SBP Celebrates Becoming an ISEAL Community Member

SBP has today announced that it has been accepted as an ISEAL Community Member.

ISEAL is the global membership organisation for ambitious, collaborative and transparent sustainability systems. Through driving collective efforts to tackle the most pressing sustainability issues, ISEAL strives to create a world where markets are a force for good.

To qualify as an ISEAL Community Member, SBP had to demonstrate that it meets a number of exacting eligibility criteria and commit to meeting improvement criteria to maintain Community Member status.

ISEAL’s Executive Director, Karin Kreider said, “I would like to congratulate the Sustainable Biomass Program on becoming an ISEAL Community Member. This exciting step reflects SBP’s commitment to ongoing improvement and deepening their credible practices as they work to make a net positive contribution to national and international climate goals”.

Carsten Huljus, SBP Chief Executive Officer, commented, “We are delighted to have been accepted as an ISEAL Community Member. In aspiring to introduce best practice across our operations we have been greatly influenced by ISEAL’s credibility principles and codes. We are committed to continual improvement of all that we do to ensure we deliver an effective and efficient certification system that is accessible to our users and understood by our stakeholders”.

As a Community Member, SBP joins a growing number of well-respected sustainability systems that are driving positive social and environmental change across multiple sectors. We look forward to becoming an active participant in the ISEAL community.

For more information on ISEAL visit: isealalliance.org

RED II Update

The following provides an update on the status of the recast EU Renewable Energy Directive 2018/2001 (REDII) and sets out the activities underway to secure the recognition of the current SBP Standards under REDII.

To recap, EU Member States had until 1 July 2021 to transpose REDII into national law. Compliance with REDII requirements may be demonstrated via voluntary certification schemes that are approved by the European Commission. Only a few EU Member States implemented REDII on time, and the European Commission has not yet been able to fully complete the approval process for the voluntary certification schemes. The Commission has informed us that approval process will be completed following finalisation of the implementing acts, which is expected by the end of the year.

SBP submitted an application for the approval of our current Standards under REDII back in October 2020. Since then we have engaged with the European Commission (the Commission) and its consultants responsible for evaluating all voluntary schemes.

Following an initial evaluation of our Standards, a number of gaps were identified. Those gaps have been addressed in the form of a new Instruction Document (currently in draft form) that will accompany the current Standards. That draft document was submitted to the Commission for evaluation in June and we await feedback before the document is put through our internal Document Development Procedure and ultimately published and made effective.

Instruction Documents to bridge the gaps between the SBP Standards and the requirements of specific countries/jurisdictions have been used already to good effect, for example, in the Netherlands and Flanders, Belgium. We are adopting a similar approach with REDII, which means that in order for biomass to be REDII-compliant and carry a REDII-compliant claim, it must be compliant with our current Standards and the normative requirements stipulated in the new Instruction Document (Instruction Document REDII).

There are two aspects to Instruction Document REDII. The first covers the REDII-specific sustainability requirements. If a Biomass Producer with a Supply Base Evaluation in its SBP certification scope is sourcing primary feedstock and wishes to produce and sell biomass that is REDII-compliant it must comply with the REDII-specific sustainability requirements. If a Biomass Producer without a Supply Base Evaluation in its SBP certification scope is sourcing primary feedstock and wishes to produce and sell biomass that is REDII-compliant it must comply with the REDII-specific sustainability requirements and implement a Supply Base Evaluation mechanism (as detailed in Standard 2) to do so.

The second aspect covers requirements for demonstrating the origin of the feedstock. If a Biomass Producer is sourcing secondary or tertiary feedstock it must demonstrate the origin of the feedstock in accordance with Instruction Document REDII. Note that secondary/tertiary feedstock does not have to meet any sustainability criteria to be REDII-compliant, therefore, the sustainability requirements of Instruction Document REDII are not applicable.

On the assumption that our current Standards and the new Instruction Document are approved, the following illustrates various scenarios for SBP-certified Biomass Producers regarding REDII compliance:

Sourcing primary feedstock

Sourcing secondary/ tertiary feedstock Supply Base Evaluation Instruction Document REDII REDII-compliant
Biomass Producer A Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Biomass Producer B Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Biomass Producer C Yes No Yes No No
Biomass Producer D Yes No No Yes1 No
Biomass Producer E No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Biomass Producer F No Yes No Yes2 Yes

Notes:

1                Biomass Producer D must extend its scope in accordance with Instruction Document REDII and implement a Supply Base Evaluation mechanism to meet the sustainability criteria of Instruction Document REDII if it wishes to produce and sell REDII-compliant biomass.

