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SKAO publishes new Handbook: 'unanimous decision'

15-06-2020

SKAO publishes new Handbook: 'unanimous decision'

Handbook 3.1, the successor to Handbook 3.0, will be published on 22 June. SKAO interviews members of the Central Board of Experts (CCvD) about the creation of the new Handbook. Harald Versteeg (independent chairman), Maud Vastbinder (project leader Handbook 3.1) and Tijmen de Groot (secretary) have their say. Why has a new manual been published and how do you get support from so many parties?

What do you discuss during a CCvD meeting? Can you outline a meeting?

Tijmen: "The Central Board of Experts (CCvD) consists of stakeholders from the CO2 Performance Ladder. These are market parties, contracting authorities and NGOs. It is the operational manager of the Ladder, responsible for keeping the certification scheme up-to-date and functions as a contact point for the Certifying Bodies. The CCvD makes the amendment decisions about the Manual. That is why we meet five times a year for a meeting of three and a half hours. After a round of announcements, the adoption of the previous report and the follow-up of action points, we will continue to discuss the themes in the Handbook. How can we improve a specific theme or text? The aim is that everyone has carefully read the pieces in advance and where necessary shared them with the supporters. That way we can start the discussion. "The meetings are chaired by Harald and Tijmen himself acts as secretary.


Can those discussions be heated?

Maud: "Yes, those discussions can be heated. There is a lot of space to vent your opinion. But in the end we choose a certain direction or solution, which everyone agrees with. And to get there we sometimes talk about a certain topic ten times. "Tijmen confirms that discussions can take a long time. "That's because every perspective is looked at. Sometimes quite a challenge." Harald: "But we really do it together. We now know where everyone's sensitivities lie and everyone strives for consensus." Maud: "We let all stakeholders think along and provide input. No changes in Handbook 3.1 have been established without testing the users of our standard. As a result, there is such great support for the changes. The Handbook has therefore been unanimously adopted, without voting."


"We let all stakeholders think along and provide input. No changes in Handbook 3.1 have been established without testing the users of our standard. As a result, ther is such great support for the changes."


Why was it necessary to publish a new manual?

Maud: "Handbook 3.0 was published in 2015. That manual was rock solid and differed fundamentally from its predecessor: we had removed all teething problems. But from 2015 onwards, a new reality emerged and new ambitions arose. Over time, you wonder if the existing handbook is still working properly and if it still serves the right purpose." Maud says that since then studies have been done on specific elements of the handbook. There are also annual customer satisfaction surveys, so that certificate holders who do not have a seat in the CCvD can also provide input. And it showed that it was time for some changes again." Harald explains that real-life situations have also given cause to want to clarify certain points in Handbook 3.1. "Sometimes we really thought 'this can't be true', when what we meant in the Handbook turned out very differently in practice. Then we thought "is it the auditor, or is it us? Have we not formulated the explanatory note sharply enough?"" Maud joins in by indicating that the CCvD has tried to make clarification in the past by adding sentences, and that it has now been decided to delete sentences. Not least because, according to the studies, there was a demand for a more efficient Manual. Maud: "If you are describing what is not allowed, you will be a hundred lines away. Now we have only put down what is allowed, and it is up to the Certifying Body (CI) to act properly on that. "And what happened in all those situations in which the previous manual was understood differently than intended? Tijmen explains that interpretation issues are decided by the Technical Committee (TC). Those statements are called harmonization decisions. Tijmen: "those thirty decisions have all been incorporated in Handbook 3.1. So that is already thirty ambiguities less."


We are going from Manual 3.0 to 3.1. Why not to 4.0?

Harald: "Some issues really needed to be addressed in the short term, because the studies showed that there was a lot of demand for them. Many more conversations would be needed for fundamental matters. We did not want to wait to implement some points." Maud continues: "So we have not changed the requirements ourselves. We have only amended the explanation to those requirements. With minimal changes in content, we will be making a leap forward in terms of impact." Harald: "That's right. We did not change the system, but made it more workable. Organizations that were already well on their way will not notice much of the changes. But for organizations that were on the verge, the new handbook is just a bit sharper."


How do you see the future of the CO2 Performance Ladder?

Tijmen: "The signals we receive from practice remain leading. And there we also have an expectation to live up to. So many organizations are working with the Ladder. The Ladder must remain or become applicable for all those different organizations." According to Harald, the CO2 Performance Ladder is in principle generic for all kinds of organizations, but in the beginning the arrows were mainly aimed at the construction sector. According to him, in order to better reach other sectors, it is necessary to report on other greenhouse gases in addition to CO2 in a next version of the manual. All these greenhouse gases can be expressed in CO2, so-called CO2 equivalents. "That is important, because other greenhouse gases are released in other sectors. Think of methane in intensive livestock farming or water purification. If an organization wants to contribute to climate objectives, these emissions must also be included." Maud can already give away that this is the last manual in which these CO2 equivalents are not included. Circularity will probably also play a greater role in a subsequent manual. As far as Harald is concerned, an organization can only be judged as an ambitious organization in the future if it has a strategy that works towards the Paris goals (CO2 neutrality). "Is an organization on track to be climate neutral? Does it look beyond its own emissions and does it work with customers and suppliers to achieve joint reductions in the chain? It should go that way with the Ladder. "

Handbook 3.1 can be downloaded from 22 June. Read more about the CCvD here.