PUBLISHED 2014-02-03

Release of the State of Sustainability Initiatives Review 2014

On January 31st the highly anticipated State of Sustainability Initiatives Review 2014 was released at Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland. The review has been partly sponsored by the Entwined program and Entwined researcher Jason Pott is the lead author of the review.

The review has focused on the development for the 16 largest eco-labels and shows, for most of them, a growth rate of both double and triple digits. The State of Sustainability Initiatives Review 2014 has been developed within the research program Entwined and the review shows that, all combined, eco-labels certified products for an estimated trade value of U.S. $ 31.6 billion in 2012 (about 197 billion SEK).

Voluntary environmental labels such as Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and Organic have in recent years gained significant market shares in several major commodity markets. Eco-labelled coffee reached a market share of 38 percent of global production in 2012 (from 9 percent in 2008), cocoa 22 percent, palm oil 15 percent, and tea 12 percent.

The explanation for this development is partly due to the fact that some of the world’s largest private consumer goods companies are investing heavily in their own eco-labelling standards. Some of these companies are well recognized brands like Dole, Chiquita, Coca Cola Company, Tetley, Twinings, Unilever, Starbucks, Nestlé, Ikea and Adidas.

- These company have tremendous power to influence the market, but that also makes it even more important to ensure that eco-labels are used in a correct way, so they continue to contribute to a positive environmental effect, says Mark Sanctuary, program manager for Entwined.

According to the review, the average growth rate of environmentally certified production (in all sectors except biofuels) was a remarkable 41 percent in 2012; this compared to a two percent increase in the corresponding conventional market. The increase was greatest for eco-certified palm oil - which had a growth of 90 percent. Other sectors that increased significantly were sugar (74 percent), cocoa (69 percent) and cotton (55 percent).

The SSI-review concludes that the potential for environmental labelling to influence the market in a positive direction continues to increase. At the same time there is a need for a better understanding of the actual impact that these environmental labels have.The review also points at a long-term trend where the demands on the eco-labelled producers have lessen in the last decade.

The SSI Review 2014 is a collaborative effort by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), the Finance Alliance for Sustainable Trade (FAST), Environment and Trade in a World of Interdependence (ENTWINED), the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Read the full review here.

For any questions please contact Mark Sanctuary, mark.sanctuary@ivl.se, phone +46-8 598 56 377

Updated: 2014-02-03