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Connecting local resource management with global concerns

Do you want to earn carbon credits and help in the fight against climate change at the same time? Or do you want to access profitable markets, with consumers willing to pay a higher price for sustainable produce? Is your project already partly implemented and ready for the last step? Then you may be interested in FSG’s Certification service.

About this service

Certification is "the procedure by which an independent body gives written assurance that a product, process or service conforms to specified requirements" (website FSC).

Through certification, producers get connected with the increasing international consumer demand for products that comply with social, environmental and climate standards. Once successfully certified, producers are allowed to carry the label from the standard setting organization on their products.

Worldwide, there are many certification systems, each identified with their specific labels. Examples are the ISO, FSC,CDM, VCS, CCBS and CE labels. And there are more.

One distinction to be made is between Market Access Requirements, that include mandatory standards, and Buyer Access Requirements that include voluntary standards (market-driven standards).

FSG’s expertise

FSG is not an independent Certification Body and not licensed to carry out certification processes. FSG’s role is however in successfully preparing stakeholders for certification. We help companies and producers improve their businesses and practices up until they receive the desired certificate from the Certification Body.

Receiving a certificate is often not enough for companies, however. Their efforts involved in standard compliance must be compensated for by profitable markets. This is where another core component of FSG expertise comes in: marketing of certified products. FSG is unique in this combined certification-market approach. For more information we refer to our B2B and Marketing service and our track-record.

Spain; Land+ includes trees, of course!

Service aspects

Hereafter, the different types of certification supported by FSG are described. A distinction should be made between carbon certification and the remaining types of certification. In carbon certification the primary goal is to claim carbon credits. In the other certification types the emphasis is on sustainability.

Carbon Certification

FSG has committed itself to the fight against climate change. The basis for this challenge were laid down in the Kyoto Protocol which binds industrial nations to greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reductions. Through a “Cap and Trade” system, national governments and corporations trade emission allowances under a “cap”, or agreed upon limits in greenhouse gas emissions. The Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and similar voluntary systems enable the development of projects that “produce” the tradable emission allowances. These emission allowances are commonly known as carbon credits. One carbon credit equals the right to emit one ton of CO2 equivalent.

FSG, with help from strategic partners, supports stakeholders in developing and implementation of projects that generate carbon credits. FSG supports two types of activities that generate carbon credits:

1. Carbon sequestration based on improved practices in (combined) agriculture and forestry
2. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by avoidance or substitution of fossil fuels and inputs.

Activity 1 results in a net increase of biomass above and below ground. Methods depend on project type, but may include reforestation, interplanting, soil restoration (with specialized grasses – picture 1), erosion control, reduced impact logging and many other.

Activity 2 aims at net GHG reductions by substituting fossil fuels and fertilizers with locally produced biomass or biogas. See Picture 2. Biomass can be cultivated and harvested (e.g. agricultural byproducts). Biogas is produced by fermentating harvest and processing residues (e.g. fresh leafs, milling effluents). Both can be used for local combustion and replace fossil coal, oil or natural gas. The byproduct of biogas (digestate) can be used as fertilizer.

Figure 1: Soil improving switchgrass Figure 2: Biomass pellets for energy

Both carbon saving activities form integral part of the LAND+ approach. The combined benefits of carbon credits, food, bioenergy, organic fertilizers and many more result in the most efficient use of every hectare of land with maximum benefits for people, climate and environment. Both types of carbon saving activities can be developed using five distinct frameworks explained hereafter:

1. Clean Development Mechanism (CDM)
This instrument allows governments and companies in Annex I countries to invest in projects that reduce emissions in developing countries (non-Annex I). After official approval (registration) and implementation of a carbon project, carbon credits (CERs or ERUs) are issued that are tradable on markets.
2. Verified Carbon Standard (VCS)
Based on CDM, various voluntary carbon standards were developed, among these the Verified Carbon Standard. This standard works in similar ways as CDM, but produces Verified Emission Reductions (VERs) tradable on markets.
3. Climate, Community and Biodiversity Standard (CCBS)
This standard is mostly used in combination with CDM or VCS. Its main target is to increase and protect biodiversity. Emission reductions have to be verified by CDM or VCS.
4. The Gold Standard
The Gold Standard is a widely respected standard, supported by WWF among other. Here too, the main goal is to achieve CO2 emission reductions with additional benefits for the local people.
5. REDD+
Forest destruction and degradation account for a significant part of global GHG emissions. The UN-REDD Program was established to secure international funds for reducing and avoiding emissions through forest destruction and deforestation (REDD).

