Standards & Certification at Rio+20: Catalysing the Green Economy

In a short time, ISEAL and a number of its members will be convening in Rio de Janeiro for the Rio+20 Earth Summit in a culmination of months of work to promote the value of credible standards for sustainable development and encourage their recognition by key international actors. Here is a look at the activities we have planned ahead of the conference.

With less than two weeks to go, ISEAL is finalising its preparations for the Rio+20 Earth Summit, taking place from 20-22 June 2012. ISEAL is optimistic that the much anticipated conference will result in renewed international support for sustainability and enthusiasm for credible sustainability standards as viable tools for achieving sustainable development.

The success of the conference will be determined by its ability to transform the rhetorical support for sustainable development into practical solutions that governments and businesses can implement to drastically improve the state of the global environment. For the past months, ISEAL has been coordinating with a number of members to promote the value of standards and advocate for a clear recognition of standards and certification in the Rio+20 outcome documents.

While new solutions are certainly needed, Rio+20 provides an opportunity to reflect on which tools have delivered genuine sustainability impact and deserve to be scaled-up. ISEAL members and partners strongly believe that sustainability standards and certification are effective drivers of sustainable development and their further uptake should be encouraged. With a significant market share in coffee, cocoa, timber and wild-catch fish, as well as an expanding presence in sectors such as sugar, palm oil, tourism and mining, sustainability standards are positioned to transform production in a number of sectors.

But to reach their full global potential, sustainability standards need strong action on the part of market leaders, supply chain actors and governments to engage with standards to advance sustainability objectives. ISEAL and its members activities at Rio+20 are shaped around the objective of demonstrating, through concrete examples, how credible standards can help drive the transition to a greener economy.

ISEAL's Official Side Event

For those attending the Rio+20 Summit, we encourage you to join us for the official ISEAL event on 17 June, from 09:30-11:00 at the RioCentro (T2) in Rio de Janeiro - Standards, Certification and Labelling Schemes: Drivers of Sustainable Consumption and Production.

Co-organised with Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), the session will discuss sustainability standards in forestry, mining and agriculture and advocate for government support for scaling up. Speakers will include:

  • Hans-Peter Egler, Head of Trade Promotion for SECO;
  • Fábio Vaz de Lima, State Secretary of Development, Science, Technology and Industry for Acre Province Brazil;
  • Roberto Smeraldi, co-founder and director of Amigos da Terra - Amazônia Brasileira;
  • Joaquim Libânio, the president of the largest coffee cooperative in Brazil (Cooxupé) and
  • Jon Samuel, Anglo American’s Head of Social Performance

The panellists who will show how their organisation’s use and endorsement of sustainability standards has contributed to positive sustainable development outcomes.

For full information about the official ISEAL Side Event, click here

How standards and certification can help achieve sustainable cities: Lessons from the forestry sector

ISEAL and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) will also partner on a session on 20 June from 12:30-13:30 at Athlete's Park to show how certification can support sustainable public procurement and how city officials can use FSC to identify and promote sustainable forest products. ISEAL will introduce its new project in partnership with SECO that focuses on the use of standards in sustainable public procurement and FSC will highlight their certification and labelling scheme for timber and paper products as well as their new sustainable cities initiative.

ISEAL Member Events

Many ISEAL members are also leading their own side events at Rio+20.

The official FSC event - Forest Certification as a Contribution to Sustainable Development: The work and impacts of FSC - takes place on 13 June from 13:30-15:00 at RioCentro T3. FSC is also leading a session on 16 June on the topic of certification as a tool for greening economies, in addition to participating in various other side events. For full information about FSC's involvement at Rio+20 click here.

The Union for Ethical BioTrade (UEBT) is participating in a BioTrade Congress, organised by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, taking place on 18 June at the Novo Mundo Hotel. At 09:30 UEBT will be facilitating a panel to highlight the importance of fair and equitable benefit sharing in the ethical sourcing of biodiversity, with concrete examples from companies. At 16:00 UEBT will be presenting the main findings of the 2012 Biodiversity Barometer, an annual overview of biodiversity awareness among consumers.

The Alliance for Water Stewardship is co-hosting an event entitled Corporate Water Stewardship & Innovative Partnerships, which will take place from 14:00-15:30 on 16 June at the Windsor Barra Hotel. The session will explore ways in which the AWS’ International Water Stewardship Standard and other tools can go beyond their perceived scope (certification and business engagement) and help to stimulate the innovative and cross-sectoral partnerships that are needed to achieve watershed-level sustainability.

For further information about ISEAL's participation at Rio+20, contact Norma Tregurtha, ISEAL's Senior Policy Manager, at