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Web Exclusive | October 2018

Role of standards for value chain sustainability

Sustainability standards take steps towards ensuring long term sustainability of value chains. They also prepare the national market by increasing consumer awareness on  standards demand for product and environmental safety, livelihood improvement of workers, together with improving competitiveness of industries, production practices of the fast-growing smallholder segment, and mainstreaming smallholders into the sustainability fold.

The ‘International Convention on Sustainable Trade and Standards’ (ICSTS) was the first of its kind multi-stakeholder Convention. The event was convened by the Quality Council of India (QCI) in collaboration with the United Nations Forum on Sustainability Standards (UNFSS). It was held at 17th & 18th September 2018 in New Delhi, India. GOTS was the Supporting Partner to this Convention. The convention was dedicated solely to the practical questions of leveraging trade, standards, and global value chains as engines of sustainable development. It encompassed Sustainable trade concept which acquires a broader conception of environmental, economic and social sustainability.

Sumit Gupta, GOTS Deputy Director Standards Development & Quality Assurance was invited as a panellist in the textile session titled ‘Strengthening Multi-Stakeholder Sectoral Initiatives and Responsible Sourcing Decisions in Textiles Value Chains”. The session was moderated by Rene Van Berkel from UNIDO.

As the world’s leading standard for processing of organic fibres, GOTS is actively working with national and international brands towards bringing in more transparency and accountability in textile supply chains. The criteria include traceability, waste treatment, environment, working conditions and other aspects of social compliance. This includes prohibition of child labour, excessive overtime and fair remuneration and so on. At the heart of GOTS criteria, there is this requirement to use minimum 70 per cent organic fibres in the main material. It could be organic cotton, organic wool, organic silk or other certified organic fibres.

Gupta explained that GOTS is a multi-stakeholder standard and has a transparent
process for standard setting and revision. GOTS actively engages with other standards to avoid double working. He provided the example of social compliance, where GOTS has listed four social standards including SA 8000 in its Implementation Manual. Gupta also elucidated how third-party standards, such as GOTS, can help to improve the supply chain interactions; all certified operations are listed in a public database for sourcing and proof. He also referred to the recently released GOTS Factsheet on how certification to GOTS helps to ensure compliance to each of the 17 Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDGs).

“GOTS is a Consumer Facing label. GOTS certified businesses are able to make
sustainability claims that are visible to the end consumer. Consumers can then make
informed decisions and can also verify those claims on GOTS website”, concluded 
Gupta.
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