PEFC is an umbrella organization that endorses national forest certification systems.
National certification systems that have developed standards in line with PEFC requirements can apply for endorsement to gain access to global recognition and market access through PEFC International. To achieve endorsement, they need to meet PEFC’s rigorous Sustainability Benchmark.
This "bottom-up" approach provides a high degree of independence of national processes, and allows for the development of standards tailored to the political, economic, social, environmental and cultural realities of their respective countries, yet in compliance with rigorous international benchmarks.
This independence is also expressed by the mature relationship among national forest certification systems that come together in PEFC. The PEFC framework allows for “sovereign” national systems to join forces to collaboratively promote sustainable forest management and the goods produced from sustainable forest management in the global market.
This pragmatic "bottom-up" approach is the reason why PEFC has become the world's largest forest certification system, and the certification system of choice for small family- and community- owned forests.
The endorsement process ensures that national standards comply with PEFC’s Sustainability Benchmark and that all requirements are rigorously and consistently applied across all national certification systems.
Mutual recognition among PEFC-endorsed national systems allows PEFC-certified wood to be identified and accepted globally under one, easily recognizable eco-label.
Any national certification system seeking to obtain PEFC endorsement or re-endorsement must submit to a comprehensive and thorough assessment process, including independent evaluation and public consultation. A full final report of this process is then made publicly available.
This process takes on average nine months to complete. It consists of the following steps:
- A national certification system applies for assessment. An independent assessor is appointed, and PEFC announces the start of the assessment process.
- All documentation about the system is made publicly available. Global stakeholders are invited to comment and provide feedback on any aspect of the system. This public consultation lasts 60 days; it complements the national consultation process carried out as part of the standards development process.
- The appointed assessor evaluates compliance of the national system with PEFC requirements. The assessment is based on all comments received, field trips, and other available information.
- A Panel of Experts reviews the assessment report to ensure consistency, quality and robustness.
- The full assessment report, including all documentation and feedback from stakeholders, is evaluated by the Board of Directors, which provides a recommendation to the General Assembly.
- All the documentation and reports are then submitted to the General Assembly – the highest authority of PEFC – for endorsement.
- The General Assembly votes on the endorsement of the national system. A two-thirds majority is required for a system to be endorsed.
- Complete documentation relating to all endorsed systems, including full assessment reports and Panel of Experts’ assessment, is made publicly available.
PEFC is the only international forest certification system that gives all its members a voice in the endorsement and acceptance of national certification standards.
A permanent mechanism, the complaints and appeals process, is available to stakeholders at all times to enable them to monitor compliance of endorsed national systems with PEFC's Sustainability Benchmark and draw attention to non-compliance at any point in time.
Endorsement and Mutual Recognition of National Schemes and their Revision (Annex 7)
Sets the rules for the endorsement and mutual recognition of national certification schemes, and guide the assessment and decision-making in the endorsement and mutual recognition process.
Involvement of the Panel of Experts in the Endorsement of National Forest Certification Schemes (GL 8/2008)
Provides procedures governing the appointment and work of the Panel of Experts (PoE) within the process of the endorsement of national forest certification schemes.