Voluntary standards and schemes

Voluntary standards are those standards which specify the requirement’s that producers, traders, manufactures, relators may be asked to meet a wide range of sustainability metrics. Voluntary standards may be developed by individual businesses, environmental or social NGO’s or governments. Voluntary standards have the potential to generate significant environmental, economic and social benefits in developing countries.

There are many different kinds of voluntary sustainability standards. Some focus on specific sectors such as forest management, agriculture, mining or fisheries. Some are intended to support particular groups such as cooperatives, small-scale farmers or artisanal miners. Some focus on specific environmental or social factors such as water use, biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions or workers’ rights. Some cover the full range of environmental impacts throughout a product’s life cycle, from the extraction of raw materials to a product’s final disposal. Some identify and promote ‘best practice’, some support continuous improvement and others aim to combine both approaches

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