Sustainability assessment


Christian Schader

Christian Schader

Department of Socio-Economic Sciences
Coordinator sustainability
Ackerstrasse 113
CH-5070 Frick

Phone +41 (0)62 865-0416
Fax +41 (0)62 865-7273


Lukas Baumgart

Lukas Baumgart
(M.Sc. Organic Agricultural Sciences)

Department of Socio-Economic Sciences
Kasseler Straße 1a / Ackerstrasse 113
D-60486 Frankfurt / CH-5070 Frick

Phone +49 (0)69 7137699-88
Phone +41 (0)62 865-7240

Sustainability Monitoring and Assessment RouTine (SMART)

smart - sustainability monitoring and assessment routine

The Sustainability Monitoring and Assessment RouTine (SMART) is a tool for sustainability assessment of food companies. The structure of the tool is based on the Sustainability Assessment of Food and Agriculture Systems (SAFA) Guidelines of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO). Companies can use the results of this assessment for strategic development, internal improvement, monitoring, and communication to business partners, as well as to compare their sustainability performance with other companies.

SMART covers the full sphere of influence of the company (i.e. including primary producers and traders supplying raw materials for processors) and results can be shown for each step of the supply chain separately. The focus of SMART lies in performance and practices that can be associated with sustainability impacts: either directly or considering scientific literature.

Initial information for the assessment is taken from existing certification and auditing schemes if they are available. Furthermore, company-specific indicators are selected from the SMART database for the individual company, depending on the type and size of the company and on the specific purpose of the assessment (e.g. internal improvement, communication to business partners).

Farm level assessments are conducted with a special subtool, the SMART-Farm-TOOL. This tool allows a quick screening of the sustainability performance of farms. Depending on the size and type of a farm, 1 to 3 hours are needed for the assessment. Thus, a large number of farms can be covered.

The output of a SMART evaluation is a report which includes a score (0 to 100 percent) of each SAFA subtheme (e.g. biodiversity, water quality, employment). Furthermore, a justification of the scores is given for each subtheme. The justification of the scores can help the company to identify their specific options for improvement.

If the aim of the SMART evaluation is external communication of the results, quality requirements have to be met. For instance the full assessment results must be published rather than only single aspects such as climate change. Furthermore, as a quality check, the assessments are peer reviewed by an independent body. The procedure of this peer review is similar to that outlined in ISO 14040, which describes the principles and framework for life cycle assessments (LCA).

In October 2013, FiBL Switzerland, FiBL Germany and FiBL Austria jointly founded the Sustainable Food Systems Society GmbH. The purpose of this company is to assess the sustainability performance of companies and farms with SMART.

After completion of the pilot phase (March 2012 to September 2013), FiBL and the Sustainable Food Systems Society launched SMART on October 24, 2013 in Frankfurt, Germany.

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