Technology Innovations in Sustainability Standards
From the ISEAL 2015 conference, session on Technology Innovations: Until recently, audits were one of the few sets of "eyes on the ground", but now technology is producing a wave of opportunities for standards to have a window into the social and environmental conditions at both a small and large scale. How are solutions like GIS mapping, mobile technology, satellite imagery, and social media influencing how standards operate and helping to ensure that interventions are successful? How is technology allowing more of a two-way conversation with producers and allowing standard-setters to give new benefits back to their certification clients? Speakers from: Rainforest Alliance, Accreditation Services International, World Resources Institute, and 2Degrees Network.
The presentations can be viewed by clicking on the hyperlinked organisation names up here.
The mainline of the presentations was on (meta)data exchange. Sönke Fischer of ASI argued for seamless information exchange between actors, leading to an Integrated Assurance Approach. Present challenges are that information flows are not in real time, that different systems capture data differently and thus data analysis is hampered.
Rainforest Alliance’s Anna Paula Tavares reported progress in spatial data validation. RA’s priority is with information management for the producers: ”groups themselves should manage progress and compliance”.
Oliver Hurrey of 2Degrees Network promotes the visualization of data, and shows his network’s Global Collaboration Maps. Also he believes in data sharing: “there is so many best kept secrets”.
Sarah Lake of World Resources Institute acknowledged the tendency of data visualization and data sharing. In addition to the maps of the site of Global Forest Watch, The Institutes actively promotes open data sharing by making their own data sets available on data.globalforestwatch.org.
Focusing on the remark of Anna Paula Tavares that Rainforest Alliance has its priority with information management for the producers: "groups themselves should manage progress and compliance".
It seems that the Rainforest Alliance approach is not common amongst sustainability initiatives:
From a recent note of a standard owner: "Independent third party verification is the most essential element of ensuring compliance and continuous improvements of connected companies regarding the sustainability criteria of the standard. This is especially important to ensure the credibility of sustainability claims." Others have concerns that producers often not capture data, or at least not in a way that is consistent and with a high level of quality.
Where do you think the focus of data collection and management should be in safeguarding the integrity of certification? With the producers/operators or with the certifiers?
June 29, 2015 11:45