16 November 2023 | Geneva, Switzerland. After a one-year pilot period, revisions to RSB’s Principles & Criteria (P&C) were approved at the RSB Formal Assembly of Delegates, finalising the latest developments to the core sustainability requirements for advancing the bio-based and circular economy.
Revision of RSB’s P&C happens every five years to ensure that our world-class sustainability framework remains fit for purpose and guided by best-practice. Last year, after multiple rounds of public consultations, RSB and its membership community revised the P&C. The revisions were then presented and approved at the previous Formal Assembly of Delegates on condition that the proposed changes underwent a pilot period of one year, in order to review their feasibility under real-case scenarios.
This year, RSB participating operators volunteered to test the revised requirements on continuous improvement, FPIC (free, prior and informed consent), GHG reduction thresholds, human and labour rights, food security, soil carbon, water management, air quality, land use, and more. During this time, important insights were gathered and feedback provided, which further refined these revisions to RSB’s foundational sustainability requirements.
In summary, these approved revisions include:
• increased specificity around labour conditions, particularly affecting farm-level operations and the evidence required for compliance;
• clarification of the approach for different conservation type areas, making the requirements more understandable;
• improved wording and clarity on soil management practices and their applicability;
• increased specificity regarding the toxicity levels for pesticide formulation; and
• strengthening requirements on the use of invasive species.
The approval of these revisions comes at a pivotal time as policy makers in various regions and sectors announce their ambitious sustainability goals, the finance sector explores more innovative models to fund meaningful change, and multilateral organisations look for new ways to invest significant funds that create multiple positive impacts and resilient futures. Across all of these areas, RSB’s sustainability framework is frequently highlighted as the most credible example for guiding the advancement of the biocircular economy.
“RSB is grateful to our certified participating operators and members, with whom we have collaborated and who have tested the proposed changes to RSB’s Principles & Criteria over the past year. This process has ensured that all updates are robust, clear and will make a genuine contribution to ensuring positive impacts can be created by the biocircular economy,” said RSB’s Technical Director, Nicola Noponen.
“At RSB, a growing network of thought-leaders, innovators, practitioners and business leaders have come together with a shared vision of a world we want to live in – where climate change has been mitigated, ecosystems restored and livelihoods enhanced. Now, having gone through this vital multi-stakeholder consultation process, we are able to provide our community the confidence to leverage our best-in-class sustainability framework, and collaborate on creating solutions that support this vision.” – Elena Schmidt, RSB Executive Director.
The RSB Principles & Criteria (v.4), the foundational document of our collaborative network, will be distributed publicly in early 2024. For any queries regarding our sustainability framework and/or associated standards, please contact RSB Technical Director, Nicola Noponen.