Press releases

International Trade Centre, 70 organizations launch sustainability call to action to support small businesses

20 September 2023
ITC News

(New York/Geneva) Small businesses stand to play a bigger role in – and benefit from – sustainable practices along global value chains with the launch today of the ‘Uniting Sustainable Actions’ call to action by the United Nations small business agency, the International Trade Centre (ITC), alongside 70 companies and institutions.

The launch of the call to action – designed to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the midpoint to 2030 – comes on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, during the opening of the Good Trade Summit, hosted by ITC and the Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU).

The call to action is endorsed by over 70 early adopters, including the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, brand members of the Initiative for Compliance and Sustainability, sustainability initiatives such as the Global Organic Textile Standard, and BCIU.

Committing to five sustainability pillars

The call to action covers five pillars that businesses, organizations and institutions can publicly commit to, and engage with other likeminded organizations, in support of sustainable trade through small businesses:

  1. Small business empowerment: Recognize small businesses as catalysts for economic resilience, innovation and sustainable development by amplifying their voices, building their capacity and empowering them to shape global trade practices.
  2. Sustainability: Promote comprehensive sustainability integration – covering social, environmental, economic and ethical aspects – and seek to minimize negative impact, foster innovation and create a more resilient, responsible and inclusive global economy.
  3. Transparency: Build trust by openly sharing best practices and insights, paving the way for positive change along global value chains.
  4. Collaboration: Unite efforts across sectors and industries to streamline resources, reduce duplication and enhance the effectiveness of sustainability initiatives, maximizing efficiency.
  5. Digitalization: Make non-confidential supply chain information accessible online to empower stakeholders to make informed decisions and commit to responsible practices.

Companies and institutions, join the ‘Uniting Sustainable Actions’ call to action here.

‘Uniting sustainable actions’ to fill a gap

This initiative distinguishes itself from other sustainability initiatives through its emphasis on small business empowerment and comprehensive sustainability integration. While other initiatives focus on specific aspects of sustainability, ‘Uniting Sustainable Actions’ offers a holistic commitment that spans multiple dimensions and leverages the potential of small businesses as active contributors.

At the launch event, ITC Executive Director Pamela Coke-Hamilton said: ‘What does this call to action entail? Its five principles aren’t just buzzwords: They are integral to changing how our supply chains work, making trade more sustainable, relationships more transparent and partnerships along supply chains stronger.’

BCIU President and CEO Peter Tichansky said: ‘The “Uniting Sustainable Actions” call to action is an important tool to help coalesce global stakeholders around specific priority commitments that, if embraced, will help millions across the value chain. By empowering small businesses, fostering comprehensive sustainability integration and promoting open collaboration, these pillars set a high standard for how signatories can hold themselves accountable and inspire others, and in the process, work to deliver on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.’

Marking initial successes

The ‘Uniting Sustainable Actions’ call to action has already led to results, among early signatories:

Jott, a responsible clothing brand, has comprehensively mapped its supply chain, made information available to consumers and embraced compliance with circular economy laws.

The Global Organic Textile Standard is working with other sustainability initiatives to harmonize data reporting formats at the certificate level to enhance transparency and trust in sustainability claims.

The Initiative for Compliance and Sustainability is fostering transparency along global value chains by sharing best practices and fostering collaboration among stakeholders.

Notes for the Editor

About the International Trade Centre - The International Trade Centre is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

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Media contact

Susanna Pak

Senior Strategic Communications Officer

International Trade Centre

E: pak [at]

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