ISEAL is the global membership organisation for credible sustainability standards. 2013, ISEAL published the Credibility Principles following a global consultation with contributions from more than 400 stakeholders. The Credibility Principles are ten core principles that represent a common understanding of what is essential for a standard system to deliver impact and are a reference point for companies, governments and NGOs when assessing or benchmarking standards systems and related tools.

© Forest Stewardship Council, Milan Reíka

Implemented in

  • Africa
  • Asia / Pacific
  • Europe and Central Asia
  • Latin America / Caribbean
  • Middle East
  • North America

Sectors of activity
Agricultural and Fishery, Water, Forestry

Type of initiative
Capacity Building & Implementation, Policy Frameworks & Tools, Other

Start date


The Credibility Principles define and communicate the core values of credible and effective sustainability systems and thus improve the achievement of sustainability impacts. They fulfil a number of complementary functions including:

- Aid users of standards systems (such as producers, procurement officials, companies, NGOs, and financiers) in determining the relative credibility and effectiveness of the standards systems with which they are engaging.
- Provide a powerful communications tool that will build greater stakeholder understanding of what makes a credible and effective standard.
- Provide an aspirational framework for standards systems to improve their knowledge and, thus, their ability to deliver sustainability improvements.
- Inform sourcing decisions that favour entities that comply with credible and effective sustainability standards.
- Distinguish good practice from good marketing – ensure standards systems and users are accountable for the claims they make, and that claims are backed up by substance.


As collected through the One Planet Reporting

No activities have yet been reported under this initiative

Impact and Results

The ISEAL Credibility Principles apply to all standards systems that focus on sustainability performance and that incorporate a standard and a mechanism for assuring compliance with that standard. The principles are applied to the entire standard system, including standard setting, capacity building, assurance, labelling and monitoring. The integration of these principles increases the likelihood that a standard system will achieve its intended positive social, environmental and economic impacts.

Next steps and how to get involved

We encourage everyone with an interest in what credible practices look like for sustainability standards and similar systems, to participate in the stakeholder consultations on the ISEAL Credibility Principles revision, which are open until 31 July 2020.