Standards And Trade Development Facility (STDF (FAO, WB, WHO, OIE, WTO))

STDFSecretariat [at] wto.org

Trade in food and agricultural products offer a way for farmers, processors and traders in developing countries to increase their incomes and boost economic development. But despite the potential, they face many challenges. Limited capacity to meet food safety, animal and plant health requirements is often one of the major obstacles.

The Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) is a global partnership that supports developing countries in building capacity to implement international sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) standards and requirements and gain and maintain market access. Improved food safety and reduction of pest and disease burdens also play a key role in raising agricultural production, reducing the prevalence of food-borne diseases, increasing food availability and protecting the environment.

The STDF acts as a coordinating and financing mechanism. As part of its coordination role, the STDF raises awareness on the importance of enhancing SPS capacity, identifies and disseminates good practices and strengthens collaboration among providers of SPS assistance. The STDF also provides support and funding for the development and implementation of innovative and collaborative SPS projects.

The founding partner organizations of the STDF are the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Bank (WB), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the World Trade Organization (WTO), which houses and manages the partnership. The Secretariats of the Codex Alimentarius Commission and the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) also participate actively in the STDF. The STDF trust fund is supported by contributions from bilateral donors. A list of current donor members is available on the STDF website. Other organizations involved in SPS-related technical cooperation, including notably the International Trade Centre (ITC) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), as well as selected developing country SPS experts are also actively engaged in the STDF.

STDF's unique role

Global coordination and enhanced collaboration in SPS capacity building

The STDF promotes coherence and coordination in the planning and implementation of SPS capacity-building activities to enhance the results of technical cooperation. By bringing together the SPS expertise and skills of its founding partners and other organizations, the STDF provides a unique forum to exchange information, encourage collaboration and synergies in SPS capacity building, enabling stakeholders involved to achieve more effective and sustainable results together than would be possible alone.

As part of this work, STDF regularly leads a number of priority activities to identify and disseminate good practice to support SPS capacity building. This includes practical research and analysis on specific thematic topics, production of visual aid materials, films and a wide range of information dissemination and outreach activities. Recent examples include the following:

  • The STDF developed a framework to help inform and improve SPS planning and decision-making processes. The framework – known as "Prioritizing SPS Investments for Market Access" (P-IMA) – aims to inform and improve decisions on where to invest in SPS capacity building. The P-IMA user guide, as well as a short briefing note, is available for download on the STDF website.[1]  Developing countries who would like to have more information on how to use and benefit from the P-IMA framework are encouraged to contact the STDF Secretariat.
  • The STDF undertook research work in selected countries in Southern Africa and Southeast Asia on how SPS controls are implemented for selected agri-food products, based on the WTO SPS Agreement. The research work identifies key needs, opportunities and good practices to improve the implementation of SPS measures in a way that reduces costs and reinforces health protection. Building on this work, the STDF coordinated a high-level plenary session, entitled Effective Implementation of SPS Measures to Facilitate Safe Trade, during the 5th Global Review of Aid for Trade. This session brought together a diverse mix of panelists who debated on how trade facilitation can be married with robust, science-and risk-based SPS controls.[2]
  • The STDF organized a seminar on electronic SPS certification. The objective was to raise awareness of the opportunities and the challenges related to the implementation of electronic SPS certification systems in developing countries. The seminar identified good practices and avenues to support the smooth transition from paper-based to automated SPS controls systems. Further STDF work in this area, also in the context of the 6th Global Review of Aid for Trade, is planned.[3]
  • The STDF issued a flagship publication highlighting lessons learned from a wide range of public private partnerships (PPPs) to strengthen the implementation of SPS measures, improve SPS outcomes, enhance market access and raise competitiveness. The research highlights the private’s sector contribution in stimulating innovation, leveraging knowledge and resources, and addressing SPS infrastructure deficits. A recent briefing note illustrates how the STDF partners with the private sector within specific projects in developing countries.[4]


Other recent STDF products:


Developing and delivering SPS projects:

Support for project development: The STDF Secretariat generally acts as a “helpdesk” for applicants seeking to develop innovative projects that strengthen SPS capacity and address a related market access challenge. To kick-start new ways of building knowledge and capacity of SPS requirements, the STDF provides funding for project preparation grants (PPGs). The Secretariat regularly reviews project proposals that are submitted to the STDF for funding and assists beneficiaries in improving them before consideration by the STDF Working Group.

