Sustainability standards are increasing in use and scope, and a wide variety of claims are being made about the environmental and social attributes of products. Stakeholders need to understand what makes standards systems credible, whether they are effective and how to evaluate and support them. It is also essential to develop a tool that provides a common way of organising the language used to claim sustainability in the marketplace.
Building from its Draft Credibility Principles, ISEAL is leading a global consultation to generate consensus on a set of Credibility Principles that represent the core values upon which effective standards are built. A complementary tool for understanding market claims will also be developed.
What are we trying to achieve?
A globally agreed set of Credibility Principles that will be an international reference
- ISEAL aims to achieve consensus on Credibility Principles that will become the global reference for discussions centred on credibility in sustainability standards. This will also include a complementary tool that describes and categorises sustainability claims in the market.
A tool that improves effectiveness
- The Credibility Principles will inform good practice and improve the effectiveness of standard systems in achieving positive social and environmental impacts. If stakeholders agree on what credibility looks like, this will push sustainability standards to adopt good practice. ISEAL’s Codes of Good Practice will emphasise the Credibility Principles and provide more guidance for standards to implement them.
By clearly defining the fundamental principles in credible standards and categorising the language used to make sustainability claims, we will:
- Ensure products are sourced from producers and enterprises achieving sustainability
- Distinguish good practice from good marketing
- Avoid greenwashing
How will this build on existing work?
ISEAL is leading this conversation because of its experience in facilitating a deeper understanding of how to improve sustainability standards. The Credibility Principles will capture our collective knowledge of the concepts and actions that are critical to the effectiveness of sustainability standards, build on ISEAL’s Codes of Good Practice and guide ISEAL in considering what additional tools or Codes are needed.
How can I participate?
ISEAL is committed to an open and inclusive process. There are several ways you can get involved:
Join the Steering Committee
You can express interest in joining this 10-12 person group that will be responsible for the oversight of development of the Credibility Principles. Please send expressions of interest by 25 April 2012.
The Steering Committee will build awareness and monitor the progress of the consultation, strengthen links with relevant stakeholders and ultimately approve the final content. ISEAL is seeking a diverse group made up of experienced individuals that are deeply engaged with the sustainability standards movement. We are seeking representation from businesses, consumers, information platforms, governments, NGOs, producers and sustainability standards systems. The final Credibility Principles will be completed in mid 2013.
An initial meeting of the Steering Committee will be held at the end of June 2012. Download the overview document of the Credibility Principles consultation process for more information about the selection criteria and for a rough Steering Committee meeting schedule.
Participate in the Global Consultation
- You can attend consultation workshops held by ISEAL in September through November 2012 in Brazil, India, China, and select locations in Europe and North America.
- You can provide online input during two 60-day public consultations, during which ISEAL will actively reach out to stakeholders for input. Informal contributions are also welcome at any time.
- You can provide direct comments in writing or through interview.
Comments and Contact
For more information about the global consultation or to express interest in the Steering Committee, please contact ISEAL’s Senior Credibility Manager, Amy Jackson, at amy [at] isealalliance [dot] org
- Download an overview of the Credibility Principles consultation process
- Download a short factsheet about ISEAL's Draft Credibility Principles
- Download the (*) Draft Credibility Principles
(*) subject to change prior to consultation
The Credibility Principles consultation is funded through a partnership between ISEAL and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).