Global Survey on Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS)



The activities are supported by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs


Julia Lernoud

Department of Socio-Economic Sciences
Ackerstrasse 113
CH-5070 Frick

Phone +41 (0)62 865-0457
Fax +41 (0)62 865-7273


Helga Willer
(Dr. rer. nat.)

Department of Extension, Training and Communication
Group lead Dissemination & Outreach
Group lead Data & Digitalisation
Ackerstrasse 113
CH-5070 Frick

Phone +41 (0)62 865-7207
Fax +41 (0)62 865-7273

Data collection

Building on the experience gained by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) that produced the “The State of Sustainability Initiatives Review” in 2014 (Potts et al., 2014) and 2010 (Potts et al., 2010), the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), IISD and the International Trade Centre (ITC) are conducting an annual market data survey on Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS).

The data is obtained either directly from the standards or indirectly through published annual reports and other literature. For organic agriculture, data is gather from organizations of the private sector, governments and certification bodies as part of FiBL’s annual survey on organic agriculture worldwide (Willer/Lernoud, 2016).

Since December 2014, a standardized questionnaire developed by FiBL and IISD has been sent once a year to the VSS.

The following standadrds are covered by the survey:

  • 4 C Association
  • Better Cotton Initiative (BCI)
  • Bonsucro
  • Cotton Made in Africa (CmiA)
  • Fairtrade International
  • Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
  • IFOAM – Organics International
  • Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC)
  • ProTerra Foundation
  • Rainforest Alliance/Sustainable Agriculture Network (RA/SAN)
  • Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)
  • Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS)
  • UTZ Certified