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FAO engaging partners on voluntary standards








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    Document
    Impact of international voluntary standards on smallholder market participation in developing countries
    A review of the literature
    2014
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    Over the past twenty years, international voluntary standards have gained prominence in global trade. These standards are developed and used by both private and public actors to ensure quality, food safety, social protection and environmental conservation that go beyond mandatory regulation. Concerns have been consistently raised about the ability of international voluntary standards to increase the market access of small-scale producers and exporters in developing countries. This publication pr esents the results of a literature review conducted by FAO in 2012 on the impact of voluntary standards on smallholders’ ability to participate in markets. The results are based on an analysis of 101 studies containing 123 cases. Cumulatively, these cases presented evidence for 19 voluntary standards that were implemented in 14 commodity sectors and in 40 countries. Despite this broad scope, the authors find that the majority of the empirical evidence for impacts comes from studies of just three standards: GlobalGAP, Fairtrade and organic. Moreover, most studies focus on two commodities: coffee and horticulture products. While there is a decent range of geographic cover, the majority of studies focus on a handful of countries: Mexico, Kenya, Peru, Costa Rica and Uganda. This study adopts an impacts pathway model to organize and analyse the trends found in the empirical evidence. The results can be summarized as follows: first, equitable and sustainable supply chain linkages, increased access to assets, and support for cooperative development are incentives for complying with standards. Second, both public and private actors have comparative advantages for supporting voluntary standards and are most effective when combined. Finally, governments can provide services, for example infrastructure and proper legislation, which facilitate the inclusion of smallholders in certified value chains. The study concludes by making policy recommendations on how the public sector can mediate the effects of voluntary standards.
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    Book (series)
    Product Certification and Ecolabelling for Fisheries Sustainability 2001
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    Product certification and ecolabelling are tools that can be used to support fisheries management. These tools, while inter-related and serving the same goal, have important differences as currently applied in fisheries. Product certification is commonly a measure mandated by governments, often mutually agreed upon by regional fisheries management organizations, in order to ensure that only legally harvested and reported fish landings can be traded and sold in the domestic or international marke ts. The principal objective of product certification (and catch documentation) is to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in accordance with the 2001 FAO International Plan of Action. Product certification does not necessarily involve a product label at the retail level. Where product certification comes with a label to inform consumers, however, it can influence consumers’ choices. This technical paper provides information on important institutional features and characteristics of product certification schemes including: the linkage with management objectives; the level of government involvement; their validation procedures; and, in the international context, how they deal with non-participants of regional fisheries management organizations and arrangements. Product labels can be mandatory or voluntary and may refer to different kinds of product characteristics or attributes including the product’s composition or contents, product quality or form, as well as environmental or social aspects of the product’s production process or method. The focus in this publication is on voluntary product labelling that conveys environmental information to consumers. The principal objective of an ecolabelling scheme is to create a market-based incentive for better management of fisheries by creating consumer demand for seafood products from well-managed stocks. This technical paper provides information on the theoretical foundation, institutional arrange ments and relationship with international trade law of ecolabelling programmes for fish and fishery products. It also discusses trade access concerns with ecolabelling programmes and examines their operational features including certification criteria, certification costs and chain of custody. The document includes a list of related sites on the Internet.
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    Book (stand-alone)
    Voluntary standards and certification for environmentally and socially responsible agricultural production and trade 2004
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    This report summarizes the presentations and discussions that took place during the “FAO Meeting on Voluntary Standards and Certification for Environmentally and Socially Responsible Agricultural Production and Trade” (Rome, 22 April 2004). Over 120 participants from all over the world gathered to discuss issues related to the promotion of environmentally and socially sustainable agricultural practices. The meeting was held in close collaboration and back-to-back with the final confere nce of the SASA project held at FAO on 21 April 2004. It marked the first time that FAO engaged such a wide variety and number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), private sector stakeholders and other institutions to further the development of responsible agricultural production and trade. Moreover, it demonstrated the commitment of the Organization to discuss the issue of voluntary standards and certification initiatives in relation to how they may benefit small farmers, plant ation workers, rural communities and society as a whole.

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