Credible sustainability standards continue to grow

Palm seeds © Bremen Yong for Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil
The latest market data on voluntary sustainability standards shows a clear trend: the production volume and number of certified products from almost all standards have increased over the past five years.

This second annual global report, ‘State of Sustainable Markets 2017: Statistics and Emerging Trends’, covering 14 sustainability standards, shows continued growth across all products and all standards.

The share of standard compliant area reached double digits in 2015 with more than 25 per cent of land used for coffee production, 16 per cent of land used for cocoa production, 15 per cent of land used for oil palm production, and 14 per cent of land used for tea production meeting the criteria of sustainability standards.

The cotton standard compliant area nearly quadrupled between 2011 and 2015, while the banana compliant area almost tripled, and the tea compliant area more than doubled in the same timeframe. The soy and cotton compliant area both grew by close to 50 per cent between 2014 and 2015.

In 2015, more than 50.9 million hectares were certified organic, representing 1.1 per cent of the global agricultural land. The single-commodity Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certified almost 3.5 million hectares, making it the standard with the second-largest area, representing 0.07 per cent of the global agricultural area. GLOBALG.A.P. had more than 3.1 million hectares.

Most of the standards covered experienced significant growth between 2011 and 2015.  

The ‘State of Sustainable Markets 2017: Statistics and Emerging Trends’ is the second joint report between the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), and the International Trade Centre (ITC).

The report presents data that helps small firms take advantage of trends to supply consumers with products that are environmentally sustainable and socially responsible. ISEAL members are building demand for sustainable products in cotton, coffee, carpets, fuel, toys, seafood and many goods. It’s through our collective power that we are tackling global challenges. ISEAL has long championed trust and credibility in sustainability standards, and ISEAL's Credibility Principles remain the core values upon which member standards are built.

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Read examples from recent research illustrating the positive effect of full ISEAL membership on transparency, accessibility and rigour of a standards system.