre, Geneva, Switzerland. Joe has over 12 years of experience in sustainable development in the public and private sectors. He holds a Master's Degree in International Relations and International Economics from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and an Executive Certificate in International Business and Management from Georgetown University.
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publication
Institutional design of voluntary sustainability standards systems: Evidence from a new database

Voluntary sustainability standards (VSS) have become a significant element of the governance of international trade and production. Even though VSS are not mandatory (required by law), in practice they are often necessary for producers to participate in global value chains. Finally, VSS are often considered costly for producers. This article provides an overview of the global VSS landscape, and addresses the following questions: how producer‐friendly are VSS, and how do their practices towards producers vary with relevant features of VSS institutional design? The analysis is empirical, and it is based on a data collection project called Standards Map (SM), launched in 2011 by the International Trade Centre (ITC). The analysis covers a population of up to 180 VSS. This large‐n approach allows for a macro‐perspective which complements the existing literature characterized by micro‐level studies. Our analysis documents a significant heterogeneity in producer‐friendly practices across VSS. We find that participation in meta‐governance organizations (such as ISEAL full membership) is strongly associated with producer‐friendly practices. Moreover, the location of headquarters in Organisation for Economic Co‐operation and Development (OECD) member countries, the engagement of buyers in the board or management of the scheme and the influence of producers in decision‐making are also positively associated with our measures of producer friendliness, although these relationships are found to be less robust. The dimension of VSS we have focused on is just one element of the information contained in the SM database. Other relevant dimensions of standards systems, such as the structure of requirements, their product scope—and other aspects of institutional design, such as verification procedures, stakeholder engagement, harmonization or convergence vs. competition between different schemes—can all be analysed using the database. We hope the descriptive analysis undertaken in this article will help the research community to make better use of this source of information.

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publication
Suppliers’ access to voluntary sustainability standards

Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS) have long become a usual attribute of international production and trade. Despite the fact that VSS are not legally binding, in order to be a part of global value chains, they have become de facto mandatory, and non-compliance may lead to exclusion of producers from the value chains. The relevance of VSS is reflected by a growing literature across social sciences, in particular economics and political science. This paper describes a new database that collects comparable information on 180 standards and their governance structure, across a wide range of products and countries. We conduct a first empirical analysis of this data with a primary focus on two aspects of standards and their governance: their practices and features in support of producers, and their geographic availability. We find high variability of support and availability across standards systems and countries respectively. Finally, we identify standards- and country-specific features associated with higher support to producers and higher geographic availability.

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publication
Social and environmental standards: Contributing to more sustainable value chains
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publication
Corporate Social Responsibility and the Role of Voluntary Sustainability Standards

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is becoming a standard feature particularly for large and consumer-oriented firms. What started in the late 1960s as something closer to charity or philanthropy has evolved dramatically in recent years. Yet, as actualization of the CSR concept is increasingly explored and becoming better-defined, there is limited understanding of how to operationalize CSR and how to manage it for desirable results at the ground level. This gap is particularly salient in the purchasing relationships with producers in developing countries. Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS) such as Organic, Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, Forest Stewardship Council, Ethical Tea Partnership, Global G.A.P., and UTZ Certified present an important step in this process but, like many tools, require some learning.

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