Increasing uptake with governments

Photo © ISEAL Alliance
Photo © ISEAL Alliance
Sustainability standards are starting to play a deeper role in how governments implement policy and meet sustainability targets. ISEAL engages with governments to build understanding of what makes a standard credible and how to use standards and certification.

As sustainability standards demonstrate their impacts and increase their influence in global markets, opportunities for working more closely with governments have grown. From incentivising industry uptake to incorporating standards directly into legislation, public sectors have a range of options for using standards, but they need clarity to ensure their approaches are effective.

ISEAL aims to support governments to determine which standards are credible, and to maximise the value of standards as a sustainable development tool. With our expertise and convening power, we seek to advance knowledge and address issues such as:

  • Collaboration and interface between national and international standards
  • How standards can be a tool for sustainable trade
  • Government benchmarking and recognition of credible standards
  • How to effectively build standards into public procurement

Currently, ISEAL is especially focused on sustainable public procurement, which we have identified as a primary vehicle through which governments can use standards and a departure point for them to apply standards more broadly.

ISEAL also focuses on playing a strong advocacy role within the standards movement to create an enabling policy environment for the increased adoption of credible standards. 

Government use of sustainability standards

Credible standards and certification are one of the few proven approaches for making production and consumption more responsible. Standards represent a viable pathway for governments to advance their sustainability goals and can complement other strategies and tools. The diverse and dynamic roles that sustainability standards can play are just beginning to be realised. They include:

  1. Improving the social and environmental performance of public bodies or assets
  2. Referencing or endorsing credible standards in guidance or legislation
  3. Recognising certification as proof of compliance with government requirements
  4. Implementing policies or regulations that favour certified products in procurement
  5. Using standards as input into the development of government regulations or standards

In recent years, we have seen engagement between governments and standards increase and many examples of ISEAL member standards systems and other schemes being incorporated into public policy.

  • EU recognition of Bonsucro and Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials in its Renewable Energy Directive
  • Innovative London Olympics food vision which stipulated Fairtrade certification for all coffee, tea, sugar and bananas
  • UK Timber Public Procurement Policy which recognises FSC certication as evidence of sustainability and legality
  • Brazilian governments engaging with Green Building Council / LEED to develop own sustainability criteria
  • MSC, FSC, and SA8000 certification of state-owned fisheries, forests and factories across the world

Further information

Related information and resources

10YFP SPP&CI-SCP Programmes - WG4b2 Webinar: New tools and guidance for sustainable procurers

This webinar highlights two new tools that will support the implementation of sustainable public procurement.

G7 countries commit to supporting sustainability standards

The Group of Seven (G7) informal bloc of industrialised countries issued a new agenda which aims to foster sustainable supply chains, including through enhancing the implementation of sustainability standards and creating greater awareness around them.

ISEAL recommends certification play stronger role in SDG indicators

The Sustainable Development Goals have been adopted, but the indicators can be improved. ISEAL has issued a statement stressing the need to adopt indicators which accurately reflect verified changes in performance as opposed to unverified commitments or claims.

ISEAL Statement on SDG indicator proposals - October 2015

This ISEAL statement highlights that standards and certification systems can be used as accurate indicators of progress for several targets under the SDG framework.

ASC ajudando a transformar a aquicultura no estado do Rio de Janeiro

O Aquaculture Stewardship Council lançou um vídeo no mês de março entitulado “Transformando a aquicultura no estado do Rio de Janeiro”. O vídeo mostra os esforços do estado, da indústria local e do Comitê Olímpico Rio 2016 em melhorar os impactos sociais e ambientais relacionados à aquicultura na região.

The EU Public Procurement Directives (ISEAL Webinar)

In this webinar, Marcus Nyman, the Senior Policy and Outreach Coordinator at ISEAL, discusses the new European Union Public Procurement Directives.

ISEAL Response to the UK Transposition of the EU Public Procurement Directives (2014)

ISEAL submitted the attached document and comments in response to the UK Government's consultation on the Public Contracts Regulations (2014), which transpose the contents of the EU Public Procurement Directives (2014) into national procurement rules.

Rio Alimentação Sustentável oferece guia para obtenção sustentável na Olimpíada de 2016 e além

A iniciativa Food Rio Sustentável, uma iniciativa liderada pelo WWF-Brasil e Conservação Internacional, que inclui ISEAL e seis membros da ISEAL, lançado uma análise de 15 cadeias produtivas no Brasil para servir como base para o Comitê Organizador dos Jogos Olímpicos de garantir a saúde ea sustentabilidade dos 14 milhões de refeições para ser servido nos Jogos e também para deixar um legado duradouro para a formulação de políticas de alimentos no país.

Rio Food Vision provides guide for sustainable sourcing at 2016 Olympics and beyond

The Rio Sustainable Food Initiative, an initiative led by WWF-Brazil and Conservation International that includes ISEAL and six ISEAL members, released a comprehensive analysis of 15 supply chains in Brazil to serve as a basis for the Olympic Organising Committee to ensure the health and sustainability of the 14 million meals to be served at the Games and also to leave a lasting legacy for food policy formulation in the country.

ISEAL works with Indian Railways on Sustainable Public Procurement

As part of its project looking at public procurement and emerging economies, ISEAL held a training workshop for procurers and policy makers from Indian Railways to raise awareness and understanding of sustainable procurement. The event was held in New Delhi and supported by the Center for Responsible Business, the Swiss Embassy, Ecoinstitut Barcelona and Transport for London.