Courtesy of International Trade Center
Hi, my name is Leonardo Fernandes, I am Brazilian, with an Engineer background. I used to work for multinational companies in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors. I am now, as of 2011, working as a United Nations (UN) Volunteer for the International Trade Centre (ITC).
The International Trade Centre is a UN-based organization which aims to foster sustainable development via “Export Impact for Good” through its 100% Aide for Trade related agenda.
I have found my-self being engaged at the fore-front of ITC’s sustainable actions, last year. I work for one of its newly launched project called Trade for Sustainable Development, an initiative that includes the development of a web based tool called Standards Map. The newest tool brings information on private and voluntary sustainability standards.
Leonardo, could you please tell us why you are interested in sustainable development?
Well I was only an infant when the notion of Sustainable Development was coined in the late 1980s, under the harbinger report "Our Common Future" prepared by the Brundtland Commission, I now find myself, many years later, turning this concept into action working as a United Nations Volunteer for the ITC.
Why have you decided to work as a UNV for ITC?
This initiative is very interesting as it is a clear demonstration that the subject "international trade" is also a tool for environmental preservation and is being discussed in major international conferences such as Rio+20.
Do you think that providing information on voluntary standards is important?
Over the past years, voluntary standards and other private standards and codes of conduct have experienced unprecedented growth. As these standards have been booming in certain markets, Brazilian producers and exporters often lack information when considering whether and how to engage into more sustainable production and trade practices. My main task is to implement and disseminate information about voluntary standards in the Brazilian value chain.
How does this web based tool, standards Map, help Brazilian stakeholders?
The newest tool developed, Standards Map (which is currently available for free on the address www.standardsmap.org), brings together various international standards for comparison and analysis in various productive sectors, aside from providing a range of materials for consultation on issues related to sustainability and standards systems, such as academic dissertations, bibliographies and other papers in the area.
Do you believe that these voluntary standards are a good thing or a bad thing for the Brazilian economy?
These standards, commonly regarded as "non-tariff barriers" (NTBs) to exports from developing countries, voluntary guide local producers to promote more sustainable agricultural or manufacturing practices in their properties, preserving both the environment around them and the social quality of its own employees.
So what could be potential benefits accruing from these standards Leonardo?
The acquisition of international certifications and customizing their productions to common international quality standards provides for different producers the access of new consumer markets, for the reason that they previously demonstrate the quality of their products through the acquisition of standards and "green labels" . This project Standards Map of ITC is in itself an initiative completely impartial, never judging or prioritizing standards, since the ITC has in its constitution the same basic and ethical principles of its largest organization, the United Nations.
Leonardo, what are your expectations from RIO+20?
While I do not speak as an employee of the United Nations, but rather as a citizen of an emerging and rapidly rising economy such as Brazil, as a consumer that can no longer inactively accept the destruction of our environment, the absence of labor regulations and the lack of information about products and supply chains, closing the eyes to inequalities between countries production only in search of lower prices, which benefit few and hurt many others. I wish quality products consumed daily, a competitive market, away from protectionist measures, and above all, the accurate knowledge of what has been consumed and produced, always having in mind one guiding principle, sustainability and the development of productive agents involved. I'm sure the Rio+20 will be a success because it is open to discuss and hear dissenting voices, seeking for a larger and international goal, the planet's sustainable development. I am sure also that the project run by ITC, Standards Map will and does make a difference.