Certification and biodiversity

KPMG launched a new study dealing with the effectiveness of certification schemes on biodiversity. The goal of the report is to reveal current and possible future trends and challenges in relation to the effectiveness of certification regarding biodiversity conservation. These issues are increasingly receiving attention from various stakeholders.

KPMG has identified several challenges that may be faced as well as possible improvement and interventions that could be made by government, the business community, the certification schemes themselves and various NGOs.  
To date, a number of attempts have been made to document the environmental impacts of certification, but only a small percentage of these studies have used evidence-based research methodologies. Although biodiversity criteria are being addressed in certification schemes only a few demonstrate a high level of maturity.

Evaluating these criteria is challenging as it is difficult to separate the impact on biodiversity from other indicators, like water conservation or soil management. Factors affecting the success of certification schemes as a whole include, for example, the importance of transparent, clear and measureable criteria which have their credibility assessed by a third party. Price premiums are important in removing barriers faced by producers entering into certification due to high costs and an increased administrative burden.

Market trends indicate that the demand for internationally sourced sustainable commodities will rise in the coming years. The challenge here lies in how to meet this increasing demand whilst meeting certain necessary biodiversity goals. There may be opportunities to integrate biodiversity criteria more explicitly into current schemes, however the lifecycle stage of each commodity with regard to certification needs to be taken into consideration as this will impact the type of intervention required.

Sector initiatives have a role to play in finding solutions to cross-sector and multi-dimensional sustainability issues, such as biodiversity. Thus, solutions to ensure that biodiversity is more explicitly addressed by means of certification should be taken in a multi-stakeholder setting where each actor has a certain role to play.

While governments should mainly focus on regulatory issues they can also initiate or rise demand of certified products through own procurement. Business will face the challenge of guaranteeing its supply of sustainable commodities and improving the biodiversity impact across its supply chain. Certification schemes, for example, can contribute by cooperating on developing more specific biodiversity criteria in current or new schemes whereas the role of NGOs will focus on highlighting the need for maximum transparency and traceability of biodiversity improvements in certification.

For further information please find the KPMG study here

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