PEFC governance & standards development: Clarifying roles and responsibilities

In PEFC, standards are developed by standard setting working groups, the PEFC General Assembly gives the formal approval.

PEFC governance & standards development: Clarifying roles and responsibilities

27 August 2019 20th anniversary

The PEFC General Assembly is PEFC’s highest decision-making body. How much fame can it claim for our most widely known output, our internationally recognized forest certification standards? The short answer is: close to none. The General Assembly has important decisions to make, but the actual content of our technical documentation is not part of it. 

“In PEFC, standards are developed by standard setting working groups,” explains Dr Michael Berger, Deputy Secretary General and Head of Technical Unit at PEFC International. 

“These working groups, comprising all relevant and interested stakeholder groups, are instrumental in the development of our standards and responsible for building consensus on a final draft standard.” 

The role of the PEFC General Assembly, as well as the PEFC Board of Directors, is limited the formal approval of the final draft standards. 

“This formal approval is necessary so that the final draft standards can in fact become PEFC standards. Without this approval through the PEFC governance bodies, they could be anybody’s standards,” highlights Dr Berger. “The General Assembly and the Board of Directors approve the standards – or can decide not to do so – but don’t have a say about the content. Neither can change a single word.”

Responsibilities of the PEFC General Assembly & the Board of Directors

So what is the PEFC General Assembly responsible for? It has quite a number of important task, focusing on the administration and management of PEFC as an association. This includes decisions about our statutes, budget, appointing the Board and membership.

Our Board of Directors supports the work of the General Assembly by preparing the budget and the meetings of the General Assembly and members meetings, as well as formal oversight and guidance of our work within the secretariat.

We wanted to ensure that our standards benefit from the best available knowledge, from the best practices on the ground, and from the latest scientific information. Michael Berger, Head of Technical Unit

Impartiality at heart

That our governance bodies do not have much of a say concerning the content of our standards is done by design, explains Dr Berger. 

“We wanted to ensure that our standards benefit from the best available knowledge, from the best practices on the ground, and from the latest scientific information. This means that we needed to ensure that everyone involved in the standard setting process can speak their mind, that there’s no vested interest, no hidden agenda. To achieve this, our standards are developed independently from our governance, ensuring a high degree of impartiality.”

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