2                Biomass Producer F must comply with the requirements of Instruction Document REDII for demonstrating the origin of the feedstock.

As noted above we have submitted our current Standards only for evaluation. We will integrate the specific REDII requirements into the revised Standards that are being developed as part of the ongoing Standards Development Process. Therefore, any claims under the revised Standards will be REDII-compliant by default, that is, without the need to meet any additional requirements.

As soon as we have news of our application, which we understand will not be before the end of August, we will let you know and clarify next steps, which will likely include a webinar for Certificate Holders and additional training for Certification Bodies.

SBP-Endorsed Regional Risk Assessment for the Province of British Columbia, Canada Published

SBP has today published the SBP-endorsed Regional Risk Assessment (RRA) for the province of British Columbia, Canada.

The Wood Pellet Association of Canada (WPAC) initiated the RRA in 2018 to verify the legality and sustainability of uncertified feedstock in the province. Hopkin Forest Management Consulting Ltd and a team of independent natural resource and certification professionals formed the Working Body responsible for developing the RRA. The RRA was developed in accordance with the SBP RRA Procedure.

SBP-endorsed RRAs are a key part of SBP’s focus on identifying and mitigating risks associated with sustainably sourcing feedstock for biomass pellet and woodchip production. RRAs evaluate an entire geographic region and determine the risks associated with sourcing feedstock from that region. Thus, the need for individual Biomass Producers to conduct risk assessments is avoided and consistency between Biomass Producers’ risk assessments is guaranteed.

The SBP RRA Procedure also ensures active engagement with a diverse range of stakeholders in the region, as well as an SBP public consultation for all stakeholders.

The SBP-endorsed Regional Risk Assessment for the province of British Columbia, Canada and the SBP response to consultation, summarising the comments received from stakeholders, can be found at: https://sbp-cert.org/documents/standards-documents/risk-assessments/british-columbia/.

Consultation on Minor Update and Extension of the Validity of the Regional Risk Assessment for Estonia

SBP has today opened a public consultation on a minor update and extension of the validity of the Regional Risk Assessment (RRA) for Estonia. Interested parties are invited to provide written comments.

In accordance with the SBP RRA Procedure, SBP-endorsed RRAs remain valid for a period of five years from the approval date. In April 2021, the RRA for Estonia reached the end of its validity. In the light of the ongoing Standards Development, SBP has decided to conduct a minor update of the RRA for Estonia focusing on several indicators where new data has become available. The Working Body (WB) responsible for conducting the original RRA, Preferred by Nature (formerly NEPCon), was assigned to undertake the update.

Since the validity of the original RRA has expired but the minor update is still in progress, the validity may be extended for up to six months in accordance with the SBP RRA Procedure, Clause 7.1.4a). Therefore, the original RRA will remain valid until the minor update has been completed or six months has expired, whichever comes first.

SBP is seeking stakeholder feedback on the proposal to make minor updates to the existing SBP-endorsed RRA for Estonia and extend its validity to coincide with the end of the transition period for the revised SBP Standards (v2.0) that are being developed as part of the Standards Development Process.

Once the revised Standards are published there will be a transition period allowing time for Certificate Holders to comply with the revised requirements. From the end of that transition period it will be mandatory for all Certificate Holders to comply with the revised requirements. The RRAs will require updating in line with the revised Standards and that will be undertaken in a timely fashion within the same transition period, such that complying with the requirements of the updated RRAs will also be mandatory from the end of the transition period.

The consultation draft RRA may be viewed at: https://sbp-cert.org/documents/consultation-documents/live-consultations/minor-update-and-extension-of-the-validity-of-the-regional-risk-assessment-for-estonia/. Interested parties are invited to provide written comments to info@sbp-cert.org by the close of business on Friday, 16 July 2021.

SBP Publishes Updated Regional Risk Assessment for Lithuania

SBP has published the updated Regional Risk Assessment (RRA) for Lithuania. RRAs are a key part of SBP’s focus on identifying and mitigating any risks associated with sourcing feedstock for woody biomass pellet and chip production.

In accordance with the SBP RRA Procedure, SBP-endorsed RRAs remain valid for a period of five years from the approval date. The RRA for Lithuania was first published on 15 June 2016 and consequently its validity expired on 14 June 2021.

The Standards Development Process currently underway is reviewing each of the SBP Standards. Standard 1 is the foundation of the SBP RRAs and any revisions to that Standard will trigger the need to update all existing SBP-endorsed RRAs.

