With growing social and environmental concerns, a number of national and international initiatives have been created with the objectives to address these concerns. In order to encourage responsible businesses and positive social and environmental change, many initiatives have started accreditations and set up standards for compliance.There is a rapid increase in the number of voluntary standards, labels and logos. Since these standards and compliances are voluntary, the organisations setting them need to ensure that they are setting credible standards.
This is where ISEAL plays and important role. ISEAL (The International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling Alliance) is “an international non-profit organisation that codifies best practice for the design and implementation of social and environmental standards initiatives”. ISEAL has created an international system of reference for setting social and environmental standards. The belief is that the credibility of social and environmental standards can be strengthened by the way the standards are set. ISEAL members are committed to improving the way they set their standards by complying with the Code of Good Practice for Setting Social and Environmental Standards developed by ISEAL.
Who are the members of the ISEAL Alliance?
ISEAL members are are organisations that fulfilling good practices in international standard setting or international accreditation and are committed to the ISEAL Alliance Code of Ethics. Currently, the full members of ISEAL Alliance are:
- Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International
- Forest Stewardship Council
- International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements
- Marine Aquarium Council
- Marine Stewardship Council
- Rainforest Alliance
- Social Accountability International
ISEAL also has associate members – these are organisations that are in the process of meeting requirements for good practice in international standard setting or international accreditation and are committed to the ISEAL Code of Ethics. The associate members of the ISEAL Alliance are Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) and Centre for Resource Solutions.
The affiliate members of ISEAL are those that subscribe to the ISEAL Code of Ethics and participate in ISEAL mainly to share information and raise awareness. These are Chemonics International, Global Ecolabelling Network, Pacific Institute, OneWorldStandards and Agro Eco.
What does ISEAL do?
Broadly, the working functions of ISEAL can be described as:
- Providing Credibility Tools to its members: ISEAL has created the Code of Good Practice for Setting Social and Environmental Standards in order to ensure that the standards set by its members are credible. This code is an international document that sets best practice in this field. ISEAL members must adhere to this code and undertake reviews and internal assessments of their compliance to this Code.
For best practices in accreditation, ISEAL members must comply with ISO/IEC 17011:2004. ISEAL provides guidance and support to members on external reviews of these norms and implementation of practices.
- ISEAL is also committed to the measurement of the impact of standards and certifications. ISEAL has recently conducted workshops (November 2007) with an aim to share knowledge on good practices and how to address issues of measurement of the impact such practices.
- ISEAL is also concentrating on improving the access to certification programmes. Small producers especially in developing countries are finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with regulatory requirements for international trade. One of the major hurdles faced by small producers is that they lack the knowledge, resources and infrastructure to obtain certifications that will expand their market reach. ISEAL is attempting to address this problem by launching initiatives such as its Accessibility Network and is also creating a Certification Information Centre.
- Building capacity for Members and emerging iniatives: Many ISEAL members members face a number of common issues and priorities. ISEAL provides its members with a broad knowledge base allowing them to share their experience for mutual benefit. This in turn allows ISEAL members to improve their own systems and reduce overlap. One of the key objectives of ISEAL is to guide and assist emerging initiatives in the field of social and environmental standard setting and accreditation. ISEAL's Emerging Initiatives Program aims to provide support to emerging initiatives and is currently working with The Climate Group, the Sustainable Tourism Stewardship Council and the Carbon Trust among others, to ensure that they create meaningful schemes and labels that will make an impact.
- Policy and Advocacy: ISEAL monitors society, governmental trade and regulations and industries to give its members timely information on developments that impact them. ISEAL also participates in relevant international initiatives to discuss and present papers on behalf of its members.
About the ISEAL Code of Good Practice
The ISEAL Code of Good Practice can be viewed at
Code of Good Practice
The Code of Good Practice is formally reviewed every three years and ISEAL encourages comments on the Code through its website. The next review is scheduled for 2008. The Code is accompanied by a guidance document and is gaining increasing recognition as an international norm for good social and environmental standard setting by non-members as well. It is being referenced by governmental and international organisations as a credible measure of credible voluntary standards.
- ISEAL Alliance
- For more information on the Accessibility Network see Accessibilty Network
- For information regarding ISEAL’s Certification Information Center, see Certification Information Centre