Voluntary certifications in various capacities related to sustainability – in the broadest sense of the term – nowadays deserve recognition as well asthe same attention, pending the development of a new paradigm. Some food for thought.
One can well appreciate voluntary indications provided by European regulations i.e. the logo ‘organic’, the ‘eco-label’ on non-food consumer goods, designations which guarantee a link of certain foods to traditions and territories (so-called ‘Geographical Indications ‘, e.g. the PDO, PGI, TSG, and DOCG, DOC, IGT wines). As well as private certification schemes, especially those that guarantee the sustainability of fish products (e.g. ‘Friends of The Sea’, MSC), those related to the respect of workers at every stage of the supply chain (SA8000), environmental protection and local communities (e.g. UTZ, ‘Friends of the Earth’, ‘Rainforest Alliance’), as the ‘fair trade’ ones. In addition to international standards such as ISO 14000 (environmental) and ISO 26000 (guidelines for social responsibility).
The Consumer Association and NGO monitoring plays an essential role in supporting the public Authorities’ control, so that the authentic meanings of such labels are not devalued or betrayed by fraudulent activities. Reporting frauds and misleading advertising is essential, the ‘name & shame‘ and exemplary punishments are needed to prevent that isolated cases may affect consumer trust towards the relevant production chains.
Corporate Social Responsibility
But we must not loose sight of the overall integrity of those companies that sometimes employ these and other claims as a mean to cover other deficiencies (so-called greenwashing). The paradigm of the so called ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ – too often abused by Corporations responsible for serious crimes, from land grabbing to deforestations and ecocides, corruption, violation of trade union rights – appears to be, therefore, now obsolete and inadequate to the legitimate expectations of conscious consumers .
Creating Shared Values
Philip Kotler has recently introduced the concept of CSV, ‘Creating Shared Values‘ . Since the values to be shared with the broadest possible stakeholder communities – to strive towards universal values – attributing their ‘creation’ to a single organization does not seem realistic. We prefer to decline this acronym into ‘Contributing to Shared Values’, and invite our more careful readers to start a valuable consideration, which will also take into account some of the themes developed around the so called B-Corp (‘Benefit-Corporation’).