Sustainable Standard-Setting, Climate Change and the TBT Agreement

33 Pages Posted: 28 Jan 2016

See all articles by Panos Delimatsis

Panos Delimatsis

Tilburg Law and Economics Center (TILEC); Tilburg Law School

Date Written: January 27, 2016


The increased importance of environmental protection led to the introduction of sustainability-related criteria in standard-setting practices. A discomfort with the functioning, working methods and certain rigidities of the global standardizing bodies such as the ISO led to a mushrooming of a new generation of private standard-setters at the transnational level that wanted to have a more direct influence over global production and supply chains. Many of these initiatives started as coalitions of relatively powerful downstream retailers or as domestic hybrid initiatives that went global due to their good reputation in setting standards for business conduct. Against this background, this paper reviews the current landscape of voluntary sustainability standards (VSS) globally as a means to organize, coordinate and manage efforts for corporate responsibility as well as climate change mitigation and adaptation. As these schemes grow in prominence, their effects on trade flows also become more visible and sometimes even worrisome. The paper analyses in particular whether the rules set out in the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) and the Code of Good Practice can tame this increasingly important form of transnational rule-making.

Keywords: sustainable standardization, voluntary sustainability standards, ‘green’ standard-setting, climate change, WTO, TBT Agreement, Code of Good Practice

JEL Classification: F02, F13, F18, F64, K22, K32, K33, Q17, Q27, Q56

Suggested Citation

Delimatsis, Panagiotis, Sustainable Standard-Setting, Climate Change and the TBT Agreement (January 27, 2016). Tilburg Law School Research Paper No. 3/2016, TILEC Discussion Paper No. 2016-003, Available at SSRN: or

Panagiotis Delimatsis (Contact Author)

Tilburg Law and Economics Center (TILEC) ( email )

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Postbus 90153
Tilburg, NL-5000 LE
0031 13 466 8251 (Phone)
0031 13 466 8047 (Fax)


Tilburg Law School ( email )

Warandelaan 2
Postbus 90153
Tilburg, 5000 LE

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