Remote audits to protect workers and environment

Auditing to verify sustainability is key to control progress on topics ranging from environmental sustainability to worker safety and even food safety. The COVID-19 pandemic has far reaching impact on agricultural sectors across the globe, also on the verification of sustainability, with auditing for example being stopped entirely for between two and six months across the African continent.

To prepare sustainability standards to continue their verification when access on the ground is not possible both now and in the future, IDH works with ISEAL in a project to ensure that sustainability assurance can continue to operate credibly and effectively under crisis conditions.

Between September and December 2020, ISEAL has mapped out best practices for remote auditing, derived insights from ISEAL’s Community of Practice, performed background research, and held interviews with standards and companies to get a better sense of their expectations around remote auditing. This first and investigative phase of the project has led to a practical guide to support standards in making decisions about when remote auditing practices are appropriate and desirable, and how to use new technology and data to operationalize that choice.

From ad-hoc responses to future-proof solutions – Defining an aligned way of working for standards

Insights from the first phase are now being fed into the next phase, in which ISEAL will support community members and their partners experimenting with new techniques and approaches and on bringing these learnings together into a good practice guide by summer 2021.

Through this project, ISEAL and IDH will identify how remote auditing techniques can be taken up by standards systematically in the future, to make systems more efficient and more cost-effective, whilst strengthening their reliability. A desired outcome is for sustainability standards and assurance partners to have a shared understanding of best practices for integrating remote auditing techniques into their assurance systems and have translated these into their operating procedures.

For more information on the remote auditing project and its deliverables or upcoming workshops please visit