Within the STDF, PPGs are a key mechanism to assist beneficiaries in the articulation of their SPS needs and the development of technically sound and sustainable project proposals. This may include the conduct of feasibility studies to assess the potential impact and economic viability of proposals in terms of expected costs and benefits. An additional component of the STDF’s work in this respect consists of the mobilization of financial resources within the general donor community to fund resultant projects, rather than relying exclusively on the STDF’s limited budgetary funds.

A total of 81 PPGs have been approved and funded by the STDF since its inception. Information on on-going and completed PPGs is available on the STDF website.[5]

Support to implement SPS projects: STDF project grants aim to strengthen SPS capacity in developing countries, in line with beneficiary's priorities. Projects address key food safety, animal and/or plant health issues that affect the ability to gain and/or maintain market access. Both public and private sector stakeholders benefit. Favorable consideration is given to projects that are able to:

  • identify, develop and disseminate good practice in SPS-related technical cooperation, including the development and application of innovative and replicable approaches;
  • apply regional approaches to address SPS constraints;
  • implement collaborative approaches across food safety, animal and plant health and trade, and benefit from the involvement of two or more STDF partners or relevant organizations.

To date, the STDF has approved 76 projects to help developing countries build their knowledge and capability of SPS measures, promote safe trade in food and agriculture and raise incomes of small-scale producers. Information on on-going and completed projects is available on the STDF website.[6]

Recommended steps to follow when seeking PG or PPG funding opportunities with the STDF:

  1. Browse the PPG http://www.standardsfacility.org/projectpreparationgrants and PG http://www.standardsfacility.org/projectgrants webpages for examples of previous projects.
  2. Carefully read the guidance note for applicants:


  1. Consult relevant stakeholders in the country/region.
  2. Send a brief concept note of your potential project for feedback on eligibility and likelihood of funding to the STD Secretariat  (STDFSecretariat [at] wto.org).
  3. Fill out an application form (http://www.standardsfacility.org/application-forms) and submit it electronically to the Secretariat before the deadline.




The STDF comprises three main bodies[7]:

  • The Policy Committee consists of high-level representatives of STDF’s partners and donors, as well as selected SPS experts of developing countries. The Policy Committee decides on policy and strategy and is responsible for oversight of the partnership.
  • The Working Group consists of technical-level representatives of STDF founding partners and donors, as well as selected SPS experts of developing countries. It also includes participation by the Code and IPPC Secretariats, as well as a wide range of other organizations with a role in SPS capacity building, such as ITC and UNIDO. It reviews and approves the STDF’s work programs and funding requests, and oversees operation of the STDF Secretariat.
  • The STDF Secretariat implements STDF’s work program and is housed in the WTO.

The Policy Committee meets on a need basis. The Working Group normally meets at least twice per year (usually back-to-back with WTO-SPS Committee meetings in Geneva). Decisions are taken by consensus.

Key STDF documents including the Medium Term Strategy (2015-2019), Operational Rules, the STDF Work Plan and M&E Framework are available at: http://www.standardsfacility.org/key-documents.



[1] http://www.standardsfacility.org/p-ima

[2] http://www.standardsfacility.org/facilitating-safe-trade

[3] http://www.standardsfacility.org/SPS-eCert

[4] http://www.standardsfacility.org/public-private-partnerships

[5] http://www.standardsfacility.org/projectpreparationgrants

[6] http://www.standardsfacility.org/projectgrants

[7] http://www.standardsfacility.org/how-we-operate

Selected TCB programmes and initiatives in this guide

Not listed in any categories