How can we create a common language for sustainability assessement?
The multitude of standard setting organizations and purchasing parties that exist in the world today all have their own approach to sustainability assessment. These different actors use their own specific criteria and ways to articulate their standards. Thus, the field of certification and standards is not only complex due to its large number of actors, but also because of the diverse ways in which these individually operationalize the assessment of sustainability.
We aim to providing transparency and simplicity by creating a common language for sustainability assessment. With this goal in mind we have developed a method that allows the integration and harmonization of sustainability data derived from different sources and with different styles of articulation.
In order to be able to create a common language, we break the data from the different standards down into so-called 'data collection points'. Data collection points are core elements that make up the building blocks for any assessment. By breaking data in a standard down into its smallest elements, it becomes possible to compare the standard to another standard for which the same process has been applied. It now becomes visible which elements are unique for the standard, and which elements are shared with other standards.
By applying this methodology to a growing number of standards, we can create a ‘dictionary’ of data collection points. This dictionary serves as our central reference for the comparison and integration of data derived from different standards.
The methodology we use can be applied to all sustainability standards. For this reason it can serve as the basis or building blocks for a common language for the sustainability assessment for all parties linked to the food supply chain. If all parties use the same means for comparison, communicating and sharing data across the supply chain becomes easier. Creating these possibilities stimulates transparency.
You can continue to learn more about how our general methodology is translated to the People 4 Earth Framework.
The People 4 Earth Framework is the translation of our general methodology into a comprehensive classification system that organizes the entire spectrum of data collection points into one common language of sustainability themes.
The Framework comprises a broad spectrum of sustainability criteria which are organized into four domains, which are environment, society, economy and governance. Each of the data collection points is arranged within one of the four domains. By doing this, it becomes easier to see which domain(s) a sustainability assessment covers or how they are balanced.
A detailed overview of the Framework and its structure can be found below.
In order to create solid foundation for our framework we used other well-known and respected global initiatives as a reference. These include the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).
The system is constantly updated and expanded with new scientific insights and discoveries.
We invite you to contact us if you want to learn more about our methodology or the People 4 Earth Framework.