While more and more companies publish information on their environmental performance, there is currently no standard to assess the credibility of that data. This is about to change: the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is developing a standard that provides guidance on the validation and verification of environmental reports. As a recognized assurance provider for sustainability reports and environmental KPIs, DQS welcomes the development of the new standard.

The goal of this new standard, which will be published as ISO 14016, is to increase the credibility and reliability of published environmental information in sustainability reports. A first draft of the ISO 14016 standard is expected to be released in the Summer of 2019. The standard will be modelled after ISO 14064-3, which already regulates the verification and validation of reports on greenhouse gases. It will also incorporate content from already existing assurance standards for the examination of sustainability reports as well as aspects of the EU’s EMAS regulation.

Why is ISO 14016 necessary?

To date, there is no solid unified basis for assessing the credibility of environmental data. Although assurance standards such as ISAE 3000 and AA1000 provide guidance for external assurance on sustainability information, they do not focus specifically on environmental data. ISO now wants to remedy this by presenting ISO 14016 as the internationally recognized assurance standard for environmental reports.

In addition, ISO will define general requirements for institutions that perform validations and verifications within a separate new standard, the ISO 17029 “Conformity Assessment”. This would also apply to organizations that conduct external assurance for (sustainability) reports. The main goal is to achieve a common understanding of the terms ‘validation’ and ‘verification’. In the area of corporate reporting, verification refers to the review of the data and the data collection process, whereas validation describes the review of the correct use of the statements of that data.

The draft of ISO 14016 shows how this new definitions of validation and verification leads to effective assurance in practice.

As a recognized assurance provider for sustainability reports, DQS welcomes the development of ISO 14016. Behzad Sadegh, product manager at DQS CFS for the verification of sustainability reports and sustainability KPIs, looks forward to the release of the standard: “Every assurance process of a corporate report focuses on the credibility of the data. How was the data collected? Is the data correct in the context in which it is placed? Is materiality taken into account? Our job is to systematically review these things. Improved comparability of environmental data and the associated increase in credibility will further enhance the benefits of non-financial reporting”.

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