Can CBs Deliver Independent Audits?
Room: SPB 1
Objectivity, independence and an absence of conflict of interest are at the heart of 3rd party auditing. Our current system in which organizations retain Certification Bodies (CBs) to conduct the audits that lead to and maintain FSC certificates has served us well since 1994. The system has placed requirements on the CBs to avoid conflicts of interest and to ensure rigorous and credible independent audits. However, the fact that organizations pay fees directly to the CBs and develop long-term business relationships with them remains a fundamental weakness that can undermine the integrity and credibility of FSC certification auditing. Increasingly, with many more certification bodies now competing for a limited amount of work, there is inherent conflict and tension between the requirements for a CB to conduct rigorous independent audits and the CB’s need to also maintain business relationships with the Organizations it audits and to respond to the pressures to reduce the cost of audits in a competitive environment.
There are growing concerns that the proliferation of CBs and the current system bring inherent conflicts of interest and lead to poorer quality audits. This is beginning to challenge the credibility and integrity of the system. For example, 89% of the respondents to the recent Quality Assurance Unit survey about risks to the FSC assurance system identified “Certification by CBs” as a major issue. It received the highest rank of the 15 possible answers provided.
This side event will explore the systemic weakness in the current system and investigate if there are innovative alternative approaches for retaining auditors that will address the inherent conflicts of interest, and the critical need for independence, rigour and credibility and that can be piloted to test their viability and impact.
- Grant Rosoman, Greenpeace New Zealand
- Keith Moore