ISEAL community comes together to share innovations, experiences and advice

ISEAL members and subscribers demonstrated a range of tools and innovations designed to increase the impacts of sustainability standards, during ISEAL’s Innovation Summit. The Innovation Summit, held during Members’ Week, highlighted how bringing the right experiences and people together can improve sustainability impacts across the supply chain.   

Boosting the impact of sustainability standards

Standards organisations realise that to achieve scale and deepen their impacts they must innovate and evolve. The ISEAL Innovations Fund has granted more than 4,700,000 Swiss Francs over the last four years, supporting our members’ development of new solutions to shared sustainability challenges.

Since 2015, 22 ISEAL members have worked together to better understand key sustainability issues and adapt and test new models that will help transform sectors toward sustainability.

The fund currently supports a range of projects, including: piloting tools that support indigenous rights to informed consent; developing common indicators to demonstrate impact across sectors; and exploring how sustainability systems can work together in a jurisdiction to drive sustainability improvement.

A community working together

During the summit, our panellists discussed subjects ranging from global imaging systems to mobile applications that connect the consumer with the producer.

The importance of collaboration along the supply chain was highlighted by recent work in exploring blockchain technology and traceability. Tatjana Meier from IBM explained the inherent collaborative nature of the technology, as it requires everybody working together to create value.

A panel discussion considered new trends and approaches to certification – discussing systems in terms of jurisdictions or regions, rather than (or as well as) units of production. The development of landscape approaches is still in a learning stage and, our panellists agreed, the emphasis for now is the development of guidance and providing information to interested companies.

Throughout the summit, the shared goal of collaborating to drive impacts came through audibly. Helen Ireland, from the Accountability Framework Initiative, emphasised the importance of standards working across a variety of jurisdictions, highlighting the emerging areas where standards can play a role in the future, particularly in helping businesses to develop their systems.

Initiatives that bring actors together

Increasingly, sustainability standards invest in initiatives that will bring governments, companies and producers together. And, according to our speakers from SAN, ASC and Bonsucro, this approach can increase effectiveness and make it easier to measure impacts. Across the room, there was great enthusiasm for the idea of aligning practices at a landscape level to address issues such as deforestation.

Panellists across the sessions discussed the potential that shared data has for streamlining certification. A speaker from the Aluminium Stewardship Council emphasised the efficiencies that producers can benefit from when standards work together, for example removing the need to recertify for a certain criteria, once it has been reliably verified.

The power of data

Throughout the day, attendees had the chance to find out more about some of the projects supported by the Innovations Fund, during project showcase sessions. For example, Robert Ewing from GEO told us more about their work on industry wide sustainability reporting, and Eliane Augareils from BCI highlighted the importance of consistency across data indicators in the Delta project.

You can learn more about the projects supported by the Innovations Fund on the Innovations Hub.

The power of big data and the emergence of new digital tools to harness it was an important part of the conversation. Expanding on earlier discussions, attendees heard from Rod MacKinnon of itGISworx how satellite data can be used by agricultural lenders to monitor land use remotely. Using this approach, banks can intervene when necessary, providing technical assistance to farmers to support optimal and more sustainable production practices.  


The ISEAL Innovations Fund is open to all ISEAL members as well as prospective members that are making progress along a clearly defined roadmap to membership. Learn more about opportunities available with the fund.