Standards Comparison and Analysis

Over the years hundreds of different sustainability standards have been developed, to meet the needs of different sectors, address particular issues, or for application in particular countries or regions. There is an increasing need to understand how different standards compare, and many initiatives have set themselves up to provide such assessments.

However, to really understand different standards requires much more than a superficial listing of ‘issues addressed’ or scoring for how ‘high’ or demanding a standard is in relation to a particular issue. A proper analysis needs to consider different standards’ ‘theories of change’, and the detail of their application measured against their own theory of change.

OneWorldStandards is regularly commissioned to carry out such detailed analyses and comparisons. As an example, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) asked OneWorldStandards to devise an objective framework for assessing the way diverse standards address freshwater issues, with particular reference to WWF’s own global objectives and strategies, and then to apply the framework to twenty-five different agricultural standards.

The study provided the basis for WWF’s in-depth report, ‘Strengthening Water Stewardship in Agricultural Sustainability Standards: Framing collaborative solutions to mitigate water risks’ by Alexis Morgan & Matthew Wenban-Smith, published in May 2015.

“The Alliance for Water Stewardship work was heavily guided by Matthew’s initial reports and thinking. His breadth and depth of experience and his knowledge of ISEAL’s standards and other standards is arguably as strong as anyone’s on the planet and he can therefore bring learning from peer systems to bear.” – Alexis Morgan, Water Stewardship Specialist, WWF International

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