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ISEAL Impacts June 2010

Paddy Doherty

Dear Mike,

After 21 months of effort, we have an approved Impacts Code! At an ISEAL Board meeting on June 25th, with only a few minor amendments, the ISEAL Board of Directors approved Version 1 of the ISEAL “Code of Good Practice for Assessing the Impact of Social and Environmental Standards Systems”. The Impacts Code comes into effect immediately and ISEAL members are required to be implementing the Code by the end of 2011. ISEAL plans for an official public launch later this year.

I’d like to thank all those who helped develop this new ISEAL Code. I’ll be working with the ISEAL members over the rest of 2010 to help them implement the Impacts Code. I like this work and I’m looking forward to doing more of it.

Yours sincerely,

Paddy Doherty
ISEAL Impacts Manager

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ISEAL Conference Research Stream

Impacts featured prominently at the ISEAL Conference Jun 22-24 in London. The public ‘research stream’ sessions were well attended and included lively and provoking discussion. There were presentations from:

  • Sietze Vellema from Wageningen University, titled “Measuring Impacts - About lean approaches, mechanisms, and critical control points”. Sietze described his work to use FSC public summaries of audit reports (list of Corrective Action Requests) to answer certain questions: (i) velocity of change, (ii) the direction of change, (iii) the scale and scope of change, (iv) the capacity of firms or communities to act upon the envisioned change in certification schemes. (Presentation)
  • Jason Donovan of CATIE (Centro Agronómico Tropical de Investigación y Enseñanza) titled “Assessing the poverty impacts of certification systems: An asset building approach”. Jason described CATIE’s work with partner organisations to assess the impacts of different standards systems on households by examining changes in their assets. (Presentation)
  • Daniele Giovannucci of COSA (Committee on Sustainability Assessment), titled “A global consortium of institutions applying innovative metrics to understand sustainability in practice” described the work of COSA with some examples of preliminary results. (Presentation)

The research stream included a session titled “Defining the Research Agenda” where we discussed the future role of ISEAL in linking the research community with social and environmental standards systems. The interest from participants included learning, exchanging, finding a common agenda, and finding a balance between practical and overly-academic research strategies. Participants agreed that ISEAL could provide a forum for interaction between researchers and standards systems but it would be up to the users to populate the forum.


ISEAL Conference Impacts Sessions

The conference also included sessions for members and affiliates designed to answer questions and provide advice about implementation of the Impacts Code. Not surprisingly, the first question was, “We now have one year to come into compliance with the Impacts Code—what does this mean?”

The answer is that compliance at a minimum means that an ISEAL member standards system must be actively engaged in following the requirements of the Impacts Code (developing a monitoring and evaluation programme, describing their intended impacts, etc).  We recognise that standards systems, for the most part, will only be starting to collect data from their M&E programme and will not yet be able to show results.  For most standards systems, impact assessments are not expected immediately, but should be planned for over time. In short, standards systems are expected to show M&E activity every year and impact assessment periodically.  ISEAL will be developing clear guidance for members on what is expected by when for implementation of the Impacts Code.


Next Steps

This is the final Impacts Newsletter. I’d like to take this opportunity to publicly thank the Impacts Code Committee Members for their expert assistance and perseverance:

Impacts Code Steering Committee

  • Daniele Giovannucci - Committee on Sustainability Assessment (COSA)
  • Deanna Newsom - Rainforest Alliance
  • Alan Knight - AccountAbility
  • Chris Grieve – Marine Stewardship Council
  • Christof Walter - Unilever
  • Sanjeev Khagram & David Bonbright - iScale/Keystone
  • Hal Hamilton – Sustainable Food Lab
  • Britta Wyss – UTZ Certified
  • Steve Homer – Bios Partners
  • Rob van Hout – Fairtrade Labelling Organisation
  • Eileen Kaufman – Social Accountability International

Issues Committee

  • Chris Wunderlich/Jason Potts – UNCTAD/IISD
  • Bill Vorley – International Institute for Environment and Development
  • Deanna Newsom - Rainforest Alliance
  • Chris Grieve - Marine Stewardship Council
  • Don Seville – Sustainable Food Lab
  • Francisco Bustamante – UTZ Certified
  • David McLaughlin - WWF
  • Catrina Lucero - iScale
  • Eileen Kaufman – Social Accountability International

Methodologies Committee

  • Chris Grieve - Marine Stewardship Council
  • Marion Karmann – Forest Stewardship Council
  • Jason Donovan/Dieter Stoian - CATIE
  • Tessa Laan – UTZ Certified
  • Natalia Kiryttopoulou – Keystone Accountability
  • Catherine Vogel - GTZ
  • David Mainenti – Marine Aquarium Council
  • Aimee Russillo – Liseed Consulting
  • Eileen Kaufman – Social Accountability International

Other persons helped with the consultation—there were over 500 separate comments during the last consultation. I’d like to thank all those who helped improve this new ISEAL Code.


ISEAL Impacts
Issue 07
July 2010

Monthly Newsletter on the Development of the ISEAL Impacts Code
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