Tony’s Chocolonely claims its chocolate is 100 % slave free. DHL aims for zero emissions by 2050. Bosch plans to be carbon neutral by 2020. Anheuser-Busch InBev has said it is the world’s most water-efficient brewer. As a consumer, investor or business partner, how do you know these claims are correct and realistic? The new ISO/IEC 17029 provides requirements for independent verification and validation.
Post-truth society or not: mechanisms to ensure the validity of claims are crucial to the trust we place in brands, companies and institutions. Back in 2006, ISO published the ISO 14064-3 standard, which specifies requirement for the independent validation and verification of claims related to the emission of greenhouse gases. While this standard has been hugely successful, it has also become increasingly clear that we need a common framework for validation and verification of other types of claims, such as environmental claims, ethical claims, and comparative claims.
This is where the new standard ISO/IEC 17029 comes into play: it provides requirements for the validation/verification bodies. It describes how verifiers can avoid conflict of interest, ensure the competence of the verifiers and express conclusions.
Scope of the Validation and Verification Services
Verification and/or validation by an independent third-party such as DQS provides assurance to clients, consumers, investors and shareholders that the reported information, figures, or claims are accurate and trustworthy. Typical cases of independent verification include:
- Verification of ethical claims: claims regarding ethical products and ethical services (e.g. slave-free, no child labor, fair trade, …). Guidelines for ethical claims are covered in ISO/TS 17033.
- Validation of due diligence approaches: validation of human rights due diligence, IT security due diligence, anti-corruption, etc
- Verification of Sustainability Reports: third-party assurance on sustainability reports, using frameworks such as the AA1000 standards and the Global Reporting Initiative
- Environmental claims: Validation and verification of self-declared environmental claims, as covered by ISO 14021.
- Verification of ESG data, such as carbon footprints(ISO 14064, ISO 14067), water footprints (ISO 14046), Lifecycle Assessments (ISO 14044) or other performance indicators.
- Verification of green and climate bonds: DQS is an approved verifier of the Climate Bonds Initiative.
What is the difference between verification and validation?
The ISO/IEC 17029 clearly distinguishes validation and verification. Let’s take a closer look at the definitions:
Verification: confirmation of a claim, through the provision of objective evidence, that specified requirements have been fulfilled
Validation:confirmation of a claim, through the provision of objective evidence, that the requirements for a specific intended use or application have been fulfilled
As you can see, the definitions are almost identical. The key is the word “intended” in the definition of validation: validation is applied to claims regarding an intended future, based on projected information. Verification, by contrast, looks towards the past, at what has already happened.
Let’s look at a practical example: if a company claims that the use of their product will enable you to reduce your water footprint by 50 %, this is a claim that can be validated. If, by contrast, a company claims that it has reduced its water footprint by 50 %, this can be verified.
How is this different from certification and inspection?
Validation and verification as defined by ISO/IEC 17029 are different from certification and inspection. Inspection focuses on examination; certification is an attestation of conformity with a standard or specification. Above all, the intended use and benefits are different: whereas certification and inspection focus on conformity, validation and verification take the claims of individual organizations as their starting point. This enables organizations to highlight their own strengths and achievements, rather than merely conform to industry standards.
What DQS can do to help your Organization
As one of the leading certification, verification and validation bodies in the world, we help our clients gain and maintain the trust of consumers and business partners. With qualified assessors across the globe, we are ready to assist wherever you need. Contact us to discuss your projects or sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.