Deforestation, the loss of biodiversity, and the overwhelming climate crisis are problems that we cannot ignore – and that are too big to be solved with just one magic bullet. We need a variety of instruments to tackle the biggest environmental problems of our time and while destructive criticism might not be one of those instruments, certification certainly is.
Much to our regret, the report “Certifying Destruction” contains not only false statements about the functions of certification systems in general, and ISCC in particular, but also lacks constructive and solution-oriented criticism.
Moreover, Greenpeace seems to be subject to a widespread misunderstanding about the role of certification systems. The primary function of sustainability certification is to ensure sustainability throughout supply chains. As a strong, no-deforestation certification system ensuring fully traceable supply chains, ISCC cannot expect that every farmer and economic operator is able to comply with highest environmental, social and greenhouse gas emission standards. Lowering the standard with the goal to increase the number of ISCC system users would hardly be a solution and would further expose ISCC to accusations of greenwashing.
However, there are approaches beyond certification that need to be applied to prevent deforestation and stop the climate crisis, particularly on the national/regional level. Therefore, ISCC supports regional initiatives, national standards and landscape approaches for smallholders that aim to mitigating deforestation and sustainability risks in a region. Furthermore, ISCC is heavily involved in the development of remote sensing tools, mobile apps and databases which facilitate the automatic detection of unsustainable practices and help smallholders gain access to markets.
While NGOs can play an important role in revealing deficiencies and weaknesses, and thereby help to further improve the ISCC certification system, destructive criticism leads nowhere. We acknowledge our responsibility to correct statements such as “ISCC heavily relies on self-reporting”, and so have compiled a comprehensive list of false statements and interpretations in the Greenpeace report, which can be found here. The ISCC certification system is based on strict requirements that are verified by independent third-party auditors during annual audits. In addition, ISCC conducts Integrity Assessments that verify compliance with system requirements on a sample basis. Furthermore, we would like to reject the statement “ISCC is to all intents and purposes controlled by the industry”. ISCC cooperates with various NGOs and initiatives, e.g. the WWF (founding member of ISCC), Welthungerhilfe (World Hunger Aid), Textile Exchange and the Tropical Forest Alliance.
We believe that it is inherently important that all stakeholders involved in the development of sustainable practices enter into a constructive dialogue, combine their knowledge and address the challenges that we face – together.
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For a comprehensive overview, please look at ISCC’s full response to false, biased and polemically formulated statements in the Greenpeace Report.
If you are interested in the academic background of the impact of certification, please click here for an article by Prof. Gernot Klepper, Chairman of the ISCC association.