The principles of openness, transparency, and consensus are fundamental to the operation and further development of the Better Biomass certification system. These principles contribute to the integrity, credibility, and acceptance of standards, ensuring that they are fair, inclusive, and reflective of diverse perspectives. These principles are applied as follows in the standards development process:
– Participation Opportunities: Openness involves providing opportunities for a broad range of stakeholders to participate in the standards development process. This includes industry representatives, government agencies, academia, non-profit organizations, and other interested parties.
– Disclosure of Information: Relevant information, such as all Better Biomass system documents and composition of the committees, are disclosed via the better biomass website. This transparency helps stakeholders understand the decision-making context.
– Public Commenting Periods: The standards development process includes public commenting periods where relevant, during which interested parties can review and provide feedback on draft standards. This ensures that a diverse range of perspectives is considered before finalizing a standard.
– Consensus Building: The Better Biomass system documents are developed through a consensus-building process, where participants work together to achieve general agreement. Consensus may not necessarily mean unanimous agreement, but it indicates that there is a general acceptance among the majority of stakeholders, or no sustained opposition to the agreement.
– Balanced Representation: To promote consensus, the standards development committees aim at a balanced representation of stakeholders as much as possible. This helps prevent the domination of the process by a particular group and ensures that multiple perspectives are considered.
– Draft Publication: Draft standards are developed in a process which includes public and internal review and commenting rounds. This allows experts, organizations, and the general public to provide input, identify potential issues, and suggest improvements.
– Consideration of Feedback: The standards developing committees consider the feedback received during public review and comment periods, addressing valid concerns and making necessary revisions to improve the standard.
– Disclosure Requirements: Participants in the standards development process are required to disclose the stakeholder category which they represents, as well as their employer and (in case different) their financier. This uncovers possible conflicts of interest.
– Recusal Procedures: The members of the committees shall avoid conflicts of interest and refrain from participating in decision making in the case of a possible conflict of interest. If conflicts of interest arise, there are established appeal and complaints procedures for individuals to report cases of (suspected) conflict of interest.
– Fair Dispute Resolution: The scheme manager NEN has a mechanisms for addressing disputes and appeals, which is specified in the NEN Scheme Management Manual, section 9.2. This ensures that participants have a fair process for resolving disagreements about specific standards or decisions made during the development process.
By adhering to these principles, the Better Biomass scheme management seeks to create a process that is fair, inclusive, and capable of producing a certification system which enjoys broad acceptance and support across relevant industries and communities. These principles contribute to the credibility of standards and enhance their effectiveness in addressing the needs of various stakeholders.