Following publication of the revised Standards, scheduled for the end of 2021, there will be a transition period allowing time for Certificate Holders to comply with the revised requirements. From the end of that transition period it will be mandatory for all Certificate Holders to comply with the revised requirements. The RRAs will require updating in line with the revised Standards and that will be undertaken in a timely fashion within the same transition period, such that complying with the requirements of the updated RRAs will also be mandatory from the end of the transition period.

In the light of the Standards Development Process it was proposed to extend the validity of the RRA for Lithuania to coincide with the end of the transition period for the revised SBP Standards (v2.0). SBP consulted Preferred by Nature (formerly NEPCon), the Working Body responsible for developing the original RRA for Lithuania, on the proposal to extend its validity. On the basis that there have been no major changes in relevant legislation and/or forestry practices, and that there is no additional information to suggest otherwise, Preferred by Nature has recommended that no changes are made to the risk designations of the original RRA. It was, therefore, proposed to extend the validity of the RRA without further revision.

In early 2021, SBP sought stakeholder feedback on the proposal. Extension of the validity was subsequently recommended by the SBP Technical Committee and formally approved by the SBP Chief Executive Officer. A response to consultation has been published alongside the updated RRA; both documents may be viewed at: https://sbp-cert.org/documents/standards-documents/risk-assessments/lithuania/.

SBP Launches Public Consultation on Revision Draft v1 of Standards 1 and 2

The Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP) has today launched its public consultation on Revision Draft v1 of Standards 1 and 2.

Our Standards Development Process is designed to facilitate an open, inclusive and constructive sharing of views amongst our stakeholder community. This first public consultation on Revision Draft v1 of Standards 1 and 2 follows the public consultation on Standard 3 to 6 and is the outcome of many hours of stakeholder participation.

An Explanatory Note accompanies each of the Standards providing background and details on the proposed revisions to the Standard, including adaptations of the requirements and their structure, as well as raising some specific questions. Please read the Explanatory Notes before providing feedback.

In this public consultation, SBP is seeking stakeholder feedback on the Revision Draft v1 of:

• Standard 1: Feedstock Compliance
• Standard 2: Feedstock Verification

Stakeholders are invited to provide feedback on the Standards as a whole or to limit their comments to specific sections.

All documents are available via the Feedback Platform, please use the platform to provide your feedback and comments. The consultation closes on Monday, 2 August 2021.

SBP Directorate Changes

SBP has today announced the appointment of Annawati (Anna) van Paddenburg as a Board Director representing civil society. Anna replaces Professor Kathy Willis who stood down from the Board at the end of 2020.

Anna is a green growth professional with almost two decades of international experience integrating the value of nature in economic and financial decisions. Her work with various international NGOs and the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) has covered projects in the Asia-Pacific, Africa and Latin America regions.

Anna has a long track record in working with governments, business and communities to design investment and policy solutions which shape resilient and sustainable landscapes, where biodiversity is valued and climate risks are managed. She holds several advisory roles in support of boards, committees and expert coalitions, including the Predator Free Hauraki Coromandel Community Trust, The International Advisory Council on Global Bioeconomy, and the Natural Capital Working Group at the Green Growth Knowledge Platform.

Commenting on Anna’s appointment, Francis Sullivan, SBP’s independent Chair, said, “I am delighted to welcome Anna to the Board of SBP. Anna brings with her a wealth of experience of the critical issues SBP is currently discussing, specifically natural capital and biodiversity conservation. And as the trade of sustainable woody biomass is becoming increasingly global, we will also value her Asia-Pacific experience.

“As a multi-stakeholder organisation, we need and welcome the knowledge and experience of environmental and social specialists as well as those from commerce”.

Martin Porter, Vice-Chair of SBP, commented, “I am very much looking forward to working with Anna, whose breadth of knowledge and experience of working with international sustainability and biodiversity-focused NGOs and multi-stakeholder platforms will bring an important dimension to the work of the Board”.

Commenting on her appointment, Anna van Paddenburg said, “I am excited to join the SBP Board. The biomass debate continues to attract the interest of a wide range of stakeholders and I believe it is essential for the Board, the highest level of oversight of the organisation, to listen to thoughts and solutions shared by civil society groups. These are critical years for action on biodiversity and climate. From within the Board, I will encourage SBP to go beyond compliance and deliver tangible green growth outcomes”.

