ISEAL Brainstorming Session 2016


The Impacts of Sustainability Standards: Identifying Knowledge Gaps and Priority Questions

ISEAL Brainstorming Session 2016 | York University, Toronto | May 17, 2016

This was a public brainstorming session at York University on the ISEAL Alliance’s draft Collaborative Research Agenda, with Vidya Rangan and Lara Koritzke of the ISEAL Alliance.


Field school for cocoa farmers in Ivory Coast © UTZ Certified

Interest in and research on the impacts of sustainability standards are steadily on the rise. ISEAL, the global umbrella association of sustainability standards systems, is developing a Collaborative Research Agenda with input from researchers and practitioners. ISEAL’s aim is to identify key knowledge gaps and priority questions on sustainability standards. This open brainstorming session, presented in collaboration with the Transnational Business Governance Interactions research network, focused on the theme of governance and regulation. It asked for participants’ input on three questions:

  1. Is ISEAL asking the right questions about the role of sustainability standards in governance and regulation?
  2. Which questions should have the highest priority?
  3. Should research focus on specific sectors or geographies in relation to particular questions?

ISEAL’s draft Collaborative Research Agenda is available here, and ISEAL has blogged about it here. The role of sustainability standards as tools of governance and regulation is one of six research themes. Discussion of this theme is found on page 8, though questions related to governance arise throughout the document.

Vidya Rangan leads ISEAL Research Agenda brainstorming session

This public brainstorming session was led by Vidya Rangan, ISEAL’s Manager, Impacts. Vidya’s role is to advance ISEAL’s strategic engagement with the research community with a view to generating high quality research that meets the needs and interests of the ISEAL Alliance. She is responsible for specific evaluation, research and learning projects with ISEAL member and partner organisations and for supporting the implementation of the next phase of the Demonstrating and Improving Poverty Impacts (DIPI) project.


Vidya was joined by Lara Koritzke, ISEAL’s Director of Development and Communications, who facilitated one of three breakout groups. The other two breakout groups were facilitated by Vidya and by York University’s Stepan Wood. Twenty researchers and students from York University and beyond participated in the session.

This session was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, York University, Osgoode Hall Law School, Schulich School of Business and the ISEAL Alliance.