Sustainable Certification Body WSO Launches Online Audits To Curb Emissions Amid Coronavirus

3 Mins Read

World Sustainability Organisation (WSO), the NGO behind the leading global sustainability certification standards Friend of the Earth and Friend of the Sea, has just created a new auditing format that is entirely online. Prompted by the health concerns of auditors during the current coronavirus pandemic, the body has created the Sustainable Augmented Reality Audit (SARA), which according to the organisation, will save both emissions and ensure the safety and reliability of audits. 

The WSO, the body behind Friend of the Earth and Friend of the Sea certification standards, and most recently launched a Sustainable Fashion logo, has just introduced a 100% online auditing procedure. The body says that the plans to move their activities online has been in place for a few months, but it has since expanded their virtual operations to their audits due to the current coronavirus pandemic. 

On Wednesday (March 11), the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the Covid-19 a pandemic, and as of press time the virus has infected nearly 181,000 people and killed over 7,000 people globally. Since the rates of infections and deaths in Italy have spiked over the past days and weeks, the Friend of the Sea – whose headquarters are located in Milan – has implemented work-from-home measures to protect the safety and health of staff. 

“The coronavirus outbreak experience led us to introduce an additional major innovation, perfectly matching our online strategy. We realised that it does not make sense anymore to carry out onsite audits. They are unsustainable, dangerous and unreliable,” explained Paolo Bray, the NGO’s founder and director. 

By introducing the new Sustainable Augmented Reality Audit (SARA), the organisation hopes to cut down emissions and decrease the health risk that auditors face. The new procedure will allow qualified auditors to carry the onsite inspection from a control panel and record a complete video of the audit, which is saved using blockchain technology to prevent any possible editing and ensure the reliability of the inspection. 

“This way, we are saving tons of emissions, improving auditors’ health and safety, and providing customers with verifiable audits,” Bray said. 

The organisation’s other activities will also be brought into the virtual world, such as holding online webinars instead of onsite events, and avoiding travel across long distances unless absolutely necessary. With global transport accounting for 14% of greenhouse gas emissions, moving the need to travel will reduce the environmental impact of the organisation’s audits, and will additionally help optimise time and lower costs.

WSO’s move follows the footsteps of environmental and climate campaigners who are calling on authorities and businesses to use the “window of opportunity” posed by the coronavirus outbreak to tackle the urgent planetary crisis of climate change. Climate action group and the global energy watchdog IEA, for instance, are urging governments to take the same swift response to climate change that they have shown to coronavirus, and to use the planned stimulus packages to help sustain the much-needed global clean energy transition. 

Similarly, top trend forecaster Li Edelkoort recently said that the coronavirus is causing a “quarantine of consumption” that will help bring about a more environmentally-friendly global system. 

Lead image courtesy of Reality Matters.


  • Sally Ho

    Sally Ho is Green Queen's former resident writer and lead reporter. Passionate about the environment, social issues and health, she is always looking into the latest climate stories in Hong Kong and beyond. A long-time vegan, she also hopes to promote healthy and plant-based lifestyle choices in Asia. Sally has a background in Politics and International Relations from her studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

You might also like