Trade Standard is a project proposal for the establishment of an open International Knowledge & Evaluation Platform for Goods, Technology & Trade that is founded on the Wikipedia model, principles and codes.
Trade Standard is a project for (a) a public knowledge base for all information about goods, technology and (way of) trade to stimulate international development, (b) a public ethic standard and indicator to evaluate international trade and industry, and (c) a public register to verify the ethical classification of goods, technology and trade. All of these features would be integrated into one interactive platform.
The high aim of Trade Standard is an internet platform similar to Wikipedia. The only differences are: (1) a focus on technical and ethical subjects, (2) equal layouts for all articles, including a chapter for “ethical, social and sustainable characteristics” (see image), and (3) the addition of registers to list the characteristics of chemicals, products etc.
Trade Standard is an initiative with high potential that would (a) stimulate international spread of free (technical) information, (b) connect technology with ethics, and (c) offer consumers the ability to choose their products with the highest standards in mind, potentially changing the overall culture of international trade and industry.
In short, Trade Standard is an initiative that can use the Wikipedia-model to help citizens and consumers determine the shape of their social world -- to make shopping an exercize in global civil governance.
Motivation for the project
To this day citizens/consumers world-wide have hardly any information, say and influence on ethical issues in international trade and industry. Transparency in the marketplace is minimal. Ethical indicators, such as eco-labels and international standards for Corporate Social Responsibility, Fair Trade and Sustainable Development, are voluntary guidelines and often questionable. And, international governance and legislation continues to be inadequate to upgrade the market as main contributor of (maintaining) the many social and ecological problems in the world.
Trade Standard would offer civil society the chance to speak out!
The aim & function of Trade Standard
Development, prosperity and wellbeing for all -- both local and global -- is best stimulated with open systems, such as the free market economy, democratic governance, and unbound mass communication such as the internet where (access to) information is guaranteed. This process however is to this day severely undermined by (a) lack of public access to information about goods, technology and (way of) trade, (b) the unethical and unsustainable activities of international trade and industry, and (c) ineffective international agreements that are ignored by trade, industry, politics and governments.
The aim of Trade Standard is to publicly develop:
- an open internet knowledge platform and database for all of society to publicly describe and pass on all information about goods, technology and (way of) trade in the international free market economy.
- a global society oriented ethic standard and indicator to publicly evaluate the measure of (un)ethical, (un)social and (un)sustainable aspects of goods, technology and trade and their effects on human beings, local and global society, environment, nature and earth.
- an online register of information to effectively verify the ethic classification/indicator of goods, technology and trade, including branded products and companies.
The function of Trade Standard is:
- Spread knowledge over the world to stimulate technical knowledge, education, development, independence and new sustainable development.
- Interconnect the civil society with trade, industry and science to stimulate communication about the many social and ecological problems in the world.
- Raise consciousness of the effects of today’s goods, technology and practices in trade and industry on human beings, local and global society, environment, nature and earth. The end result of popular knowledge of these issues is that it would effectively stimulate Corporate Social Responsibility, Fair Trade and Sustainable Development.
International public platform and database
The Trade Standard-Internet platform and database is a copy of Wikipedia with the same editorial, technical and social tools, elements and possibilities. The main differences are the ‘fixed’ layout frame (see below) and the addition of registers. And, if necessary, the addition of inquiry modules (which may be handled by the discussion page feature).
Example of the layout of a Trade Standard-article:
- Name company, good or technology
- UPC code
- General aspects of product or service
- Technical applications
- Free information (with ‘table of contents’), aka the register
- Links (to scientific research) for complete information about the history, manufacturers etc.
- Ethical, social & sustainable characteristics
- Alternative products
- Related issues or products
Direct links from Wikipedia will boost world-wide attention, participation and development of the database. Full cooperation with the Wikimedia Foundation would foster open, neutral and independent development.
International trade standard indicators
One might ask, "How are the entries in the database evaluated?" There are a number of different possibilities.
The Trade Label model
The ethical, social and sustainable characteristics of goods, technology and trade would be evaluated with six indicators +++ (+3), ++ (+2), + (+1), - (-1), - - (-2), - - - (-3) on the basis of two categories with each three fundamental principles (proposal):
The indicators and fundamental principles would offer people the chance to value ethical characteristics, which in return empower them as individual (citizen, consumer, employee, employer, stakeholder etc.) connected with a company (local business or multinational corporation), interest group or government (local, national and international) to make conscious choices when a good, technology or form of trade is bought, oriented on or used.
If the database and standard have reached a constructive level, citizens, consumers, NGO’s, employees and stakeholders will start to use the indicators –3 to –1 to call companies, organisations and governments to account!
Three examples of the effects of ethic indicators in the international free market economy:
- Consumers that read or hear that a product is ‘not ethical’ will start to shift over to other products, which will effectively stimulate trade and industry to upgrade their products.
- Companies are not eager to (see their products) being classified with Indicator - - or -2, which will effectively stimulate trade and industry to upgrade their processes and products..
- Stakeholders have a tool to refer to, which will extra effect example 1 and 2.
This model is connected to Trade Label, a fast information system for consumers and companies with an ethic, multifaceted product label and market verification system for food, goods, products and services that offers everyone direct insight in the ethic backgrounds of products and product chains.
The Quick Summary model
Another idea is to just provide a quick summary of the information that is provided in a paragraph or two, regarding the working conditions of the company or companies, materials used, etc. The advantage of such a format would be that it preserves an NPOV aim, and allows the consumer to make their own evaluations on the basis of those facts according to their individual ethics.
The information system
An online database and standard would be interactive, which makes fast search for information relatively easy. By linking basic information to registers (product surveys etc.) the platform, information and evaluation becomes multifunctional and flexible.
Trade Standard has the potential to become a vast neutral and independent International Information & Evaluation Platform for Trade, Industry & Society with many well-liked characteristics and links that today's international trade standards all miss.
In order to promote accuracy, the Trade Standard may remove anonymous postings, and enforce citations from respectable sources. If no source is available, then users might create Wiki-pages of their own providing evidence. However, accuracy cannot be guaranteed, and the project should warn that it is not responsible for the content provided by users.