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Cocoa pods in a pile © Pierre-Yves Babelon, Adobe stock

We often talk about system-level change to address root causes of poverty and imbalance of risk. This requires us to unite in different and creative ways. The Living Income Community of Practice motivates actors across sectors to help close the income gap, so that smallholders can earn a decent standard of living as a basic human right.

Rural farming communities are burdened — not just by poverty but also the high risk of agriculture. This has been compounded by the pandemic.

In addition, increasing transparency and shorter supply chains have led to a growing awareness of poverty and economic insecurity…

Green Earth © Adobe stock

From mitigating and adapting to climate change, to addressing human rights’ abuses in supply chains, to contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, businesses are increasingly expected to play their part in tackling the big issues facing our planet and societies.

Getting serious about sustainability isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s also a business imperative. Banks and shareholders are demanding disclosure on environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks, consumers are rewarding brands that share their values, and policymakers are introducing new due diligence requirements and public procurement policies.

Sustainability systems — such as standards and certification schemes —…

Sewing © Adobe stock

June 2021 marks the ten-year anniversary of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Adoption of the Principles was a landmark moment for the global human rights movement providing a clear framework that emphasised the complementary responsibilities of States and businesses in respecting and promoting human rights.

In its recently released report taking stock of the first decade of the UN Guiding Principles, the working group makes an important observation:

“The last decade has underscored the point made in the UNGPs: voluntary approaches alone are not enough. The rise of mandatory measures will undoubtedly accelerate both uptake and…

Green landscape © Adobe Stock

The launch of ISEAL’s new membership structure marks a focus on a wider range of sustainability systems and offers new and enhanced products.

We’re in the final decade before the UN Sustainable Development Goals’ deadline. Bringing increased pressure to deliver the urgent changes required to tackle critical sustainability challenges. With sustainability rising up the business agenda, we must work together to deliver the system-wide changes needed.

Bringing together a diverse range of sustainability systems

Complex sustainability challenges such as deforestation, forced labour and rural poverty require an ambitious and collective response: a range of approaches, working together in new and creative ways.

Our new membership structure reflects the…

“You can’t manage what you can’t measure,” runs the old business adage. Conversely, good metrics and data can help you make better management decisions, develop effective strategies and monitor progress.

Measuring sustainability, though, isn’t easy. While it may be simple enough to quantify the financial performance of a producer, a supply chain business, an economic sector or a local area, getting reliable data on the various aspects of their environmental impact or social contribution is far more complex.

This really matters, because an ever-growing number of organizations, companies and governments are responding to the urgency of the global environmental crisis…

Silhouhette of fisherman at sunset © tong2530, Adobe stock

As companies and governments seek effective solutions to meet their sustainability goals, the importance of credible and robust benchmarking is increasing. ISEAL’s Sustainability Benchmarking Good Practice Guide offers a useful framework to plan and implement benchmarks of sustainability standards, tools and policies.

One of ISEAL’s core objectives is to support governments and companies to use credible sustainability standards to achieve their sustainability goals. Therefore, we’re heartened to see both increasing awareness and action to consider sustainability issues within supply chains. To support this, we released ISEAL’s benchmarking guidance as a practical companion for experts and practitioners.

Taking responsibility for what…

Worker in a tea plantation in Sukambizi, Malawi © Martine Parry for Fairtrade Foundation

Ensuring resilient livelihoods and sustained employment for vulnerable communities was already a stretch pre-Covid-19. For those communities lacking a stable income, the impact has been inconceivable. With border closures and travel restrictions, the downturn in trade has massively affected the income and employment of these vulnerable communities, especially the self-employed.

Currently, more than 475 million smallholder families work on less than two hectares of land. In addition, average equilibrium market wages can be low, with prices that farmers earn for agricultural produce economically unsustainable.

According to the Living Income Community of Practice, a living income is about fostering a countries’…

Guatemala coffee plantation © Rainforest Alliance

As sustainability professionals, we often ask ourselves what works: What works to address deforestation? What works to improve farmer incomes? What works to address labour rights in supply chains? Are our programmes, policies and decisions based on evidence or are we making a leap of faith?

To know which strategies deliver impact, we need to commit ourselves to evaluating the impacts and effectiveness of our work, then commit to working with that evidence.

This is the thinking behind Evidensia, a new evidence platform that ISEAL, WWF and Rainforest Alliance launched earlier this year. It aims to make it easier for…

Joe Woodruff © Bonsucro

Today we find ourselves in one of the most disruptive times in modern history. Around the globe, sustainability organisations and sustainability-minded businesses are pivoting to support the producers, workers, families and enterprises along their supply chains in response to Covid-19.

Sustainability systems, such as ISEAL members, are responding to the challenge; highlighting the power they bring to collaborative working, sharing of information and stakeholder engagement.

Safety first

Foremost, ISEAL members provided health and safety guidance to the companies and workers in their supply chains.

Aluminium Stewardship Initiative supported member companies in creating a safe working environment for employees and stakeholders…

Oil palm landscape © Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil

With companies exploring scalable solutions to meet their sustainability commitments in a post-2020 world, ISEAL and its partners are looking at how they can support landscape-wide transformation.

The idea of a landscape and jurisdictional approach is simple and compelling — that sustainability issues like deforestation, biodiversity loss and climate change are best addressed at scale.

This means moving from a piecemeal approach that focusses on each individual producer, farmer or enterprise in a supply chain, to one that supports action across whole productive landscapes or jurisdictions. …


ISEAL is the global membership organisation for ambitious, collaborative and transparent sustainability systems. Learn more at

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