Global Sustainability Organisations Form Alliance to Share Risk Information

A group of organisations, including the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Preferred by Nature, the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB), and the Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP), are joining forces as the Risk Information Alliance (RIA).

Increasing regulatory requirements such as the EU Regulation on Deforestation-free Products (EUDR) and market pressure for responsibly produced products are posing a serious challenge to businesses, certification schemes and producers in agricultural and forest-based sectors. The RIA will develop and maintain credible risk assessments with a range of partners and across commodities offering value beyond the EUDR. Through an innovative and collaborative approach, the Alliance will encourage risk data sharing in a pre-competitive sphere and cut through the complex and costly landscape facing companies and sustainability systems.

“Historically, businesses, certification schemes and other stakeholders have worked in isolation to evaluate risks. Without coordination, it is easy to imagine how they may come to different conclusions for the same indicators, wasting time, resources, and potential impact,” said David Hadley, Regulatory Impact Programme Director at Preferred by Nature.

“This alliance will create a common language, making sure that businesses, authorities and stakeholders in forestry and agriculture are working effectively towards the same goal. The more organisations that contribute, the greater the impact will be,” said Kim Carstensen, FSC Director General.

The RIA benefits from the award of a grant under the ISEAL Innovations Fund, which receives generous support from principal donor, the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). The ISEAL Innovations Fund supports ISEAL members to join forces in exploring new, ambitious solutions to key sustainability challenges. The grant has been awarded to SBP and Preferred by Nature and covers the two years to the end of 2025. It is matched in-kind by SBP and Preferred by Nature.

“This funding will play a pivotal role in gathering and sharing high quality risk data. We are excited to be working with Preferred by Nature and other organisations to bring about positive change,“ said Carsten Huljus, CEO of the Sustainable Biomass Program.

With a steering group in place to coordinate the initial development of the Alliance, it is intended to quickly extend the invitation to other organisations and over time attract a much broader circle of stakeholders.

“RSB supports the call for collaboration in navigating the challenges of increasing regulatory requirements and market pressure for responsibly produced products. Taking a risk-based approach is deeply embedded in our theory and practice, so we are encouraged by the formation of the RIA. We are proud to join this coalition of organisations to share risk information, and together, advance the transition to a bio-based and circular economy,” said Elena Schmidt, RSB Executive Director.

RIA encourages stakeholders and potential members and donors to connect for further information.

Members of the Risk Information Alliance (RIA)

Forest Stewardship Council™ (FSC®)
FSC is a non-profit organization that provides a proven sustainable forest management solution. Currently, over 160 million hectares of forest worldwide is certified according to FSC standards. It is widely regarded as the most rigorous forest certification system among NGOs, consumers, and businesses alike to tackle today’s deforestation, climate, and biodiversity challenges. The FSC forest management standard is based on ten core principles designed to address a broad range of environmental, social and economic factors. FSC’s “check tree” label is found on millions of forest-based products and verifies that they are sustainably sourced, from forest to consumer. www.fsc.org.

Preferred by Nature
Preferred by Nature is a non-profit organisation working to support better land management and business practices that benefit people, nature and climate in 100+ countries. www.preferredbynature.org

Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB)
The Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB) is a global membership organisation that drives the sustainable transition to a bio-based and circular economy. RSB’s sustainability framework has been developed by its multi-stakeholder membership, and is a uniquely robust and credible foundation for supporting innovative solutions to the climate crisis. RSB uses this foundation to develop projects, new knowledge and solutions that equip key decision-makers to deliver positive impacts for people and the planet. https://rsb.org/

Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP)
SBP is an independent, multi-stakeholder certification scheme initially designed for biomass used in large-scale energy production. We have achieved international recognition as a solution for Biomass Producers, Traders and End-users to demonstrate responsible sourcing practice. As a sourcing standard, we focus on the legality and sustainability aspects and attributes of feedstock used in biomass production. Our unique Data Transfer System tracks woody biomass transactions along the supply chain, collecting and collating data to enable life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions calculations to be made. https://sbp-cert.org/

SBP Welcomes First Certification under SBP Standards v2.0

SBP has today welcomed news of the first Biomass Producer to be certified under the revised SBP Standards (v2.0).

