More and more organisations are seeking out a climate seal to underline their commitment to climate protection in a public and advertising-friendly way. The market for labels is confusing, however, and making a choice isn’t easy. But now the search is over: on behalf of the Foundation Development and Climate Alliance(Stiftung Allianz für Entwicklung und Klima), adelphi has created a new climate excellence seal for sustainable organisations.
Sustainability labels on product packaging are an increasingly common sight in places like supermarkets. Some of these labels are serious and meaningful – others less so. This can lead to suspicions of greenwashing and affect an organisation’s credibility. The situation is very similar for sustainability seals for organisations (e.g. companies, authorities, cities, etc.), because more and more customers, partners, investors or even employees want to see ambitious engagement in development and climate. In this way, sustainable management is becoming an increasingly important competitive factor and can be decisive for economic success.
It is therefore advisable for organisations not to take any unnecessary risks and to rely on a climate seal that they can fully trust, one that places the highest demands on climate protection ambitions and sustainability performance. The Sustainable Development Gold (SDGold) is precisely that. It was launched by the Foundation Development and Climate Alliance. The goal: to promote the commitment of non-governmental actors to sustainable development and international climate protection. According to the Alliance, many of the 1,400 supporters of the foundation are already reducing their greenhouse gas emissions (GHG emissions) and offsetting unavoidable emissions in the Global South with compensation projects. With SDGold, the foundation wants to honour especially committed supporters on the one hand and establish transparent, qualitative standards for business on the other.
How do interested organisations receive the gold climate seal?
The very first step on the way to the SDGold climate seal: sign the participation declaration of the Foundation Development and Climate Alliance as a supporter, either as an organisation or a private individual. Among other things, this means that the company is willing to support the sustainable development goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Climate Agreement and to develop a holistic climate protection strategy. The latter pursues the goal of reducing organisational GHG emissions as quickly as possible and offsetting the remaining emissions with compensation projects. Interested organisations can use an online tool to check in advance whether they meet the basic criteria for applying for the seal of quality.
To be certified, organisations must go through five stages of testing:
1. Establish responsibilities and perform a risk analysis along the entire supply chain
2. Balance GHG emissions comprehensively and according to scientific standards
After completing these two steps, the organisation is included in the “SDGo – Destination SDGold” circle. That’s where things really take off, in a sense: members can take part in workshops and advanced training courses.
3. Define concrete and ambitious climate protection goals and measures
4. Compensate for emissions that cannot yet be avoided through high-quality climate protection projects in the Global South
5. Contribute to the achievement of the SDGs, e.g. by purchasing emission credits from “Least Developed Countries”
After successfully completing all stages of the test, organisations receive the SDGold seal of quality for an initial period of three years. This allows them to credibly communicate that they have achieved “Excellence in Sustainable Development”.
Independently tested and awarded: the benefits
With this multi-stage approach, the Foundation Development and Climate Alliance calls on its supporters to adhere to the sequence of “avoiding and reducing before offsetting” GHG emissions. To this end, an external testing body verifies the concrete procedures of the organisations in steps 3 to 5. It also reviews whether the standards of the supported climate protection projects in the Global South meet the requirements of the foundation and also promote development effects. The foundation provides organisations with advice throughout the entire assessment process, for example with the development of a climate protection strategy. All this offers seal candidates transparency and security in terms of the SDGs and the Paris Agreement.
Credibility booster for trustworthy sustainability communication
With the SDGold climate seal, organisations can not only testify to their certified commitment to sustainable development and international environmental protection, but also communicate them effectively to the public. And the more organisations that take part, the better - in line with the 17th SDG, i.e. forging partnerships to achieve global sustainability goals.
Contact: Denis Machnik, Senior Manager and Co-Lead Climate Policy at adelphi