International Accreditation Systems

International accreditation systems are organizations which work to keep other major global stakeholders in check and set globally recognized standards.

These systems are membership based and very often mimic or accompany UN led programs.

The following are just a few of the major global players overseeing social and environmental standards, stakeholders and systems.

International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM):

ifoamIFOAM acts as the global platform for the organic movement. It develops, communicates and defends the principles of organic agriculture; it advocates and facilitates the adoption of organic agriculture; it promotes the development of organic markets; and it ensures an effectively managed organization with sufficient and sustainable resources.

IFOAM has more than 870 affiliates in over 115 countries and is the world’s largest umbrella organization for Organic Agriculture. They work to facilitate discussion and harmonize standards.

The IFOAM General Assembly elects the World Board for a three-year term. In turn, the World Board appoints members to official committees (such as Standard and Norm Setting), working groups, and task forces, based upon the recommendation of the IFOAM membership. (Source: )

The World Board approves new members who must agree on the definition of organic agriculture and to the principles of organic agriculture: Health, Ecology, Fairness and Care, and that all principles include humans, animals, soil, plants, and environment.

IFOAM has a much defined set of standards. They have official observer status or are otherwise accredited by a number of international organizations, including the United Nations.

The ISEAL Alliance:

isealThe International Social and Environmental Accreditation and Labelling (ISEAL) Alliance is the global association for social and environmental standards.  Founded in 2002 in the UK, the founding members were eight certification organizations: FSC, FLO, IFOAM, IOAS, MAC, Rainforest Alliance, SAI and MSC. Their mandate is to create a world where ecological sustainability and social justice are the normal conditions of business.

Working with established and emerging voluntary standard systems, ISEAL develops guidance for, and helps strengthen the effectiveness and impact of these standards.  They work with companies, non-profits and governments to support the referencing and use of voluntary standards.

ISEAL is globally oriented, where they support certification organizations in finding their requirements by setting standards for the process. They are global association for social and environmental standards. They developed the Code of Practice that is internationally used and accepted, as well as developed the Code of Good Practice for Assessing the Impact of Standards Systems.

International Organization for Standardization (ISO):

isoThe ISO is the world's largest developer and publisher of International Standards. It is a network of the national standards institutes of 161 countries. There is one member per country, with a Central Secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland, that coordinates the system.

ISO is a non-governmental organization that forms a bridge between the public and private sectors. Many of its member institutes are part of the governmental structure of their countries, or are mandated by their government. Other members have their roots in the private sector, having been set up by national partnerships of industry associations.