Credible certification

Leading businesses involved in the production and trade of commodities such as timber, seafood, palm oil or cotton are increasingly participating in "multi-stakeholder initiatives". These set production standards, against which producers can become certified, if an independent auditor finds them to be compliant.

These standards aim to improve commodity production by reducing associated environmental and social impacts.

Producers can benefit from streamlined and more efficient production and better market access.

Find out more about the commodities that WWF is working on

Timber and paper Palm oil Cotton Biofuels Aquaculture
Whitefish Tuna Sugarcane Soy Beef

Once standards are agreed on, many of these initiatives evolve into independent certification schemes that trace a product through all stages of production, processing and distribution, hence allowing buyers to make purchasing decisions that contribute to environmentally responsible, socially beneficial and economically viable commodity production.

WWF has been involved in establishing several initiatives that certify commodities which have impacts on the places and species we care about.

You can find out about these below:

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)

	© 1996 FSC
FSC logo
© 1996 FSC
Since 1993, FSC promotes responsible management of the world’s forests. FSC certification is important to WWF’s conservation goal of reducing the loss of high conservation value areas, as it provides a link between responsible production and consumption of forest products, and allows the consumer to make responsible purchasing decisions. Read more...

Certification for sustainable timber sourcing continues to grow. As of August 2013, the FSC has more than 160 million hectares of forests certified to its social, economic and environmental standards. This covers more than 14% of global production forests as defined by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Furthermore, 53.4% global recycled pulp and paper production is FSC certified, and 6.6% of virgin fibre used for pulp and paper production is FSC certified (based on FAO and FSC data, August 2013).

WWF engages with the forest-related industry through its Global Forest & Trade Network (GFTN), comprising more than 260 companies employing over 1.5 million people, and manages approximately 21.1 million hectares of credibly certified forests and 5.1 million hectares in progress to certification. GFTN is responsible for 14% of the global total of FSC-certified forest area and sells $64 billion in forest product annually - an estimated 18% of the global total of forest products traded per year.

GFTN was established to assist companies in implementing responsible forest management and sourcing forest products from responsibly managed forests. First established in 1991, it is the world’s longest-running and largest forest and trade programme of its kind—providing assistance to hundreds of companies in many countries.

For the most recent FSC facts and figures, please see the Types and Distribution of Global FSC Certificates, a monthly publication. For the most recent GFTN factsheets, click here.


Watch WWF’s Jason Clay explain how if just 100 key companies go sustainable, global markets will shift to protect the planet our consumption has already outgrown.

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

	© MSC
MSC logo
Since 1999, the Marine Stewardship Council works to tip global seafood markets towards sustainability by certifying responsibly managed wild-caught fish, and making sustainable seafood globally available. Read more...

The MSC wild fisheries certification scheme continues to transform the global seafood market. Over 25,000 products carry the MSC ecolabel. Over 335 fisheries are engaged in the MSC programme. Together, these fisheries land over 10 million metric tons of seafood annually, or about 11% of global wild harvest. For the most recent information, see the MSC website.

Most recent data from MSC and FAO suggest that 52% of global Whitefish production, and 12.65% of global Tuna production are MSC certified (based on avaliable data August 2013).

Find out more about WWF’s Smart Fishing Initiative, which works with fishers, fisheries managers, seafood traders and retailers to reform commercial marine fisheries towards long-term sustainability – where seafood is harvested in a way that sustains and protects the marine environment, the species within it, and the people who depend on them.  

Read the most recent MSC Facts and Figures and find out how solutions developed to satisfy MSC criteria have become legal requirements in the South African whitefish industry and companies can lobby Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) for better tuna management practices.

Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)

	© Roundtable on sustainable palm oil (RSPO)
Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) logo
© Roundtable on sustainable palm oil (RSPO)
The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) promotes the production and purchase of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) through its certification scheme. Read more...
The RSPO has achieved several milestones: as of June 2012, almost 7 million tonnes of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) and certified sustainable palm kernel oil (CSPK) were produced by 154 certified palm oil mills with a production area of over 1.3 million hectares. Sustainable palm oil represents 16.4% of global palm oil production (based on FAO and RSPO data, August 2013).

To track the most recent levels of certified palm oil production, please see the RSPO's key statistics and find out how WWF works with the RSPO to continuously improve palm oil standards so they deliver conservation impacts.

