Impacts Code

Colourful yarns for rugmaking © Scott Welker, GoodWeave USA
Colourful yarns for rugmaking © Scott Welker, GoodWeave USA
The ISEAL Code of Good Practice for Assessing the Impacts of Social and Environmental Standards (Impacts Code) helps standards systems to better understand the sustainability results of their work, as well as the effectiveness of their programs.

The Impacts Code offers a framework for building a monitoring and evaluation system capable of examining both short-term and long-term outcomes and requires standards systems to publicly report on the results of their evaluations. All standard-setting organisations that are members of the ISEAL Alliance commit to implementing the Impacts Code.

The Impacts Code requires standards systems to develop and implement a monitoring and evaluation plan that includes all the steps required to assess their contributions to social and environmental impact. These steps include identifying the impact they are seeking to achieve, defining strategies, choosing indicators and collecting data, conducting regular analysis and reporting of data as well as additional impact evaluations, and setting up feedback loops to improve their standard’s content and systems over time.

Download the Impacts Code

Read an online version of the Impacts Code here

Demonstrating and Improving Poverty Impacts

ISEAL members contributed actively to the development of ISEAL Impacts Code and recognise the importance of understanding, communicating and learning from the impacts of their programs. With support from the Ford Foundation, ISEAL and its agriculture and forestry members have launched a five year project to understand the contribution that standard systems make towards improving livelihoods and reducing poverty among smallholder producers and labourers. ISEAL members directly involved in this project include Forest Stewardship Council, Fairtrade International, 4C Association, Rainforest Alliance/Sustainable Agriculture Network, UTZ Certified and Union for Ethical Bio Trade.

In this project and other efforts to implement the Impacts Code, ISEAL and its members seek to build on expertise, knowledge, and systems already developed by other organisations with experience in monitoring and evaluation of sustainability standards. This includes organisations such as the Committee on Sustainability Assessment (COSA) and research organisations like CATIE.

For more information about the Impacts Code or projects related to its implementation, please contact our Impacts Director, Kristin Komives at

To download the latest version of the Impacts Code, click here.  

Related information and resources

Revised Impacts Code now available

The ISEAL Impacts Code was revised and updated in late 2014 and is now available for reading and download.

ISEAL Impacts Code of Good Practice

On this page you can download the latest version (version 2, approved in December 2014) of the Code of Good Practice for Assessing the Impacts of Social and Environmental Standards Systems (ISEAL Impacts Code).

Impacts Code Revision 2nd Consultation Comments

Comments from the 2nd 60-day consultation period on the 2nd draft revision (Version 1.2) of the Impacts Code.

Towards bigger impact: ISEAL Impacts Code now under revision

The Impacts Code is being revised until May 2014 and a public consultation is now open for you to share your input on how the code should be reshaped. Give us your feedback until 15 December.

Draft ISEAL Impacts Code Revision - October 2013

Download the first draft revision of the Impacts Code, open for public consultation until 15 December.

Snapshot of the Impacts Code

This is a four page summary of the ISEAL Impacts Code that offers a brief introduction to the key concepts in the longer technical document.

WWF and ISEAL exploring impacts together

WWF is looking to sustainability standards to transform the production of the world's key commodities. Jason LaChappelle looks at WWF's Market Transformation Initiative and the shared goal with ISEAL to demonstrate certification impacts.

ISEAL Alliance Issues First Annual Report

ISEAL has published its first ever annual report. Released on 22 September 2011, ISEAL’s 2010 Annual Report highlights work on the groundbreaking Impacts Code and the growth in the ISEAL learning community.

Measuring the Impacts of Certification

In a thought-provoking session at the ISEAL Public Day Conference Dr. Kristin Komives, Monitoring and Evaluation Manager at the ISEAL Alliance, and Dr. Elizabeth Kennedy, Director of Evaluation & Research at the Rainforest Alliance, took a closer look at how to assess the impacts of certification.

Update: Launch of the ISEAL Impacts Code this Month

Brazil is a country already strongly engaged in moving to more socially and environmentally responsible practices. It has some of the strongest environmental laws in the world, an effective NGO movement and a supportive financial sector.