ISEAL announces the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) as new associate members. The two certification programmes, active in agriculture palm oil and farmed fishing respectively, aim to transform production practices in key global commodities through the use of standards.
RSPO and ASC join associate members from the water, tourism and sugarcane sectors as organisations whose systems meet ISEAL's entry level criteria in terms of scope, governance and practices. Associate membership reflects a commitment to credibility and facilitates the transition to full membership, where compliance is demonstrated with ISEAL's internationally recognised Codes of Good Practice in standard-setting and impacts. ISEAL supports associate members through this process to join a distinguished group of full members that includes Forest Stewardship Council, Fairtrade International and Marine Stewardship Council.
Multi-stakeholder roundtables are a relatively new approach to sustainability standards that look to address social and environmental challenges in key global commodities. NGOs such as WWF, along with leading companies, scientific experts, and other key stakeholders have been involved in forging these initiatives to spur industry-wide transformation. Two existing ISEAL members, Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels and Bonsucro, were born out of similar processes.
“As market demand for food, fibre and fuel increases in the coming decades, so will the impact on our planet’s natural resources. Credible standards and certification systems help to meaningfully reduce impact from commodity production and support the transformation of entire sectors, which is an important element of WWF’s conservation strategy,” said Andrew Murphy, WWF’s Acting Market Transformation Initiative Director. “WWF works with leading global certification systems to ensure continuous improvement. Full ISEAL membership is one of WWF’s minimum requirements for certification systems. The endorsement of RSPO and ASC as associate members is an important milestone on the way towards full ISEAL membership.”
Aquaculture Stewardship Council works with aquaculture producers, seafood processors, retail and foodservice companies, scientists and conservation groups to promote and reward responsibly farmed seafood. It manages a certification and labelling programme based on the species-specific standards, which include standards for salmon, tilapia and bivalves. Aquaculture is a challenging sector, and the standards aim to address critical issues relating to natural habitat conservation, fish feed and water quality. To increase its effectiveness, ASC has already worked with ISEAL full member Marine Stewardship Council to coordinate their chain-of-custody systems.
“ASC’s compliance with ISEAL guidelines demonstrates how robust and credible the WWF-coordinated Aquaculture Dialogues have been,” said Jose Villalon, Vice President of Aquaculture at World Wildlife Fund-US and Chairman of the ASC Board. “As the first ISEAL compliant aquaculture standard in the world, the ASC will continue to be a critical tool to feed a growing population while conserving our precious natural resources.”
Welcoming the news, Chris Ninnes, CEO of ASC added, “The associate membership of ISEAL marks the tremendous progress ASC has made towards becoming the world’s leading certification and logo programme for responsible aquaculture. It is a clear recognition of the hard work we have put into building a credible, transparent and effective organisation.”
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, founded in 2004 by WWF, Unilever, and Migros, the Malaysian Palm Oil Association, amongst others, aims to promote the production and use of sustainable palm oil. It brings together actors across the supply chain with NGOs to reach a shared understanding of improved practice. Palm oil is an ingredient found in a wide range of food and consumer goods and global demand is steadily rising, especially in emerging economies. RSPO was created to help ensure that the palm oil production brings local benefits and contributes to poverty alleviation and to address the risks of oil palm expansion being linked to deforestation and climate change.
Secretary General of RSPO, Darrel Webber, commented, “We are very pleased to join the fray of ISEAL as the RSPO continuously seeks to enhance the robustness of our operating philosophy as an international multi-stakeholder initiative dedicated the highest standards of sustainability. We look forward to generating insights and strategies from our alliance with ISEAL in order to be benchmarked against latest innovations and best practices to ultimately achieve our vision of transforming markets to make sustainable palm oil a norm.”
Today approximately 14% of global palm oil production is certified to the RSPO standard, which covers important criteria such as avoiding the conversion of high conservation values and engaging with communities to ensure potential negative impacts are minimised. A number of major brands and retailers such as Carrefour, Walmart, Ferrero and Nestle have committed to 100% sourcing of certified palm oil. "We are happy to recognise a robust standard working to transform a challenging sector through common agreement on improved practices,” said ISEAL's Executive Director Karin Kreider.
With the announcement, ISEAL's membership grows to 19 standards organisations operating in diverse sectors that address critical sustainability issues such as biodiversity conservation, resource use, working conditions and producer livelihoods. As the global association of sustainability standards, ISEAL brings the standards movement together to scale up its collective impact and engage in discussions on credibility and effectiveness.
About Associate Membership in ISEAL
Associate members have strong operational systems in place and meet ISEAL’s entry level criteria, including demonstrating that their scope, governance and practices align with the ISEAL’s mission and values. Organisations must be fully compliant with the Standard-Setting Code within one year of joining ISEAL. Full compliance with the Impacts Code is required within two years of being approved as an associate member. ISEAL supports the transition to full membership by providing guidance on how to achieve compliance with the ISEAL Codes of Good Practice.
To learn about the process for becoming an ISEAL member visit: