Ecological, Social, and Economic Sustainability
To ensure the sustainability of various peat substitutes along their entire value chain, HORTICERT has developed seven principles that cover ecological, social, and economic aspects.
Each of the seven principles comprises different criteria, which are verified using corresponding indicators during the audits.
Principle 1: Protection of areas with high nature conservation value
Forests untouched by humans (so-called primary forests) and other protected areas must remain protected. Intact natural peatlands must not be drained for peat extraction or agricultural use.
Principle 2: Environmentally friendly production
Natural resources and biodiversity must always be considered in the production of goods. Soil, water and air must be protected, especially through appropriate agricultural practices that imply a low use of mineral fertilizers and chemical pesticides.
Principle 3: Climate change
To counteract climate change, certified companies must reduce their greenhouse gas emissions during the extraction of raw materials, transport, and production of substrates. In addition to switching to renewable energies, the regional origin of the raw materials plays an important role.
Principle 4: Human and labor rights
Certified farms must protect children, women, minorities, and other vulnerable groups and provide equal opportunities. Discrimination and forced labor are prohibited, and fair and safe working conditions must be provided.
Principle 5: Responsible community relations
Land and land use rights, especially of indigenous peoples, must be respected. In addition, certified companies must contribute to maintaining or improving their community’s rural and social development.
Principle 6: Legality
Certified operations worldwide must act within current local, national and international laws and regulations without corruption or bribery.
Principle 7: Economic stability and good management practices
Certified companies must be profitable and continuously improve their practices and operations. The traceability of goods along the entire supply chain must be guaranteed.
Development of the Sustainability Principles
The United Nation’s international Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were considered in the development of HORTICERT’s sustainability principles, criteria and indicators. The 17 SDGs include goals that contribute to climate and environmental protection, overcoming poverty, improving health and education, reducing inequality and facilitating economic growth.
In addition, the results of various risk analyses by different NGOs (Bodensee-Stiftung, Welthungerhilfe, Global Nature Fund) on different peat substitutes and regions were included in developing the sustainability requirements.
Existing guidelines and conventions — e.g., work by WWF on minimum requirements for certification systems for agricultural commodities, INRO, ILO conventions and the OECD Guidelines for the Promotion of Responsible Entrepreneurship of Multinational Enterprises — were considered.