Danish-based, DSHwood A/S, is a dedicated wood trading company dealing in woody feedstock from the region of Puglia in Italy, and managing the supply chain from harvest to End-user. The certificate has been issued by Preferred by Nature.

Carsten Huljus, SBP CEO, commented, “We welcome the news of DSHwood A/S’s certification under our revised Standards (v2.0). With our current focus very much on the implementation of v2.0, we are encouraged by the progress being made by Certification Bodies and Certificate Holders alike”.

Rasmus Grønborg Bak, DSHwood CEO, commented, “We are pleased to receive the SBP certificate (v2.0). The SBP certificate provides transparency through complex verification and audits. Good certified biomass is our licence to operate today and in the future”.

Following a comprehensive review and revision process, the revised SBP Standards (v2.0) became effective in August 2023. 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.

Our revised Standards also mandate compliance with the EU REDII requirements. Certificate Holders have until November 2025 to transition to the revised requirements.

SBP Public Consultation on the Revised Regional Risk Assessments for Estonia and Lithuania

The Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP) has today launched public consultations on the revised Regional Risk Assessments (RRAs) for Estonia and Lithuania.

As a result of the Standards Development Process launched in May 2020, both SBP Standards 1 and 2 were revised, thus triggering the review of all existing SBP-endorsed RRAs. Indufor Oy was appointed as the Working Body responsible for reviewing and revising the existing SBP-endorsed RRAs for Estonia and Lithuania.

Both revised RRAs have already been subject to a public consultation held by the Working Body. This SBP public consultation is the second and final round of consultation and all stakeholders are invited to comment.

All documents are available via the Feedback Platform for the respective RRAs, as follows:

  • For the revised RRA for Estonia, please use the Feedback Platform to provide your comments.
  • For the revised RRA for Lithuania, please use the Feedback Platform to provide your comments.

Both consultations close on Monday, 18 March 2024.

Regional Risk Assessments (RRAs) are a key part of SBP’s focus on identifying and managing risks associated with sustainably sourcing feedstock for biomass production. With an RRA covering an entire geographic region, and determining the risks associated with sourcing feedstock from that region, the need for individual Biomass Producers to conduct risk assessments is avoided, leading to an efficient and consistent risk assessment process. RRAs also ensure active engagement with a diverse range of stakeholders in the region.

SBP Public Consultation on the Revised Regional Risk Assessments for Denmark and Latvia

The Sustainable Biomass Program (SBP) has today launched public consultations on the revised Regional Risk Assessments (RRAs) for Denmark and Latvia.

As a result of the Standards Development Process launched in May 2020, both SBP Standards 1 and 2 were revised, thus triggering the review of all existing SBP-endorsed RRAs. Indufor Oy was appointed as the Working Body responsible for reviewing and revising the existing SBP-endorsed RRAs for Denmark and Latvia.

Both revised RRAs have already been subject to a public consultation held by the Working Body. This SBP public consultation is the second and final round of consultation and all stakeholders are invited to comment.

All documents are available via the Feedback Platform for the respective RRAs, as follows:

  • For the revised RRA for Denmark, please use the Feedback Platform to provide your comments.
  • For the revised RRA for Latvia, please use the Feedback Platform to provide your comments.

Both consultations close on Thursday, 8 March 2024.

RRAs are a key part of SBP’s focus on identifying and managing risks associated with sustainably sourcing feedstock for biomass production. With an RRA covering an entire geographic region, and determining the risks associated with sourcing feedstock from that region, the need for individual Biomass Producers to conduct risk assessments is avoided, leading to an efficient and consistent risk assessment process. RRAs also ensure active engagement with a diverse range of stakeholders in the region.

Meeting the Requirements of EU REDII

SBP has today published v1.1 of Instruction Document REDII: Bridging Requirements for Meeting REDII and supporting documents, and launched a recorded webinar to provide guidance and assistance to Certificate Holders and Certification Bodies when implementing the requirements.

