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Academic publications

Vulnerability to climate change in West Africa, Schroth, Götz, and al et , Science of the Total Environment, 01/2016, Issue 556 , internet, p.241, (2016) , (Academic Publication)
The State of Sustainability Initiatives Review 2014, Potts, Jason, and Lynch Matthew , 06/2014, p.135-155, (2014) , (Academic Publication)
Evaluation of river sand as a medium for raising cocoa (Theobroma cacao L.) seedlings, Konlan, Sampson, and Opoku-Agyeman Michael Obour , American Journal of Agriculture and Forestry , 06/2014, Volume 2, Issue 4, Online, p.120, (2014) , (Academic Publication)

Riding the wave of sustainable commodity sourcing - Review of the Sustainable Trade Initiative IDH 2008-2013

TitleRiding the wave of sustainable commodity sourcing - Review of the Sustainable Trade Initiative IDH 2008-2013
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsAffairs, Dutch ministry o
Date Published08/2014
InstitutionMinistry of Foreign Affairs
CityThe Hague
TypeReview of the sustainable trade initiative
Publication LanguageEnglish
Keywordsmulti-stakeholder learning, NGO, Trade Unions

The Sustainable Trade Initiative IDH (Initiatief Duurzame Handel) was set up in 2008 on the initiative of the Dutch government, private companies, NGOs and trade unions. The aim was to improve the economic, social and environmental sustainability of production systems in developing countries, focussing on internationally traded commodities like cotton, coffee, tea, cocoa, timber and fish. IDH would work in particular with committed private sector companies in the value chain of these products, ranging from Adidas and Mars to Unilever and Zeeman. Public-private coalitions were to develop sector improvement plans built around voluntary sector-wide sustainability standards such as UTZ Certified and Better Cotton. IDH aimed for a transformation to sustainable commodity markets by bringing public funding and private financial commitments together in large-scale projects for improving production methods and boosting certification of primary producers. This transformation would contribute to the millennium development goals on poverty reduction (MDG1), environmental sustainability (MDG7) and fair trade (MDG8).

This review looks at where IDH stands after six years of support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. For the period 2008-2015, the Ministry committed EUR 123 million in official development assistance (ODA) to build and run the IDH organisation and to co-finance commodity programmes with the private sector. A new subsidy for the period 2016-2020 is currently being considered at IDH’s request. The purpose of this IOB review is therefore to provide an assessment of the progress, results and potential of the initiative, thus enabling the Ministry to make an informed decision about appropriate modalities for further supporting IDH.1

IOB prepared the report on the basis of desk research, some 70 interviews and a workshop with experts and stakeholders on the prospects for sustainable commodity sourcing. A broad range of academic literature, evaluations and impact studies was consulted, in addition to primary sources such as IDH baseline and feasibility studies, annual reports, financial statements, monitoring reports and data on key performance indicators. IOB’s research and interviews focussed in particular on five commodities in IDH’s programme: cocoa, cotton, tea, aquaculture and natural stone.

A limitation encountered was that outcomes and impacts of the new generation of sustainability standards and initiatives have often not been studied deeply enough over longer periods of time. This is also the case for IDH’s own impact studies that started in 2012.2 Another difficulty is attributing results in global supply chains to a single actor: as IDH generally works in partnerships with multiple stakeholders and often supports pre-existing initiatives in strongly changing market settings, it is difficult to isolate the effects to which IDH contributed effectively.



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