Roundtable on Responsible Soy (RTRS)

RTRS logo
The RTRS, launched in 2006, was created to help ensure that current soy production and further expansion of the crop is done in an environmentally sound and socially responsible way, avoiding clearance of native forests and high conservation value areas. The RTRS counts more than 150 members from 22 countries from various backgrounds. Read more...
In June 2011, a coalition of the Dutch food and feed industry bought the first batch of RTRS soy for 85,000 tonnes of soy meal and Unilever Brazil bought the first certificates of 5,000 tons of soy oil. Less than 1% of global soy production is RTRS Certified (January 2014).

Read about how WWF uses RTRS standards to achieve its conservation goals working across soybean trade flows and supply chains>/a>.

Bonsucro (formerly The Better Sugarcane Initiative - BSI):

	© Bonsucro
Bonsucro logo
© Bonsucro
The Bonsucro Standard is the first standard to measure the impact of the sustainable production of sugar cane. Bonsucro is a collaboration of sugar retailers, investors, traders, producers and NGOs that are committed to sustainable sugar production by establishing principles and criteria that are applied in the sugarcane growing regions of the world. Read more...

In June 2011, we welcomed the very first certified sustainable sugar and ethanol to the market. 130,000 tonnes of Bonsucro certified sugar and 63,000 cubic metres of certified ethanol were produced by a mill in Sao Paulo, Brazil. As of January 2014, 3.32% of global sugar cane production, and more than 16 mills are Bonsucro Certified. Read about WWF's work for better sugar and a project in Queensland that is exploring ways to grow sugarcane more sustainably – and the benefit to the Great Barrier Reef.

Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC)

	© ASC
Aquaculture Stewardship Council logo
The ASC focuses on managing global standards for responsible aquaculture, which were initially developed by the WWF Aquaculture Dialogues. ASC aims to be the world's leading certification and labelling programme for responsibly farmed seafood. Read more...
Completed and upcoming standards focus on reducing the environmental and social impact of farmed seafood. As of December 2014, more than 1,494 products have been approved by the ASC in at least 58 countries. About half of these consist of pangasius, and more or less 25% of salmon. Find out more about WWF and responsible aquaculture.

Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (RSB)

	© Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB)
Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB) logo
© Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB)
Launched in March 2011, RSB standards define requirements for certification. Through collaboration between farmers, industries, NGOs and governments, the RSB certification system provides operators with assurance that their feedstock and fuels are guaranteed sustainable. Read more...
The RSB is supported by over 125 member organisations based in over 40 countries, representing a diverse range of stakeholders. RSB services is the certification branch of the RSB and will oversee the certification of operators according to the standard.

Estimates show that less that about 3% of biofuels produced globally are RSB, RSPO, RTRS or Bonsucro-certified (January 2014).

Read about WWF's work on sustainable materials and how we manage destructive projects and helps develop standards and incentives for better bioenergy production.

Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB)

The Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB) Logo
The Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef was officially launched as an independent organization in 2012. The goal of this Roundtable is to develop and promote greater adoption of sustainable beef practices that lead to science-based, measurable outcomes through a global multi-stakeholder initiative. Read more...

The GRSB has been in development since October 2010, when approximately 300 stakeholders met to address the environmental, economic and social impacts of beef production. WWF and other stakeholders of the beef value chain worked together to develop the GRSB which builds upon existing national and regional initiatives in the US, Brazil and Australia among others.

Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS)

	© Alliance for Water Stewardship
Alliance for Water Stewardship logo
© Alliance for Water Stewardship
The AWS, formed in 2009, works with engaged stakeholders from around the world to develop a global water stewardship programme and a permanent organisation to house this initiative. Read more...
At the heart of the programme is the International Water Stewardship Standard, based on critical aspects of water stewardship such as managing flows, water quality, habitats and ensuring good governance. The Standard aims to recognize and reward water users and managers who take significant steps to minimize their water use and impacts. When operational, the AWS programme will provide a powerful new voluntary incentive to companies and water service providers to improve the way water is managed around the world through a rigorous yet realistic Water Stewardship Standard.

Better Cotton Initiative (BCI)

	© BCI
Better Cotton Initiative
The BCI, launched in 2005, encourages the adoption of better management practices in cotton cultivation to achieve measurable reductions in key negative environmental impacts, while improving social and economic benefits for large- and small-scale cotton farmers around the world. Read more...
After almost a decade of preparation, the Better Cotton Initiative reached a true milestone in October 2010, when the first ever bales of verified 'better cotton' were sold, followed by BCI Projects in India & West Africa implemented by WWF, Solidaridad and other local partners. In the 2011-12 season, over 120,000 farmers have been participating in BCI related projects. As of January 2014, 3.8% of global cotton production is from the BCI.

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