In December 2023, the European Commission confirmed that, following assessment, the SBP certification scheme was found to meet the existing standards in force on reliability, transparency and independent auditing (for demonstrating compliance with Articles 29(2-7) and 29(10) of Directive (EU) 2018/2001(REDII)), taking into consideration the rules set out in Implementing Regulation 2022/996 and Implementing Regulation 2022/2448.

Instruction Document REDII, v1.1 is applicable to both v1.0 and v2.0 of the SBP Standards. Note that to produce REDII-compliant biomass, Biomass Producers must comply with the relevant SBP Standards and Instruction Document REDII: Bridging Requirements for Meeting REDII. Compliance with REDII requirements is mandatory for all Certificate Holders certified against the SBP Standards v2.0.

The suite of REDII-related documents published today is as follows:

  • Instruction Document REDII: Bridging Requirements for Meeting REDII, specifying the bridging requirements between the normative SBP Standards and REDII
  • Instruction Document REDII: Scheme principles for management of REDII scheme, specifying the SBP certification scheme principles and internal management system for REDII
  • Instruction Document 6D: Methodology for the calculation and certification of GHG emissions savings for REDII, mandatory for Certificate Holders that are required to perform greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions savings calculations in accordance with REDII, other wise optional
  • Audit Checklist for REDII scheme, checklist to be used by Certification Bodies when evaluating compliance with REDII requirements

If you have any questions about EU REDII compliance, please contact our Assurance Manager, Roman Polyachenko.

Extension to Transition Period for SBP Standards v2.0

The SBP Standards v2.0 became effective on 10 August 2023. Initially, it was envisaged that a period of 15 months would be sufficient for all Certificate Holders to transition from v1.0 to v2.0. In the light of a number of factors, including feedback received from stakeholders, it has been decided to extend the transition period by a further 12 months, to 9 November 2025. At the end of the transition period, SBP Standards v1.0 will be retired and all Certificate Holders must be compliant with SBP Standards v2.0.

The SBP Standards Committee approved the proposal to extend the transition period at its November meeting, after giving full consideration to the following:

  1. the complex nature of the ongoing reviews of the SBP-endorsed Regional Risk Assessments (RRAs), and the development of new RRAs;
  2. delays with approvals by regulatory authorities in key jurisdictions;
  3. the later than anticipated publication of the framework for benchmarking and recognising other certification schemes and, in particular, the evaluations of FSC® and PEFCTM;
  4. the time required for Certification Bodies to update their internal systems in line with v2.0, and for our Accreditation Body, ANAB, to approve those scope extensions; and
  5. the time required for Certificate Holders to update their internal systems, and the need for access to the full set of documents supporting v2.0, specifically those concerned with risk mitigation, for example, RRAs, benchmarking/recognition.

Extending the transition period to 9 November 2025 will give Certificate Holders and Certification Bodies sufficient time to undertake the necessary actions to implement v2.0, while removing the risk of a cliff-edge that would see certificates cancelled due to non-compliance with v2.0.

The extension of the transition period should in no way be seen as an opportunity to delay implementation efforts. SBP encourages its Certificate Holders and Certification Bodies to work towards full implementation of v2.0 as soon as possible, and will continue to support all parties through the transition.

SBP Directorate Change

SBP has today announced the appointment of Mihkel Jugaste as a Board Director representing Biomass Producers.

Mihkel has many years’ experience in the biomass sector and, amongst other things, has a thorough understanding of value chain sustainability and the ESG framework. Since 2016, Mihkel has worked for Graanul Invest and is currently the Chief Sustainability Officer and a Management Board Member. Graanul Invest is one of the biggest pellet producers in Europe and one of the largest independent renewable energy producers in the Baltic Sea region.

For the four years from 2019, Mihkel served as a member of the SBP Standards Committee, bringing a valuable perspective to the work of the Committee through his practical knowledge of the implementation of sustainability standards.

Commenting on Mihkel’s appointment, Francis Sullivan, SBP’s independent Chair, said, “I am delighted to welcome Mihkel to the Board of SBP. Mihkel’s knowledge and experience will be extremely valuable to the Board as we closely monitor the roll-out and implementation of our revised Standards. Our Standards are the backbone of what we do and we are committed to their continuous improvement”.

