The Six ISCC Principles

The ISCC Principles Refer to the Agricultural Production of Biomass

To reduce environmental impacts, use resources more efficiently, and improve the capacity to adapt to, mitigate, and build resilience to climate change, biomass used in food, feed, chemical and energy markets must be produced sustainably. This means that the production of biomass should follow best environmental, social and economic practices. Areas, which are biodiverse or rich in carbon, which serve to protect threatened or vulnerable species, or which are of other ecological or cultural importance, need to be protected and should not be degraded or destroyed for biomass production. ISCC’s goal is to implement exactly that.

While ISCC Principle 1 covers the legal sustainability requirements of the European Commissions recast Renewable Energy Directive (RED II), ISCC Principles 2 – 6 have been developed in our multi-stakeholder dialogue and go beyond legal requirements. Non-conformities with the ISCC Principle 1 make a farm ineligible for ISCC certification. Violations of principles 2-6 can be corrected under certain circumstances. Thus, ISCC certification directly affects the environmental, social and economic performance of farms and plantations that did not meet all ISCC requirements prior to their certification.

ISCC Principle 1 specifies areas which are excluded from any kind of biomass production and areas which can only be used for biomass production if their status does not change or if restrictions are followed. From 1st January 2008 onwards, users of the ISCC certification system are not allowed to change the status of areas with high biodiversity or high carbon stock. They include primary forests and other woodland, highly biodiverse forests and other wooded land, areas designated by law or by the relevant competent authority for nature protection purposes or for the protection of rare, threatened or endangered species or ecosystems, land with high carbon stock and peatland.

ISCC Principle 2 promotes the application of good agricultural practices, covers the areas of soil, air, water and waste, and sets requirements to prevent the contamination, degradation and depletion of the environment due to agricultural and forestry production. The requirements concern the conservation of natural resources and biodiversity, improvement of soil fertility and the application, handling and storage of fertilisers and plant protection products. The maintenance and improvement of water quality and quantity, reduction of GHG emissions and air pollutants and efficient energy management are also covered.

ISCC Principle 3 defines safe working conditions at farm level, including health, safety and hygiene policies, and the use of protective clothing and procedures in case of accidents. Training and empowering workers for specific tasks will help prevent and manage accidents and protect workers.

Social standards are further specified under ISCC Principle 4, covering requirements for rural and social development, the rights of workers and local communities, based on but not limited to the the core labour standards, defined by the International LabourOrganization (ILO), which form ISCC’s basis of the human and labour rights criteria in its standard.

ISCC Principle 5 requires that all biomass production shall take place in compliance with applicable regional and national laws and shall follow international treaties. In addition, complying with principle 5 shall ensure that a farm or plantation does not encounter conflicts of interest or is involved in any form of bribery or corruption.

The rationale behind ISCC Principle 6 is to ensure good management
practices of farms/plantations and to facilitate the continuous improvement

Further Information

ISCC EU 202-1 – Agricultural Biomass: ISCC Principle 1 (v4.0, 01 July 2021)

Biomass used in food, feed, chemical and energy markets should be produced in a sustainable way. This document then explains how the production of biomass should follow best environmental, social and economic practices.

ISCC EU 202-2 – Agricultural Biomass: ISCC Principles 2-6 (v1.1, 01 December 2022)

ISCC Principles 2-6 contribute to the sustainable
cultivation of biomass and their products to support the reduction of environmental impacts, more efficient resource use and an increasing capacity for climate change adaptation and mitigation as well as climate resilience.