Influencing change at a systemic level

Global sustainability challenges are complex problems and cannot be solved single-handedly. Recognizing this complexity, sustainability standards are increasingly applying a systemic approach to deepen their impact in addressing these challenges.

Driving systemic change

Many sustainability standards are considering the wider environment in which they operate, and are adopting systemic approaches to improve the uptake and impact of sustainable practices across whole sectors and regions. We are increasingly seeing sustainability standards adapt their strategies and operations to be more effective in local contexts, as well as forming partnerships with key stakeholders to transform entire sectors through sustainable production landscapes.

Building on ISEAL’s previous work, we developed a series of guidance that lays out the emerging good practices in each step of improving a sustainability strategy. These resources are intended to support sustainability standards as they carve out their role in driving change at a systemic level.

Pathway to improving strategies

Practical guidance

  • A framework for adapting and improving sustainability strategies This overarching guidance provides a practical framework that lays out key considerations for each step of an improvement strategy. It highlights emerging good practices on identifying, adapting, implementing and measuring the effects of a sustainability strategy.
  • Choosing effective strategies to drive sustainability improvement Diving into the practicalities, this guidance provides a useful decision-making framework to support sustainability standards assess whether the conditions of their specific context enable value-chain or systemic strategies. Commissioned from Aidenvironment, this framework can be practically applied to select the most effective strategies in different contexts.

    Supplementing this guidance, three ISEAL members - Fair Trade USA, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) piloted different strategies across a diverse range of contexts to improve their sustainability performance. Many practical lessons and insights have arisen from their work, which you can read about here.
  • Integrating systemic strategies into organizational practices In contexts that favor the uptake and use of systemic strategies, this guidance lays out key considerations for integrating these strategies into organizational practices. Commissioned from Aidenvironment, it also includes concrete examples and practical tips from ISEAL members.

For more information, contact Sheila Senathirajah:


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