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Academic publications

The State of Sustainability Initiatives Review 2014, Potts, Jason, and Lynch Matthew , 06/2014, p.135-155, (2014) , (Academic Publication)
FAIR TRADE – CONTRADICTING OR COMPLEMENTING SE? A critical research on RISE's Fair Trade activities within a social entrepreneurial framework, Gottlieb, Mikkel , Department Psychology and Eduction, 06/2014, Volume Social Entrepreneurship and Management, Roskilde, (2014) , (Academic Publication)
The Role of Cooperative Organizations in Rural Community Development in Nigeria: Prospects and Challenges, Hussain, Muhammad Shehu , Academic Research International , 05/2014, Volume 5, Issue 3, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, NIGERIA., (2014) , (Academic Publication)
Challenges of farmers’ innovativeness in central zone, Tigray, Ethiopia A, Gebre, Girma Gezimu, and Zegeye Dawit Mamo , International Journal of Agricultural Policy and Research, 05/2014, Volume 2, Issue 5, Ethiopia, p.223, (2014) , (Academic Publication)
Effect of crude oil price on Cocoa production in Nigeria (1961-2008): A cointergration and error correction modelling approach, Binuomote, S. O., and Odeniyi K. A. , Wilolud Journal, 09/2013, Volume 3, Issue 23, Nigeria, p.30, (2013) , (Academic Publication)

The State of Sustainability Initiatives Review 2014

TitleThe State of Sustainability Initiatives Review 2014
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsPotts, Jason, and Lynch Matthew
Date Published06/2014
InstitutionThe State of Sustainability Initiatives (SSI) project
Publication LanguageEnglish

In 1992 the leaders of the world came together at the first Rio Earth summit, historically acknowledging the imperative of a needs based approach to sustainable development. Although agenda 21 and the Rio Declaration made a call upon all citizens of the world to play a role in ensuring sustainable development, the UNCED process primarily spoke to the aspirations and obligations of governments. Now, some 20 years later, we are forced to make a further acknowledgement, namely that governments alone cannot be relied upon to generate coordinated action at the global level with either the precision or timeliness typically required by the plethora of sustainability issues facing the planet today. The recent growth in the number and use of voluntary sustainability standards can largely be traced to a growing recognition of the failure of public action in addressing a host of sustainability issues. In a very real sense, voluntary sustainability standards allow the very actors implicated in the processes leading to sustainable development impacts to identify and implement the appropriate corrective measures while integrating them directly within their business models. The need and ability of private sector innovation and investment, not to mention allocative efficiency of the market, to provide a more targeted and nimble approach to the implementation of sustainable development also explains the recent emphasis put on the need for a “green economy.”Both voluntary sustainability standards and policy measures aimed at promoting a green economy hold the promise of more efficient and effective implementation of sustainable development goals. The common logic underlying green economy and voluntary sustainability standards discussions points toward their potential to play mutually reinforcing roles. However, if voluntary sustainability standards and the green economy are tied by a common potential, they are also tied by common challenges. Both efforts, by virtue of their voluntary and largely unregulated character, have the ability to “say more than they do”—that is, to market themselves beyond their actual capacity to deliver. In so doing, voluntary sustainability standards and related green economy measures have the potential to enablea misguided sense of complacency—potentially leading to reduced vigilance when vigilance is needed most. Rather disconcertingly, the “danger” posed by such approaches grows in proportion to their acceptance—which speaks to the immediate importance of deepening our understanding of whether, how and where such initiatives are delivering the desired outcomes. The State of Sustainability Initiatives Review 2014 represents one small effort toward strengthening our understanding of how voluntary sustainability standards are developing over time, both in terms of the systems they deploy and the market impacts that they have. It is hoped that the ensuing data and analysis, when read in conjunction with the growing body of field-level impact data, will allow supply chain decision-makers to strengthen their own strategic decision-making processes in ways that provide optimal sustainable development impact. The importance of improving our knowledge of the potential role of voluntary standards, however, goes beyond merely pragmatic questions of what the “most efficient means for achieving sustainable development” might be. The combined forces of globalization and trade liberalization have arguably established economic rationality as the supreme authority in international relations. When the very institutions that define “who we are” absorb and embody the vision of humans as homo economicus, we risk losing the capacity to care for those who lack economic “voice,” of which the poor and the environment are only too evident as examples. Voluntary standards represent one of the most explicit efforts to balance purely “economic” interests with a deeper sense of human morality by asserting the primacy of care and compassion for others. In a word, the highest promise of voluntary standards may rest in their potential to make us more human. And so it is that we can also hope that by improving our understanding of the world of voluntary sustainability standards, we may also be able to improve our understanding of ourselves.



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