Key International CSR and Sustainability Standards

At this page you will find the non-exhaustive list of main international standards related to corporate responsibility and sustainability. Some of these standards are directly targeting business companies and their activities, while others are relevant for various sectors, among them for private sector as well.

Many declarations, conventions and agreements, as well as guidelines and principles, recommendations and management system standards have been developed, dealing with various aspects and dimensions of corporate responsibility. Aimed at promoting responsible business conduct, defining fundamental principles and norms of responsible business conduct and providing tools for their implementation, these documents are referred to as Instruments of Corporate Social Responsibility. 

These diverse instruments differ thematically as well as by coverage area (e.g. international, regional, or national standards). They can also be either compulsory or voluntary, could have different origins and target different audiences. 

Internationally recognized CSR instruments are developed by Governments, or inter-Governmental and international organizations. Some instruments are also developed by the private and public sectors and have gained international recognition.  

Government level international tools are: international conventions, declarations and guidelines on issues like human rights, labor rights, environment protections. Majority of Government-level instruments determine the responsibilities of the Governments in their implementation, however private comapnies of signatory States are also required to consider the conventions and declarations signed by their respective countries. 

Private sector and civil society organizations also have an important role in the development and adoption of CSR tools. These non-Governmental instruments are voluntary in their essence, however, many of them are highly reputable and trusted and have international recognition.

From the contents point of view, there are general CRS instruments aimed at regulating all or most of CSR related aspects, and there are also thematic standards addressing separate aspects of responsible business (e.g. international standards on environment protection, international standards on human rights, sustainability reporting standards, etc.).