How our standards are developed

Our international standards go through a detailed and rigorous development process that is consensus-driven, open and transparent, and is open to all stakeholders.

How our standards are developed

Our international standards and guides go through a detailed and rigorous development process before they can be approved and implemented. Multi-stakeholder working groups drive this process. They build consensus on the document, relying on the involvement of active and committed individuals from different interest groups. 

Everybody can nominate a representative to be in a working group. These groups meet several times throughout the process; bringing not only their own knowledge and experience, but that of their network too. Our role at PEFC International is to coordinate the work of the working groups, providing organizational and administrative support: we do not develop or revise the documents ourselves.

Developing standards: step by step

The development (or revision) of a standard goes through a series of key phases:

Proposal Stage

We prepare the project proposal; this includes a description of the scope and intended outcomes of the standard, and a justification for the need of the standard. The PEFC Board of Directors must approve it before moving on to the next stage.

Preparatory Stage

We invite stakeholders globally to nominate candidates to participate in the working group. We also carry out stakeholder mapping to ensure we have invited disadvantaged and key stakeholder groups to the process. We then evaluate the nominations based on their competence and background, and establish the working group. We also prepare the first working draft document of the standard.

Working Group Stage I

Sustainable forest management working group meeting

Based on the first working draft, the working group meets to discuss and develop the document. In some cases, we need to create breakout groups of experts to focus on specific, specialized aspects of the standard.

This stage usually requires 2-5 meetings, after which, the group should have found consensus on the enquiry draft. The enquiry draft is not finished the document, but is at a stage where the group is satisfied with the progress and ready for feedback. 

Enquiry Stage

Time to share the developing document with the rest of the world. We organize an online public consultation of at least 60 days, enabling stakeholders globally to make comments and give direct feedback on the enquiry draft. 

This is important for gaining additional observations and insights, helping the working group to shape the standard to ensure it meets stakeholder expectations. We provide a response to every comment we receive. 

Working Group Stage II

Once the public consultation is over, the working group will meet again to discuss the comments and revise the document, as required. The aim is now for the working group to build consensus to create a final draft of the document – this usually requires 1-2 meetings.

PEFC General Assembly voting

Approval Stage

When the working group has reached consensus on the final draft, they submit it to the PEFC International Board for approval. Following their approval, we then submit it to the General Assembly for approval. This means all PEFC members vote on whether we can implement the standard, or if it needs further work.

Publication and Implementation Stage

If the General Assembly approves the standard, we publish the document on the PEFC International website and inform PEFC members and stakeholders (accreditation and certification bodies in particular).

Now we need to implement the standard! This usually takes place over an extended period, with a suitable transition period set in order to give the users of the standard time to adjust. 

Working groups

Working groups are multi-stakeholder groups responsible for the development and/or revision of a technical document through a consensus-driven decision making process. They can range in size from eight to over 30 people. To ensure that no single interest can dominate the process, we ensure that all working groups have balanced representation of stakeholder categories.

Revising our standards

We review and revise our technical documentation regularly to ensure it continues to meet ever-changing knowledge, best practices and expectations. The revision of all our standards must begin five years following the last approval of the standard. The revision process goes through the same key phases as the development of a new standard.

Keep in touch

Subscribe to our newsletter