The role of voluntary sustainability standards in scaling up sustainability in smallholder-dominated agricultural sectors
This paper (PDF) by Aidenvironment, NewForesight and IIED presents the value proposition of voluntary sustainability standards (VSS) and the challenges they face in obtaining scale and impact in sectors dominated by unorganized smallholders. It explores their potential role in scaling sustainability within a more holistic sector transformation model. The paper highlights that while VSS try to respond to a call for increased scale and impact – at low cost – creating fully sustainable sectors demands complementary or alternative approaches. This is especially necessary in sectors dominated by unorganised smallholders where increased capacity building, input delivery and finance, as well as other systemic changes such as land tenure, are prerequisites for a viable and sustainable sector. Mainstreaming sustainability in such sectors requires a more holistic model that achieves scale beyond individual supply chains. The paper begins with an introduction to VSS’s current value proposition, some of the challenges they are confronted with and how their typical response to these challenges. It then presents a more holistic model to scale sustainability in smallholder dominated agricultural sectors and explores the potential role VSS can play within such model.