Externe Publikationen

Global governance through voluntary sustainability standards: Developments, trends and challenges

Marx, Axel et al.
Externe Publikationen (2024)

in: Global Policy, first published 30.06.2024

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/1758-5899.13401
Open access

Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS) are transnational governance instruments that can be leveraged to pursue sustainable development in global value chains. They have proliferated since the 1990s in terms of their number and the share of global production they govern. This paper shares some key insights arising from the considerable body of literature that has analysed the role of these instruments for sustainable production and trade. First, it introduces VSS, traces the evolution of their adoption and takes stock of the research on their sustainability impacts. Next, some major developments in the VSS realm are discussed, related to public policy and the emergence of national sustainability standards. The paper then zooms in on the challenges and limitations of VSS in transforming value chains towards sustainability, focusing on the shortcomings related to inclusiveness and the problems arising from their proliferation. The paper concludes by distilling recommendations on overcoming these challenges, especially in light of recent policy developments, and outlines what different stakeholders can do to make VSS more effective and inclusive instruments for sustainable value chains.

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