Two New Websites Make the Clear Case for Sustainability Standards Systems
December 14, 2012, Oakland, CA: People are increasingly looking to align their social and environmental values with the way they spend their money, and more businesses understand the clear benefits of being seen as good social/environmental performers – and of working with suppliers and partners to promote and achieve a positive track record of social and environmental practices. Two new websites show how sustainability standards systems help businesses navigate the sustainability landscape and help consumers know the products they buy are sustainably made. Illustrations, slidecasts, and sample scripts are all made available for download, adaptation, and use.
The Framing Sustainability Standards (www.sustainabilitystandards101.org/report) and Sustainability Standards 101 (www.sustainabilitystandards101.org) websites from the Pacific Institute and its collaborators, the Foundation for Democracy and Sustainable Development, the ISEAL Alliance, OneWorldStandards, and Real Reason, use “framing” to demystify key concepts and issues related to sustainability standards. By talking about social and environmental standards in straightforward ways with engaging illustrations that define the issues, the new web tools help communicate to the layperson the unique role and value of sustainability standards systems in furthering sustainable development.
“To effectively communicate the value of sustainability standards systems, we felt a more interactive platform that was built upon common understanding within the standards community was needed,” said Jason Morrison, director of the Pacific Institute Globalization Program. “These new websites include information that helps visitors understand the major issues facing the standards community and that offer short slidecasts with hand-drawn illustrations that provide much needed summaries that communicate the essence of sustainability standards in ways that people actually understand.”
“The development of these online tools drew on input from standards practitioners, civil society organizations, public sector representatives, and academics, who worked together to identify and discuss major issues facing the standards community and to develop a narrative and a strategy to talk about and address them,” said Matthew Wenban-Smith, director at OneWorldStandards. “The process explored a number of areas including the emergence of industry-led consumer-facing initiatives, the goal of up-scaling sustainability standards in emerging markets, and the relationship between sustainability standards systems and public policy.”
The Sustainability Standards 101 website showcases how framing can be used to talk about standards and houses resources delving into standards, including a series of videos developed by the ISEAL Alliance. The complementary Framing Sustainability Standards site is a platform of tools and reports to highlight the major issue areas facing the standards community and to offer an initial unifying narrative to help practitioners communicate about sustainability standards more effectively to civil society, policy makers, businesses, and the general public.
“A key point that comes through this work is the importance of better understanding the role of standards systems in supporting good public governance and policy setting,” said Morrison. “Governments must lead the way, but business, civil society, and communities can all be part of the solution and democratically participate in defining standards for good social and environmental practices of businesses in order to further sustainable development objectives.”
The Pacific Institute is an independent nonprofit conducting interdisciplinary research and partnering with stakeholders to produce solutions that advance social equity, economic development, and environmental protection. www.pacinst.org
The Foundation for Democracy and Sustainable Development is a research and advocacy charity working to equip democracy to tackle the challenges of sustainable development. www.fdsd.org.
The ISEAL Alliance is a global association developing guidance and facilitating coordinated efforts to improve the effectiveness of sustainability standards and scale up their social and environmental impacts. www.isealalliance.org
OneWorldStandards Ltd. is an independent consultancy working with leading companies and non-governmental organisations, providing advice and support on all aspects of social and environmental standards and standard setting. www.oneworldstandards.com
Real Reason is an applied-research nonprofit group working to help develop the political imagination essential for an evolving, thriving democracy, using cognitive linguistic tools to move new ideas in issue areas with daunting conceptual and communications challenges. www.realreason.org