Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS)

The MGG project on voluntary sustainability standards for the production of certain products – such as food and textiles - has played a catalysing role in transnational cooperation, with a strong focus on joint knowledge creation and policy dialogue.

The project started in 2015 as research collaboration of the MGG Alumni. As work got underway, participants became aware that attitudes in their countries had changed significantly. Until then, policy-makers in the South had rejected voluntary standards as protectionist measures favouring advanced economies. In a remarkable change of mind, MGG partner countries opted for a course of proactive engagement with the intent to become rule-makers rather than reactive rule-takers.

Within a span of little more than a year, China, Brazil, India and Mexico established multi-stakeholder platforms for sustainability standards in order to foster a better understanding and adoption of VSS in local contexts. Other countries are likely to follow. MGG scholars have undertaken research on the relevance of sustainability standards for small and medium enterprises. These studies were used  for a report to the Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion, under Germany’s G20 presidency.