Expert Group Presents Risk-based Management Tools

At Tuesday’s session on building an effective normative framework, experts presented how FSC can streamline its normative framework and make it more outcome-oriented using a risk-based management system. The key message of the session was that proper management is a way to manage risk through thorough assessment of problems and solutions, and making use of monitoring and evaluation.

By Morten Brodde, FSC Denmark

The session started with different voices summing up the reason why the concept of risk-based approach is a key priority for FSC:

“Our normative framework is overbuilt, complex, and costly. It’s like a bowl of spaghetti.” 

“We get lost dealing with everything instead of focusing on what is important.” 

“What does it mean? … This could be Greek.” 

These and other concerns have been raised by stakeholders, members, and FSC staff referring to the 90 standards, policies, and related processes that make up the FSC normative framework also known as the ‘backbone of FSC’. Addressing these concerns is crucial for FSC to ‘live’ its values and reach its target market share of 20 per cent by 2020.

Not a magic formula but proper management

The goal is to make the normative framework, standards, and processes more stable, responsive, simple, predictable, cost-effective, and outcome-oriented. At Tuesday’s framework session, Vivian Peachey, Director of Standards, FSC Canada, and Henrik von Stedingk, Forest and Standard Manager, FSC Sweden, presented a proposal with various tools to reach this goal.

“We don’t have a magical formula that suddenly streamlines and makes us more outcome-oriented,” explained von Stedingk.

“Instead, a risk management system should address any proposed change made to the normative framework so that we will be better able to find good solutions and write strong standards and policies. … If done well, we should have greater success in balancing credibility and confidence while extending our reach and making us more relevant.” 

An overview of the proposal has been published in a discussion paper called ‘A Proposal for Risk-based and Outcome-oriented Approaches to FSC’s Normative Framework’.

Toolbox for managing risk

Peachey gave examples of the tools that are included in the outcome-oriented risk management system. The proposed users of the tools are the FSC Policy and Standards Unit, working groups, Board of Directors, standard development groups, certification bodies, and even group and forest managers. The tools will be used to support both management and programmatic areas:

“The tools can, for example, be used to address questions like: How do we make forest certification more accessible to smallholders? Are new approaches solutions to certification allowed within existing rules? What changes could be introduced to make them more impactful, effective, and efficient?” she explained.

One of the tools is a risk loop, which is a modified ISO loop – a well-recognized industry norm. It directs process and provides structure for the risk management system. The risk loop includes phases of problem and risk identification, interrogation and solution finding, continual improvement, and problem-solving.

Another tool is a problem registry, where problems, common root causes, risk ratings, and mitigations (among others) are registered.

All the proposed tools can be found in the published discussion paper.

What are the next steps?

The proposal of an outcome-oriented risk management system is part of the first phase of the Streamline the Normative Framework project that was initiated in Rroachrearly in 2017. The expert group encouraged attendees to look at the proposal and provide feedback. The next phase of the project will focus on how to test and apply the risk management tools to the normative framework.