Better than Before: SBP Launches Revised Standards

SBP has today launched its revised sourcing Standards for woody biomass. The revised Standards underpin the SBP promise of good biomass. They require that SBP-certified biomass is deforestation-free, that biodiversity is maintained or enhanced through protecting key species, habitats and ecosystems, that water quality and soil quality are maintained or enhanced, that carbon stocks are stable or increasing, and that workers and their rights, local communities, and the rights of Indigenous Peoples are protected.

In addition, the EU REDII requirements will be mandatory for all Certificate Holders certified against the revised Standards.

Carsten Huljus, Chief Executive Officer, commented: “Reviewing and revising our Standards has been another milestone in the development of SBP.

“At the outset our goal was to achieve multi-stakeholder consensus on how to improve and advance our certification scheme, whilst maintaining relevance and effectiveness, and importantly, ensuring future fitness.

“We have achieved that with a set of Standards that are better than before, and we are now focused on their successful roll-out.

“My sincere thanks to all who contributed along the way”.

The Standards Development Process

The launch of the revised Standards marks the culmination of the Standards Development Process that we and our stakeholders formally embarked upon in 2020, five years since our Standards were first published.

Continuous improvement and relevance are central to our thinking and a key aspect of the review and revision process was to fully consider, amongst other things, changes in market regulations, advances in best practice, and increased knowledge of key issues, including forest carbon, biodiversity and social impact.

The Process encouraged full stakeholder participation, with comprehensive Working Group arrangements to delve into the detail and make recommendations to improve and advance the requirements for legal and sustainable sourcing of feedstock for biomass production.

The full suite of six Standards was subject to three public consultations, and pilot testing in key producer regions across a representative sample of small and large producers of pellets and chips.

Our Technical Committee and Standards Committee conscientiously oversaw the Process, scrutinising the recommendations throughout. Ultimately, in March 2023, following approval by the Standards Committee our Board endorsed the revisions.

Key improvements

Our revised Standards have been improved and advanced in a number of areas, including:

  • Structural, streamlining our requirements to aid implementation and clarity, with a focus on outputs.
  • Beyond regulatory compliance, through indicators in the areas of biodiversity, land conversion, forest carbon stock, cascading use, training, grievance handling and free, prior and informed consent (FPIC).
  • Environmental, strengthened requirements to identify threats to ecosystems, and to maintain or enhance key species, habitats, ecosystems and areas of high conservation value; clarifying those no-go areas of land that cannot be changed or converted; regeneration of forested land; and banning of harmful agrochemicals.
  • Forest carbon, a new principle, including land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) emissions requirements; driving positive impact through the requirement for forest carbon to be stable or increasing; no harvesting in low productivity or difficult to regenerate areas, nor in areas combining high conservation values and high carbon stocks; and the introduction of the cascading use principle.
  • Social, new and enhanced social requirements fighting discrimination through strengthening the protection of workers and their rights; and requirements to identify and avoid negative impacts in local communities, protect cultural heritage sites and the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  • Identifying and managing sourcing risks, a major overhaul delivering greater clarity in how to develop, implement and manage risk assessments, and the introduction of more objective requirements for auditors when evaluating compliance; a new concept of benchmarked and recognised schemes to manage risks in the Supply Base; and the need for requirement for stakeholder consultation.
  • SBP-specific, increased relevance of the requirements for Certification Bodies and the introduction of our own Chain of Custody system; strengthened requirements around auditor competence; minor and major non-conformity definitions aligned with best practice; and clear rules on, amongst other things, annual surveillance audits, audit timelines, management systems and internal audits, record keeping, stakeholder consultations, health and safety, and anti-corruption.
  • Data focused, significant improvements to the requirements around identifying volumes of biomass and communication of data; and enabling the calculation of greenhouse gas emissions along the supply chain.

A fuller description of the improvements and advancements is available here.

Roll-out of SBP Standards v2.0

All documents come into effect on 10 August 2023, and  existing Certificate Holders have a period of 15 months from the effective date during which to transition to the revised Standards. The transition period will end on 9 November 2024, at which time SBP Standards v1.0 will be retired.

The normative documents, comprising the six SBP Standards, Glossary of Terms and Definitions, and Instruction Documents are available on our website here. For the first time we have published Guidance Documents to accompany Standards 1, 2 and 4, and they are available on our website here.

SBP-endorsed Regional Risk Assessments (RRAs) are currently being revised, and new RRAs developed, to align with the revised Standards. Keep up-to-date with the status of the revisions and developments here (scroll down).

For more information, please contact:

Melanie Wedgbury (SBP)
T: +44 (0)7734 793279