AccountAbility’s latest research, commissioned by Oxfam Novib, examines how stakeholder and social issues located outside the production site can be incorporated into standards systems and the audit process to improve social outcomes. A number of organisations, including LRQA, were interviewed and participated in a workshop giving them an opportunity to provide their thoughts and feedback to Accountability and Oxfam Novib.
'Beyond the Farm Fence: Increasing the contribution of auditing to social development’ presents a series of constructive and practical recommendations that will improve standards governance and off-site auditing practices, in ways that will contribute to the lives of neighbouring communities. The paper aims to engage businesses, governments, standards bodies, auditors and NGOs who work in multi-stakeholder initiatives, particularly in agribusiness supply chains such as palm oil, biofuels and aquaculture.
The analytical framework for the report is based on AccountAbility’s Principles of Inclusivity, Materiality and Responsiveness. They have been used to provide a clear approach to understanding the current problems and potential for improvement.
The recommendations are designed to extend the boundaries of standards systems and audit practice beyond the farm fence; to encourage the focus on material issues and their prioritisation during the audit process; and to enhance the ability of standards and audits to enable performance improvements.
The recommendations are addressed to specific actors: standards bodies, certification bodies, NGOs and businesses.The paper will form the basis for ongoing discussion, diaogue and meaningful change for people living in poverty.