Canadian certification marks: A pathway to SDGs

The United Nations (UN)'s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of 17 interconnected goals designed to address various global issues ranging from social and economic in nature to environmental crises. The targets identified by these goals are set to come to term in 2030. World leaders and organizations that have pledged their commitment to these goals are guided by ambitious visions, such as ending poverty and hunger, ensuring healthy living, promoting quality education and fostering environmental sustainability for the world.

What is a certification mark?

A certification mark is a type of trademark that can be licensed to individuals or companies for the purpose of showing that certain goods or services meet a defined standard. While an ordinary trademark serves to differentiate the products or services of the mark owner from those of another entity, a certification mark sets apart goods or services that adhere to a specified standard from those that do not meet that standard. As such, certification marks play a crucial role in informing consumers of which products are meeting specific standards. These standards include:

  • the character or quality of the goods/services
  • the working conditions under which the goods are produced or services performed
  • the class of persons by whom the goods or services are produced or provided
  • the area within which the goods are produced or services are performed

Five examples of certification marks that highlight SDGs

The owner of a certification mark is the person or group by whom the defined standard has been established. These criteria have the potential to elevate industry standards and encourage businesses to think sustainably about their practices and methods of production, while promoting consumer awareness of how their choices in the market can have positive global impacts.

In honour of World Intellectual Property (IP) Day 2024, let's explore 5 examples of how IP and certification marks are raising the bar for sustainability for consumers and producers alike, and helping to shape a more equitable future for our planet and our people.

Fair Trade Certified certification mark  design owned by Fair Trade International

1. One prominent example is the Fairtrade certification mark. Products bearing this mark guarantee fair wages, ethical sourcing and environmentally sustainable practices. Aligning with SDG 8: Decent work and economic growth and SDG 12: Responsible consumption and production, this certification mark tells the consumer that a certain product uses sustainable production means and promotes social and economic development.

The Centre for Systems Integration's organic goods certification mark design
Certified Organic by / Certifiée biologique par CSI Centre for Systems Integration & design — 1308101

2. Another example of this can be seen in goods accredited by the Certified Organic by Centre for Systems Integration (CSI) certification mark. This mark signifies that the product has met stringent standards observed by not only the agriculture growers, but also, by all the people involved in the handling and processing of the food as it journeys to the consumer. Products carrying this mark contribute to SDG 2: Zero hunger, by promoting sustainable agriculture. Additionally, by avoiding harmful pesticides and fostering biodiversity, it contributes to SDG 15: Life on land.

Energy Star certification mark established by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

3. In the energy sector, the international ENERGY STAR certification mark endorses products, such as appliances and printers, that are highly energy efficient. This mark exemplifies how IP can connote eco-friendly choices and sustainable energy alternatives, and aligns with SDG 13: Climate action.

Marine Stewardship Council certification mark owned by the Marine Stewardship Council

4. In support of SDG 14: Life below water, consumers can look for certain certification marks to help them make mindful choices to protect marine ecosystems. For example, you can look for a blue Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification logo at stores, which is only applied to wild fish or seafood from fisheries that have been certified to the MSC Fisheries Standard, a set of requirements for sustainable fishing which includes responsible aquaculture principles like fishing from healthy stocks and discouraging overfishing.

Sustainable Forestry Initiative certification mark

5. The Sustainable Forestry Initiative certification mark helps consumers identify that a product's wood fibers originate from certified forests, recycled material and other responsible sources. This Canadian certification mark contributes to SDG 15: Life on land, by promoting responsible forest management and establishing strict environmental and social standards to mitigate deforestation and the loss of biodiversity.


In embracing certification marks aligned with the UN's SDGs, Canada ensures the quality of its products and demonstrates a commitment to global sustainability. By encouraging businesses to adopt responsible practices, certification marks become a powerful tool in achieving a more equitable, environmentally conscious and socially responsible world. Learn more about the Government of Canada's plan to take action and make progress on the SDGs by visiting the Canada and the Sustainable Development Goals web page.

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