Making data work smarter

FSC works with ISEAL and other ISEAL members to develop an information and data standard for sustainability. This work is supported by the ISEAL Innovations Fund, which is supported by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO.

FSC Data Standard
FSC IC / Phil Sharp.

Making data work harder: developing a common language of sustainability

Today, most of the data and information held by sustainability systems is inaccessible, siloed and not effectively informing decisions by key stakeholders. A lack of shared terminologies prevents many potential new allies from fully understanding and supporting the sustainability movement’s powerful goals.

In 2019, FSC in association with ISEAL set out to address the challenge of improving the flow of data and information enabling the community to utilize these rich and valuable resources to their full extent. Over a three year period FSC worked jointly with ISEAL and other ISEAL members to codify a shared language based on the shared concepts of: certificate holders, certified sites, location coordinates, audit dates, indicators of compliance, publications, normative frameworks, etc.

Several pilots demonstrated that ISEAL Members can use the metadata set to combine data to gain a clearer picture of risks in specific regions or supply chains. Consultation with stakeholders (including researchers, companies, producers) helped to make sure that the metadata set is aligned with other frameworks, paving the way for important collaborations.

As of March 2022 the data set, known as the ISEAL Core Metadata Set is comprised of 155 data elements grouped into three clusters associated with ISEAL members workflows and business concept.

  • The ’Global Cluster’ contains metadata elements likely to apply to any type of digital asset such as databases, normative documents, research reports, images, and more.
  • The ‘Certification Cluster’ contains metadata elements associated with different aspects of sustainability systems’ verification and assurance processes. 
  • The ‘Impact Cluster’ contains metadata elements associated with efforts to measure results and outcomes of certification and other similar approaches to sustainability

The ISEAL Core Metadata Set is publicly accessible on GitHub.


At FSC we are proud to have invested in the journey of unleashing the power of data and information for the sustainability community and we are committed to supporting the efforts of ISEAL as they manage this important community asset moving forward.

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The project was made possible by a grant from the ISEAL Innovations Fund, which is supported by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO:


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