What you measure matters.
Most sustainability standards are designed to specify management practices that producers and factories should follow to be eligible for certification, and thus deemed “responsible” or “sustainable”. This approach is challenging in that it doesn’t allow a certified entity to make a claim about specific aspects of their social and environmental performance, or changes in this performance over time. It also doesn’t allow standards to easily quantify their impacts.
In response, some standards have been experimenting with a number of innovations. Some have tried to convert the practices specified in their standards into outcome-based metrics and set specific performance targets. Others schemes have continued to follow a practice-based approach when designing their standard, but have complemented this with a set of metrics related to the sustainability goals they’re working to achieve. The SGDs are proving useful to help define these metrics and promote interoperability between sustainability tools that are using different strategies to achieve the same sustainability outcomes.
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