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Governmental Use of Voluntary Standards: Innovation in Sustainability Governance

Published in 2008 by

Type of document: Scientific, technical, research

The report aims to provide an overview of the models of governmental engagement in using voluntary standards. This study is based on ten country case studies that were developed through the “Governmental Use of Voluntary Standards” project, carried out by International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling Alliance (ISEAL Alliance) in collaboration with the Trade Standards Practitioners' Network (TSPN) and with the support of the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), the World Bank and the Entwined research partnership.
According to the conclusions drawn by this paper, the governmental use of voluntary standards is characterised by diversity (governance, mission motivations for engagement, institutional arrangements and implementation mechanisms, policy outcomes) coupled with the evidence of its widespread use around the world (in countries with different levels of development). The voluntary standards have established themselves as effective, flexible tools to accompany and support governmental policy. However, for its further development a number of issues should be addressed: availability of information on the best practices, foster opportunities for shared learning, and strengthen credibility and accountability of voluntary standard systems.