UK's first certifiable sustainability standards

Finally, the UK now has an independently certifiable sustainability standard - BS8900 Managing sustainable development of organisations. This is not structured like the more well-known standards of ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001. It has two parts – Part 1 being a Guide, and Part 2 being the Framework for assessment and specification.

Part 1 provides guidance on the principles of sustainability including inclusivity, integrity, stewardship and transparency. It also includes some guidance on stakeholder identification and engagement, risk identification, KPI setting and review processes.

Key to this standard is also a requirement to monitor progress on a maturity matrix, for which examples are given to aid development. This so far appears to be a useful tool for organisations to use. Assessment requires an organisation to demonstrate how it meets the guidance as per the requirements in Part 2.

For those with limited knowledge or experience of sustainability and social responsibility, ISO 26000 Guidance on social responsibility provides much more guidance on the relevant core subjects of social responsibility and would help with implementation of BS8900. For supply chain management, BS8903 Principles and framework for procuring sustainably provides good guidance on improving.

For the future, this will add pressure for ISO to produce an international sustainability standard, progressing ISO 26000. Watch this space for developments.