Forest & Plantation Certification

Here, FSG prefers working with the standard developed by Forest Stewardship Council, or FSC in short. FSC is an organization based in Germany and developed a number of principles and criteria for sustainable management of forests and plantations. Our certification services target two different groups of stakeholders: forest owners (with Forest Management Units-FMU) and Chain of Custody stakeholders (COC). The latter includes any type of company or individual operating in the Chain of Custody.

Organic Agriculture Certification

Various standards are available worldwide. It depends on the sector which one could be selected.

Biomass and bioenergy Certification

Use of energy from renewable resources in the European Union must comply with E.U. legislation laid down in the EU Renewable Energy Directive (Directive 2009/28/EC). In addition, there are several standards developed in EU member states that are officially accepted by the European Commission. These include the NTA 8080 standard developed in the Netherlands, as one of the most comprehensive standards available. This standard was extensively tested for use in Ukraine during the Pellets for Power project. Another example is the German ISCC standard. Details vary among these standards. But, generally, the focus is on GHG emission reductions, sustainable land use and social and environmental sustainability.

Fairtrade Certification

Fairtrade certification is a product certification system. With a special label products can be identified that meet agreed environmental, labour, and development standards. Fairtrade International (FLO) maintains the standard. The Fairtrade standards and image stands for fair employment, good buying prizes and local livelihood improvements. Many products can be found in the market like: bananas, honey, oranges, cocoa, coffee, shortbread, cotton, dried and fresh fruits and vegetables, juices, nuts and oil seeds, quinoa, rice, spices, sugar, tea and wine. There is also a dual certification system, FSC-Fairtrade, being tested. FSG was part of the development.

EU Safety Certification (CE)

The CE marking is a mandatory conformity and health & safety marking for certain products sold within the EU. The CE marking is found on many products where safety is an issue. It consists of the CE-Logo and, if applicable, the four digit identification number of the notified body involved in the conformity assessment procedure. The CE marking is the manufacturer's declaration that the product meets the requirements of the applicable EC directives. By applying the CE-mark the producer declares that: The product complies with relevant European laws, is of a constant quality (independently checked) and that the product complies with the relevant technical specification.

All timber & timber products exported to EU market and used for construction or building purposes must have the CE marking! Some wooden toys and children’s’ furniture requires CE as well. FSG has helped many companies to comply with CE.

ISO Certification

For ISO certification there are several options with regards to certifications. There is the standard ISO 9001 standard for Total Quality Control which is very useful to improve the quality and efficiency of any company.

A 9001 standard could easily be combined with the 14000 family of standards. The ISO 14000 family addresses various aspects of environmental management. It provides practical tools for companies and organizations looking to identify and control their environmental impact and constantly improve their environmental performance. ISO 14001 and 14004 focus on environmental management systems. The other standards in the family focus on specific environmental aspects such as life cycle analysis, communication and auditing.

Next steps?

As mentioned above, it is wise to combine certification with the right marketing strategies that result in access to profitable markets. For more information, please ask for our Market research services.

                  Read more

For a full overview of all the terms used in this page, click here.

Kyoto Protocol
Adopted at the Third Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change held in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997, the Kyoto Protocol commits industrialized country signatories to reduce their greenhouse gas (or "carbon") emissions by an average of 5.2% compared with 1990 emissions, in the period 2008-2012.

The Kyoto Protocol only allows for reforestation of land cleared before 1989. This must be done by: tree-planting or assisted natural regeneration.

These actions meet Clean Development Mechanism criteria and are 'Kyoto compliant'. All other actions are non-Kyoto compliant, and sometimes these will fall under REDD mechanisms (avoided future emissions by better forest security against illegal activities or further deforestation.) These types of Carbon credits are good voluntary offsets (for the Voluntary markets).

Annex 1 Countries
Annex I is an Annex in the UNFCCC listing those countries that are signatories to the Kyoto protocol Convention and committed to emission reductions. The non-Annex I countries are developing countries, and they have no emission reduction targets.

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