Developing National Standards
Participation, openness, inclusiveness, and transparency are fundamental principles that PEFC applies to the development of national-level certification standards.
Along with other compliance bodies like ISO and IAF, PEFC firmly believes that the independence and complete separation of standards development, certification, and accreditation processes is key to the long-term credibility of any certification system.
PEFC is the only global forest certification system that has implemented internationally-recognized mechanisms to ensure unambiguous separation of these three essential activities.
Standards Development Process
National forest certification systems are developed in response to local demand, interest and commitment.
Before standards can be developed, PEFC requires that the process be initiated by or have the support of national forest owner organizations.
For long term sustainability, it is vital that those ultimately responsible for implementing requirements for forest management are committed to the standards and the processes in which they are developed. Engagement post facto is a much more difficult process.
The standards development process consists of the following steps:
- The creation of a working group for Standard Setting, responsible for defining its own documented standard-setting procedures tailored to the national context. A complaints and appeals mechanism must be designed at this stage to enable the impartial resolution of any issues that may arise. The working group works on the principle of consensus.
- The working group must have balanced representation and decision making, with the nine major groups defined in Chapter 23 of Agenda 21. Disadvantaged and key stakeholders must also be identified, their proactive participation sought and constraints to their participation considered.
- Once created, the working group will announce the start of the standards development process. It will issue regular updates on progress to enable engagement by interested stakeholders at any or all stages of the process and to keep all interested parties fully informed of proceedings.
- Once the working group has agreed a draft standard, it will initiate a 60-day national-level public consultation to seek further inputs and comments. Following the consultation period, the working group will publicly communicate information on changes and amendments resulting from this process.
- Pilot testing of national standards is another required element, with lessons learned being incorporated into the standards.
- Following this phase of development, the standards are finalized for implementation.
- The standards must be formally approved based on the evidence of consensus within this working group.
The requirements for stakeholder involvement in the standard development process and for consensus by stakeholders in the approval of all standards make PEFC unique in the world of forest certification.
Standards development doesn't stop once stop once a national standard has been finalized. PEFC requires and implements 5-year revisions of national standards. Consequently, PEFC recognition of national standards is time-limited, with national system being required to apply for re-endorsement.
This allows for continuous improvement of standards through the integration of new scientific research, experience and best practices. Equally important, however, it encourages permanent ongoing dialogue among stakeholders, thereby enhancing understanding, support and development of the concept of sustainable forest management at national level.
PEFC is the only globally-operating forest certification system that both requires and rigorously implements regular 5-yearly revisions of national standards.
Standard Setting (PEFC ST 1001:2010)
Describes the requirements for standardising bodies in the development and revision of forest management and scheme-specific chain of custody standards. It is based on ISO/IEC Guide 59.
Group Forest Management Certification (PEFC ST 1002:2010)
Defines the general requirements for forest certification schemes which include group forest management certification and allow the certification of a number of forest owners/managers under one certificate.
Sustainable Forest Management (PEFC ST 1003:2010)
Covers requirements for forest management standards applicable to all types of forests.
Chain of Custody (PEFC ST 2002:2013)
Specifies the requirements that organizations must comply with in order to be able to obtain chain of custody certification.
Certification and Accreditation Procedures (Annex 6)
Defines the certification and accreditation procedures for national certification schemes
Minimum Requirement Checklist (GL 2/2011)
Assists bodies developing or revising forest certification schemes in preparation of PEFC endorsement, and facilitates its assessment against PEFC Sustainability Benchmark requirements.
ISO/IEC Guide 2 - Standardization and Related Activities - General Vocabulary
Provides general terms and definitions concerning standardization and related activities, including the definition for consensus.
ISO Guide 59 - Code of Good Practice for Standardization
The guide deals with procedures for the development of standards, advancement of international trade, participation in the standards development process, coordination and information.
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Non-compliances with certification requirements are a serious matter. Report any complaints to the respective certification body.