Commenting on his appointment, Mihkel Jugaste said, “I am looking forward to joining the Board of SBP and to contributing to the work of SBP at a strategic level. SBP has exceeded all expectations and reached the highest sustainability credentials in biomass to energy applications. I am enthusiastic to help the organisation in maintaining this level and supporting the evolution of sustainable biomass”.

Public Consultation on EU REDII Level A Risk Assessment for Article 29(7) LULUCF

SBP has evaluated all EU Members States and several non-EU countries against the land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) criteria of the EU REDII Article 29(7) (a) – the so-called “Level A” risk assessment. The results of the evaluation have been published in the SBP-endorsed REDII Level A risk assessment, which is now open for public consultation.

The SBP-endorsed REDII Level A risk assessment assists Biomass Producers and Certification Bodies in determining compliance with Article 29(7) (a) by concluding whether the country of origin of the feedstock used in biomass production:

i) is a Party to the Paris Agreement;

ii) has submitted a nationally determined contribution (NDC) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), covering emissions and removals from agriculture, forestry and land use which ensures that changes in carbon stock associated with biomass harvest are accounted towards the country’s commitment to reduce or limit greenhouse gas emissions as specified in the NDC; or

iii) national or sub-national laws in place, in accordance with Article 5 of the Paris Agreement, applicable in the area of harvest, to conserve and enhance carbon stocks and sinks, and providing evidence that reported LULUCF-sector emissions do not exceed removals.

Stakeholders are invited to comment on the findings of the SBP-endorsed REDII Level A risk assessment. All comments should be sent to our Assurance Manager, Roman Polyachenko, by Monday, 18 December 2023.

SBP Directorate Change

SBP has today announced the appointment of Alan Knight as a Board Director representing Biomass End-users.

Alan has over 30 years’ experience of working with global companies and governments on sustainability. Since April 2021, Alan has held the position of Group Director of Sustainability at Drax Group, the UK renewable energy provider and global biomass supply business operator. Alan’s appointment, as with all SBP Board appointments, is in a personal capacity.

In previous roles at B&Q and ArcelorMittal, Alan was instrumental in founding and developing the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and ResponsibleSteel, respectively, both global, multistakeholder standard and certification initiatives. These experiences have equipped Alan with a detailed understanding of global sustainability standards and their application.

As well as working for global private companies across a number of sectors directing sustainability initiatives, Alan has worked with leading responsible business network, Business in the Community, overseeing its corporate sustainability programmes, and served as a commissioner of the Sustainable Development Commission, the UK Government’s independent adviser on sustainable development.

Alan’s work on sustainability has been widely recognised and honoured through a number of prestigious awards.

Commenting on Alan’s appointment, Francis Sullivan, SBP’s independent Chair, said, “I am delighted to welcome Alan to the Board of SBP. Alan has a wealth of experience of sustainability issues and a keen understanding of the role of certification in the biomass sector. Alan joins us at an exciting and important time in our development as we pursue our strategy of growth and continual improvement. His experience will be invaluable to the future of SBP”.

Commenting on his appointment, Alan Knight said, “I am delighted to be joining the Board of SBP and look forward to working with my peers to help ensure the highest sustainability standards for woody biomass”.

Call for Proposals: Regional Risk Assessments

SBP is inviting qualified and experienced organisations/individuals to submit proposals for the development of SBP-endorsed Regional Risk Assessments (RRAs) for the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the key biomass producing states of the USA.

RRAs are a key part of SBP’s focus on identifying and mitigating risks associated with sourcing feedstock. There are many benefits to determining the risks associated with sourcing feedstock from an entire region, in terms of consistency across Biomass Producers and Certification Bodies, level of effort and active engagement with a diverse range of stakeholders.

SBP is seeking to collaborate with a reputable partner/s to act as a Working Body/ies in the development of the RRAs and provide valuable insights into the sustainability risks associated with feedstock sourcing and biomass production in these key sourcing areas.

Interested parties are requested to submit their proposals by 30 November 2023. Proposals should be submitted electronically to info@sbp-cert.org. Further details and guidelines on the submission process are available here.