A report on the compliance of Rainforest Alliance’s Monitoring and Evaluation system with the requirements of the ISEAL Impacts Code, prepared and submitted to the ISEAL Secretariat by the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) and Rainforest Alliance
Over the past year the SAN/RA M&E System has made good advances in its continued path towards full compliance to the ISEAL Impacts Code. The fundamentals of the system remain strong with a sound theory of change and a corresponding tiered approach to monitoring and evaluation (performance monitoring and impact evaluation). Despite a recent decrease in the capacity of RA’s Evaluation & Research (E&R) Program there remains a dedicated team, both in E&R and in the SAN Management Unit, to maintain and advance its development. Roles and responsibilities of key staff have been adjusted in order to remain responsive to needs and priorities over the coming year.
The most notable advances in the past year relate to data collection and quality control, and data management. In 2014, a SAN/RA technical team worked together on a set of protocols and accompanying guidelines to better embed the data requirements for both the Global Indicators and a subset of ISEAL’s Common Indicators into the certification application and annual audit processes. The purpose was to mitigate previous views from Certification Bodies (CBs) and auditors that even the most basic data for monitoring and evaluation came at an additional cost and burden. Incorporating this data collection as part of the audit planning process has allowed us to meet the dual objective of improving the integrity of the audit process and gathering key information for system-wide monitoring and evaluation, all the while not increasing the time and cost of audits. In line with this has been changes in data management. Modifications have been made to the SAN Certificate Database (SCD) in order to store new data collected and verified through this audit planning and implementation. Operations currently certified are required to submit to CBs these new data requirements by June 2015. For new certificate applicants the requirements have been effective since February 2015. Starting FY2016, a more standardized and consistent approach to evaluating and reporting on the Global Indicators and ISEAL Common Indicators will begin.
Planned developments in the coming year include further building and fine-tuning quality control procedures into the audit planning and implementation processes and the SCD architecture. Also planned is the completion of custom, routine reports built into the SCD to more efficiently facilitate quarterly analytics and reporting on the indicators. Finally, 2015 will see the completion and publication of the first comprehensive annual SAN/RA M&E report.