This paper sets out some background information and parameters for the regionally based research project. The following two sections of the paper focus more specifically on the standards process and its capacity requirements. What capacities are required to effectively participate in the making and use of international and national standards? And what options are available for developing countries to promote increased access to this trade promotion process? They also provide an indication of the research needs that might be subject to assessment by each regional group. Section 4 then suggests some ways in which these standards can restrict market access for goods from developing countries. Annex 1 proposes a research agenda that will allow common elements to be identified, while still providing the flexibility to accommodate regional differences. Annex 2 then provides a review of the relationship between standards for sustainable trade and the WTO, in particular the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade. Annex 3 includes contact information for the project partners and advisory committee.