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Achieving the Global 2030 Agenda: What Role for Voluntary Sustainability Standards?

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 17 calls for strengthening implementation means and revitalizing global partnerships for these goals. In this sense, the 2030 Agenda explicitly recognises the importance of the private sector to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Among private actors, Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS) can potentially play an important role in governing sustainable development. With regard to SDG 17, VSS are relevant implementation means for the SDGs, as they share similar objectives. They also contribute to revitalising partnerships for these goals by linking the Global South to the Global North through global value chains. The objective of this chapter is to present the potential contribution that VSS can make in achieving the SDGs. We first introduce VSS and how they operate, and provide some leading examples of VSS. We then discuss how VSS are linked to the SDGs. Next, key developments in the landscape of VSS are identified. Lastly, we show that, despite their growing number and increasing complementarity to public governance instruments, VSS face challenges in terms of credibility, effectiveness, and cooperation.

Table of Contents: Transitioning to Strong Partnerships for the Sustainable Development Goals