ISEAL receives Swiss government support for its innovations programme

Agave field © Eugenio Fernández Vázquez, 2011, Rainforest Alliance
Agave field © Eugenio Fernández Vázquez, 2011, Rainforest Alliance
Earlier this year ISEAL announced it would be driving innovation in standards systems through a new programme and a dedicated fund. That fund has now gotten a significant boost through support from the Swiss government.

The Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) has re-affirmed its long-standing engagement in the field of private, voluntary sustainability standards through the launch of its own Transparency and Innovation of Sustainability Standards (TISS) Programme this month.  Through the TISS Programme, SECO will be channelling a total CHF 10 million over four years to two partners: ISEAL and the International Trade Centre (ITC).  TISS is focused on fostering transparent and credible information on standards (through ITC’s work, such as its excellent Standards Map tool for comparing standards) as well as on increasing the impacts and efficiency of standards through innovations (through ISEAL’s innovations programme).

Said Christian Robin, Deputy Division Head of the Economic Affairs area of SECO: “we are supporting ISEAL because we see them as the centre of excellence and competence for the whole sustainability standards movement. ISEAL is working to bring standards to the next level, so they become the market driven tools that have the potential to transform entire sectors and to reach out effectively to small holders.”

ISEAL members are collectively recognising that their approach is at a real turning point. They must both drive sustainability at scale and improve and evolve the approach to be strong partners in sector transformation. ISEAL is driving the innovations programme to be learning and improvement focused, with peer-to-peer working groups as the main method that brings the entire standards community forward.  The dedicated fund already has support from the UK Government, and the US-based Walton Family Foundation and Packard Foundation, but has now been augmented with 5 million CHF from SECO. 

The fund lies at the heart of ISEAL’s programme and is the primary vehicle through which standards systems are testing their innovations and improving the effectiveness and accessibility of their systems. The fund is open to projects led by ISEAL members and focused on any topic that improves the effectiveness, efficiency and value of standards systems.

Christian adds, “It’s the stakeholders behind the standards who make the difference. Voluntary sustainability standards are really a measurement of the level of ambition and engagement of all of us - companies, governments, civil society. So really, we are all in the driver’s seat to scale up sustainability through improved and better use of this important tool.”

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For more information on ISEAL’s innovations programme, click here.

The innovations fund is open to ISEAL members.  To learn more or to apply, click here.