Standards & Regulations

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Thirty years ago, as concerns grew in Sweden about pollution appearing downstream from pulp and paper mills, local firms developed chlorine-free pulp bleaching technologies. These technologies helped protect fish and ecosystems.

The US government argues that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), concluded last October with 11 other Pacific Rim countries, “includes the most robust enforceable environment commitments of any trade agreement in history.” But is this really the case?

Shardul Agrawala and Tomasz Koźluk OECD Environment Directorate discuss how productivity is generally not negatively affected by the introduction of more stringent environmental policies.

Standards and related certification and labelling schemes are key features of products and services in a sustainable supply chain. The number of “green” schemes available has grown exponentially in the last few years and includes over 400 eco-labels alone (UNECE, 2015). However, standards and eco-labels can constitute barriers for small and developing-country producers who may lack the resources required to prove compliance, or for whom the standards are inappropriate.

Nevertheless, standards and regulations are powerful instruments for driving the green growth policy framework and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), because they provide incentives to improve energy efficiency, emissions standards, product market competition, resource use, trade and foreign direct investment, and private sector voluntary initiatives. By informing consumers about products and production processes and providinge clear policy signals to businesses, these tools can be effective in achieving environmental objectives and facilitate best practices in sustainable goods and services markets.


Private Standards, Trade, and Sustainable Development_Policy Options for Collective Action
International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD)
United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment)

Best Practices


Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Natural Capital Coalition