SBP-endorsed Regional Risk Assessment for the Province of Quebec, Canada Published

SBP has today published the SBP-endorsed Regional Risk Assessment (RRA) for the Province of Quebec, Canada. The publication of the RRA follows a period of public consultation and internal review by SBP, including an approval recommendation from SBP’s Technical Committee. SBP has also published a response to consultation, which summarises comments received from stakeholders.

SBP-endorsed RRAs are a key part of SBP’s focus on identifying and mitigating risks associated with sustainably sourcing feedstock for biomass pellet and woodchip production. RRAs evaluate an entire geographic region and determine the risks associated with sourcing feedstock for biomass pellet or woodchip production from that region. Thus, the need for individual Biomass Producers to conduct risk assessments is avoided and, therefore, consistency between Biomass Producers’ risk assessments is guaranteed. The SBP RRA Procedure also ensures active engagement with a diverse range of stakeholders in the region.

The SBP-endorsed Regional Risk Assessment for the Province of Quebec, Canada and the SBP response to consultation can be found at: https://sbp-cert.org/documents/standards-documents/risk-assessments/quebec/

SBP Annual Review 2020 Published

The Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP) has today published its 2020 annual review. The review is available at: www.sbp-cert.org/documents/annual-reviews.

Carsten Huljus, SBP Chief Executive Officer, commented: “In a year that was characterised by the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to adapt to a new normal and negotiate our way through worldwide lockdowns re-thinking our approach to our assurance operations to maintain confidence in the SBP claim, the meeting arrangements of our governing bodies and the significant task of reviewing our Standards.

“Despite the challenging times, I am pleased to report that we continued to see growth in our Certificate Holder base during 2020, an increase of almost 50% on 2019 numbers, and we extended our geographic reach to 31 countries, up six on 2019. The volume of SBP-certified biomass in the market place reached a record high at 14.95 million tonnes, with every tonne produced and sold carrying the promise of good biomass.

“On the theme of data, new to the review is an analysis of the feedstock data we collect from our Biomass Producers. For 2020, the breakdown of feedstock by type and origin reveals that the vast majority of feedstock used in biomass production came from the stems of trees that were non-merchantable as saw timber, tops and branches, and processing residues.

“We made solid progress in what was the first year of our three-year work plan to deliver our strategy, including our three key priorities for the year of standards development, monitoring and evaluation, and digitalisation.

“Our Standards Development Process was launched in May 2020, and by the end of the year some 1,500 hours of stakeholder participation had been chalked up through the various Working Group and Sub-group meetings. In support of the Process a series of workshops, attracting over 650 participants in total, was held to explore the key issues in detail. The Process continues and is scheduled to conclude with the publication of a set of revised Standards at the end of this year.

“During 2020, we took the first steps to evolve our existing key impacts that we report against into a more sophisticated monitoring and evaluation system commensurate with the certification scheme that we have become. And our new audit management platform – the Audit Portal – was launched in October 2020, representing a significant leap in realising best practice across our operations. Through digitalising the routine aspects of certification, in terms of reporting requirements and processes, data entry and collection is much simpler and more robust.

“We have come out of 2020 stronger than we were before, taking ourselves to the next level as we explored different ways of functioning under the restrictions and constraints that were placed on all businesses.”

SBP Launches Public Consultation on Revision Draft v1 of Standards 3 to 6

The Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP) has today launched its public consultation on Revision Draft v1 of Standards 3 to 6.

Our Standards Development Process is designed to facilitate an open, inclusive and constructive sharing of views amongst our stakeholder community. This first public consultation on Revision Draft v1 of Standards 3 to 6 marks a significant milestone in our Standards Development Process and is the outcome of many hours of stakeholder participation.

An Explanatory Note gives an overview of the Standards Development Process, its decision-making and the proposed revisions to the Standards. It is suggested that stakeholders read the note before providing feedback.

In this public consultation, SBP is seeking stakeholder feedback on the Revision Draft v1 of:

  • Standard 3: Requirements for Certification Bodies
  • Standard 4: Chain of Custody
  • Standard 5: Collection and Communication of Data
  • Standard 6: Energy and Carbon Balance

Stakeholders are invited to provide feedback on the Standards as a whole or to limit their comments to specific sections. The opportunity is also provided for stakeholders to comment on the Explanatory Note and on whether Revision Draft v1 of Standards 3 to 6 meets the Standards Development Process Terms of Reference.

All feedback must be submitted via the Feedback Platform, which is open until Friday, 30 April 2021.

Standards 1 and 2 are not included in this public consultation. Revision drafts of both Standards are currently being developed for public consultation in early June 2021.