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Looking for the (missing) indicators of social sustainability - Evidence from sustainability standards in the coffe sector

Lemeilleur S., Vagneron I.. 2010. In : Actes des 4èmes journées INRA-SFER-CIRAD de recherches en sciences sociales, 9-10 décembre 2010, Rennes. Paris : SFER, 12 p.. Journées de recherches en sciences sociales. 4, 2010-12-09/2010-12-10, Rennes (France).

Rising consumer interest for ethical and/or responsible products and the growing interweaving of social and environmental issues question the ability of scientific methods to correctly assess social impacts. To this day however, no consensus has yet been reached on relevant indicators to assess social impacts. In this article, we try to identify consistent indicators of social sustainability, based on the study and comparison of well-known sustainability standards currently used in the coffee sector (FLO, ESR, IMO, ETI, UTZ, Rainforest Alliance and Globalgap). The choice of relevant indicators is based on their realism and applicability, and on existing consensus among the standards on "minimal requirements" to certify sustainable practices in the coffee sector. Our main contributions to the debate on the choice of significant and relevant indicators are: to identify permanent features and areas of consensus between the different standards studied; and to question the definition of a socially sustainable product.

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