The ISEAL Code is here. It’s important news for businesses interested in improving sustainability impacts

The ISEAL Code of Good Practice for Sustainability Systems came into effect on 1 March 2024. It responds to changing demands in the sustainability landscape, with a new focus on gender, data, and due diligence, raising the bar on credible practice for sustainability systems.

Meeting the challenge

Today’s sustainability challenges are ever more urgent. Human rights, poverty, climate or biodiversity; all demand attention from governments, businesses and the sustainability systems that do so much to support policymakers and corporate sustainability leaders. 

The ISEAL Code aligns with the ISEAL Credibility Principles, creating a guide for stakeholders seeking more sustainable ways to do business. 

“Our Credibility Principles define the core values of credible and effective sustainability systems,” explains Martyn Cole, Senior Manager for Membership & Credibility at ISEAL. 

“The ISEAL Code makes these more tangible, operationalising what our principles mean in practice.

“We’ve also included a focus on data, stakeholder engagement, claims and content around due diligence and remediation, plus we've included gender for the first time.

“Policymakers and businesses are often trying to understand what good practice looks like within the policies they're setting. I hope the ISEAL Code becomes a global reference point to support them in their efforts.” 

Integrating the ISEAL Code

The ISEAL Code unifies ISEAL’s previous Codes into one document. It is a strengthening and a broadening of our previous content.

These robust changes are more capable of speaking to what stakeholders expect of sustainability systems.

Crucially, the ISEAL Code provides a more holistic perspective on how sustainability systems themselves operate. It takes an all-encompassing view across a sustainability system, creating a broader lens for improvement.

“We will regularly review the ISEAL Code, ensuring it reflects best practice across the sustainability landscape,” continues Martyn.

“While this is version one, we have an ongoing revision procedure we follow very meticulously. The next review date will be in March 2028.”

The ISEAL Code underwent several rounds of stakeholder consultation. We constantly gather and welcome feedback. 

Telling an inspirational sustainability story

The ISEAL Code supports sustainability systems in understanding and improving their impacts. In so doing, it offers significant value to those involved in real-world sustainability efforts.

Lucy Redmore, Associate Manager for Credibility & Innovations at ISEAL, elaborates: “We are not necessarily expecting policymakers and businesses to dig into the ISEAL Code in lots of detail.

“But they will have an interest in what it has to say, why it's important and how they can use it.

“They might wish to understand which sustainability systems they should work with and how. Or they might be struggling to navigate the many different standards and labels out there.”

For people and planet

Through the ISEAL Code, we are helping sustainability systems improve. Sustainability is also about people and engaging with consumers who care about enabling sustainable business practices. 

“This is why it's so important that we have brought claims within the latest remit,” says Martyn. 

“When a consumer sees labels and products they should be meaningful: they should be clear, accurate and relevant, and backed up by systems that are transparent and robust. 

“While we don't advocate for any particular claims, the ISEAL Code helps embed practice that supports the legitimate claims out there.

“For gender, the ISEAL Code responds to growing awareness of gender inequality.

“For due diligence, this is about recognising changing stakeholder expectations and regulation, and the importance of sustainability systems clearly defining their potential role.

“In terms of how businesses communicate about sustainability, this gives them something they can use confidently, and a better story to tell,” Martyn concludes.

The launch webinar for the ISEAL Code of Good Practice for Sustainability Systems takes place on 29 April 2024.

Register here.