What’s new in v2.0
The revised Standards take our certification scheme to the next level. The key additions and improvements introduced in the revised Standards (v2) are summarised below.
The revised Standards have been streamlined to aid consistent implementation, the wording simplified to aid clarity, and the content stripped of extraneous information that now forms supporting guidance. To clearly communicate intent, the focus of Standard 1 is now on outputs rather than process, and the emphasis is on driving improvement rather than mitigating negative impacts.
We have strengthened the environmental requirements with the addition of the need to identify threats to ecosystems, and to maintain or enhance key species, habitats, ecosystems and areas of high conservation value. No-go areas of land that cannot be changed or converted have been clarified as forest, wetland, peat land and highly biodiverse grassland. Forested land must be regenerated. And agrochemicals that are harmful to people and the environment have been banned.
The Standard has improved significantly with new and enhanced social requirements. Fighting discrimination through strengthening the protection of workers and their rights in terms of, amongst other things, remuneration, working hours, training and termination. Certificate Holders’ responsibilities towards their local communities are recognised, with the requirement to identify and avoid negative impacts. Requirements have been added to protect those areas from which communities access their basic needs and to protect cultural heritage sites. And the rights of Indigenous Peoples are protected through the requirement for FPIC.
Standards 3 and 4
SBP is now an established certification scheme and in keeping with that standing our revised Standards are much less reliant on other schemes, bringing with it the benefit of being able to manage and control our own destiny and to address the specifics of a sourcing scheme and the biomass supply chain. This is manifested through increased relevance of the requirements for Certification Bodies and the introduction of SBP’s own Chain of Custody system.
Accordingly, in Standard 3 we have strengthened the requirements around auditor competence and clarified the competences for peer reviewers. Minor and major non-conformity definitions have been captured and aligned with best practice. And clear rules have been introduced on the checks necessary during annual surveillance audits, as well as clearer timelines for Certification Body actions, and greater clarity on audit planning, sampling and calculating level of effort.
In Standard 4 requirements on management systems and internal audits, record keeping, stakeholder consultations, health and safety, and anti-corruption have been added. We have also introduced the mass balance system, replacing the previous credit system.
Beyond regulatory compliance
Making sure our Standards comply with the regulatory requirements of the biomass end use markets where our Certificate Holders do business is a pre-requisite. Our ambition when revising the Standards was to go beyond regulatory compliance where there was consensus to do. That has been achieved in many areas of Standard 1. Indicators in the areas of biodiversity, land conversion, forest carbon stock, cascading use, training, grievance handling and free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) are all beyond regulatory compliance.
The management of forest carbon has been introduced as a new principle. Land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) emissions requirements have been added. Driving the positive impact of sourcing feedstock for biomass production, forest carbon must be stable or increasing. No primary feedstock harvesting is allowed in low productivity or difficult to regenerate areas, nor in areas combining high conservation values and high carbon stocks. And the cascading use principle has been introduced, prohibiting the use of high quality stemwood if in substantial demand for long-lived products in the supply base.
Identifying and managing sourcing risks
The process to identify and manage sourcing risks had benefited from a major overhaul, which as well as assisting with the Supply Base Evaluation also extends to SBP’s second risk management tool, the Regional Risk Assessment. Greater clarity in how to develop, implement and manage risk assessments will improve consistency in the implementation of the Standards, reducing the risk of misinterpretation and dependency on external assistance. As will the introduction of more objective requirements for auditors when evaluating compliance.
A new concept of benchmarked and recognised schemes is introduced, acknowledging the synergies with existing forest management certification schemes to adequately manage risks in the Supply Base. Other improvements include how to deal with contradictions with local legislation, the protection of confidential information and the need for stakeholder consultation not only before the initial risk assessment but regularly thereafter.
Standards 5 and 6
Data collection and communication is one of our key strengths and we have ensured that our revised Standards live up to expectations. A significant update brings Standard 5 into line with our digital platforms and reporting introduced over recent years. The requirements around identifying volumes of biomass and communication of data have been significantly improved. And a new requirement makes communication of dynamic data mandatory for all, not just those selling into the Dutch market.
Standard 6 is now solely focused on the calculation of greenhouse gas emissions. Certificate Holders along the supply chain can use the data collected and communicated to calculate their energy and carbon balances, including greenhouse gas savings of biomass supply chains.