Markets and trade

Meeting on voluntary standards and certification in environmentally and socially responsible agricultural production and trade

April 2004

Over 120 participants from all over the world gathered to discuss issues related to the promotion of environmentally and socially sustainable agricultural practices. The meeting was held in close collaboration and back-to-back with the final conference of the SASA project held at FAO on 21 April 2004. It marked the first time that FAO engaged such a wide variety and number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), private sector stakeholders and other institutions to further the development of responsible agricultural production and trade. Moreover, it demonstrated the commitment of the Organization to discuss the issue of voluntary standards and certification initiatives in relation to how they may benefit small farmers, plantation workers, rural communities and society as a whole.

Some of the benefits that may accrue to the farmers, farm workers and producers adopting a given certification programme include increased returns on their labour, better working conditions and longer term environmental improvements. Certification may also offer small farmers an opportunity to stay in business, through the support and solidarity of consumers who are willing to pay a price premium to support them.