A collection of all of the research and reports commissioned by ISEAL.
Explore ISEAL research
The business benefits of adopting sustainability standards: A review of literature and evidence in the last six years
Six years ago, ISEAL published a comprehensive review and synthesis of existing literature and evidence of the business benefits of using sustainability standards.
For companies working to improve sustainability performance within their supply chains, engaging in landscape and jurisdictional approaches is a way to take action at scale. This set of guiding practices for effective company actions in landscapes and jurisdictions aims to support companies taking this step.
ISEAL position paper on recommendations for strengthening the EU's deforestation-free supply chains proposal
On 17 November 2021, the European Commission published its Proposal for a Regulation on Deforestation-free Products (hereafter “the Proposal”). This position paper outlines how ISEAL believes this draft legislation should be adjusted to have a deeper impact on preventing deforestation.
This report presents methodology and results of the ISEAL Innovations Fund-supported project 'Codifying Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) in Voluntary Standards Systems', led by Equitable Origin
Working with smallholders - Insights on the reach and characteristics of smallholder farmers within ISEAL member schemes
ISEAL works to improve the credibility and impacts of sustainability standards and understanding impacts is an important strategic goal. This paper is the first attempt to draw on internal performance monitoring data of schemes and external research to analyse the reach and characteristics of smallholder farmers within ISEAL member agriculture schemes. This is the third in a series of collective reporting briefing papers researched by ISEAL as part of the ‘Demonstrating and Improving Poverty Impacts’ (DIPI) project.
This is a research report published by ISEAL and authored by Dr Emma Wilson. The report was developed as part of a collaboration between ISEAL and GIZ to support the work of sustainability standards in the metals, mining and minerals sector.
Reaching far and wide - Collective presence and growth trends of ISEAL member schemes across seven commodities
The paper provides insights on growth trends and geographic presence of seven ISEAL member schemes that are leading global agricultural standards across seven commodities. We focus on trends and presence in producing and exporting countries where these schemes are adopted, with a specific interest in presence in low and lower-income classified countries.
This report summarises an assessment of a range of leading metrics that can be used to credibly measure and report on performance over time and across multiple spatial scales. The research focuses on six critical sustainability issues: deforestation, biodiversity, water use, forced labour, poverty, and Greenhouse Gas emissions.
Briefing paper | Multiple certification patterns of ISEAL member schemes in the coffee and cocoa industries.
Report on ISEAL member collaboration on shared impact reporting.
Report | How sustainability standards can contribute to landscape approaches and zero deforestation (2016)
This report first examines how standards systems are being applied to landscapes and jurisdictions. It then explores factors that are important to the effective application of sustainability strategies at a landscape level and identifies opportunities to strengthen the role that standards systems can play in implementing those strategies.
This report looks at the issues facing small certified producers and their expectations and experiences of certification, and explores how standards can address producers’ needs and priorities.
VIA initiative summary: breaking through barriers in communicating the impact of sustainability standards
This document summarises the results of a pilot project coordinated by ISEAL to face the challenge of communicating the impacts of standards. It also reflects on the value of this pilot as a rich learning experience for all the individuals involved.
ISEAL report: Sustainability standards and the SDGs - evidence of ISEAL members’ contribution (2017)
This 2017 ISEAL report demonstrates how sustainability standards that are ISEAL members are already contributing to the SDGs, pulling together evidence, primarily from members’ evaluation studies and monitoring data and select external sources, of how certification is driving positive economic, social and environmental impacts in many sectors, resulting in measurable progress toward SDG targets.
Report | Evaluating the impact of sustainability standards on smallholders - Insights from three baseline studies
In this report ISEAL offers insights from three baselines of evaluations that it commissioned in 2015 and were published in June 2016
This research aims to contribute evidence of the Impacts of Voluntary Sustainability Standards as well as provide a working definition for the concept of systemic impacts.
This resource reviews the benefits and challenges of metrics alignment and data sharing for organisations, and provides a roadmap and considerations to help think through undertaking them. The guidance builds on learning's from a number of ISEAL, and ISEAL member projects that either focused on metrics alignment and or data sharing as an ultimate goal, or where metrics alignment and or data sharing were key activities within the project.
Baseline report | Evaluation of the Early Impacts of Sustainability Standards on Smallholder Coffee Farmers in Lampung and South Sumatra, Indonesia.
This baseline report presents the initial stage of a research project with the overarching goal to examine the impact on farmer livelihoods and poverty alleviation within Indonesian coffee-growing communities as a result of processes of verification or certification against different sustainability standards. These standards include the Common Code for the Coffee Community (4C) Code of Conduct, the Sustainable Agriculture Network/ Rainforest Alliance (SAN/RA) standard, and Utz Certification.
This methodological paper from ISEAL shares insights and lessons learned from three ongoing impact evaluations that completed their baseline in 2016 and are due for end line evaluation in 2019.
In this podcast, Carlos de los Rios from COSA discusses the final research report from an impact evaluation on the Impacts of Certification on Small Coffee Farmers Western Kenya, 2014-2017. The report was published in 2019. ISEAL and its members are working together on the Demonstrating and Improving Poverty Impacts (DIPI) program, to understand the contribution that certification systems can make to poverty alleviation and pro-poor development. ISEAL commissioned an evaluation to identify whether and how certification contributes to improving farmer livelihoods.
Evaluation of the early impacts of the Better Cotton Initiative on smallholder cotton producers in Kurnool District, India
This report presents the ﬁndings of a three-year study, funded by ISEAL, of the early impacts of the Better Cotton Initiative on smallholder cotton producers in Kurnool District, Andhra Pradesh, India.
Evaluation of the Impacts of Sustainability Standards on Smallholder Coffee Farmers in Southern Sumatra, Indonesia
In this podcast, Jeffrey Neilson from the University of Sydney discusses the research report on the Evaluation of the Impacts of Sustainability Standards on Smallholder Coffee Farmers in Southern Sumatra, Indonesia published in 2019.
Evaluation of the Impacts of Sustainability Standards on Smallholder Coffee Farmers in Southern Sumatra, Indonesia, Final Report
This report presents the results of a research project with the overarching goal to examine the impact on farmer livelihoods and poverty alleviation within Indonesian coffee-growing communities as a result of processes of certification against different sustainability standards. These standards include the Common Code for the Coffee Community (4C) and the Sustainable Agriculture Network/ Rainforest Alliance (SAN/RA) standard.
This report provides an endline status of the ISEAL-BSR project ‘Improving data and impact measurement for women in supply chains project’, which aimed to support standards in mainstreaming gender equality within their strategy, tools and systems.
Discussion paper and webinar on landscape and jurisdictional assurance and claims.
ISEAL report: The effectiveness of standards in driving adoption of sustainability practices: A State of Knowledge Review (2018)
This ISEAL commissioned report, carried out by 3keel and the University of Oxford, aims to understand the effectiveness of sustainability standards and certification tools in driving the adoption of more sustainable practices in certified entities, thereby contributing to the achievement of key sustainability outcomes.
Report | The effectiveness of standards in driving adoption of sustainability practices: A State of Knowledge Review
This ISEAL commissioned report, carried out by 3keel and the University of Oxford, aims to understand the effectiveness of sustainability standards and certification tools in driving the adoption of more sustainable practices in certified entities, thereby contributing to the achievement of key sustainability outcomes