Creating the business case for certification

WWF

Recent years have seen a growth in the desire to make the ‘business case’ for sustainable business practices to key decision-makers.  This has been accompanied by the trend in policymakers and NGOs seeing the private sector as a key partner for delivering change and so wanting to speak in a language that they can relate to. WWF commissioned 3Keel to write an accessible yet comprehensive guide to creating the ‘business case’ for credible certification and better management practices (BMPs) in the production of agricultural, forestry and fish commodities, building on approaches developed by WWF and partners in several related studies.

As a business case can be used in a wide variety of situations, and must be adapted afresh to individual requirements and constraints, the document takes the form of a framework and set of tools that can be applied with different audiences in mind e.g. primary producers, buyers, financial institutions and policymakers. It provides an introduction to the concept of a ‘business case’, identifies a variety of analytical approaches that are useful in different contexts (e.g. and Net Present Value) and gives recommendations on communicating the final output.

One of the key insights from the research was that, while the general principles of making an argument for the commercial benefits of sustainable production are the same as for any other business case, there are important differences that need taking into account when scoping, undertaking and communicating this sort of analysis. Benefits from credible certification and BMPs, while significant, can be ‘intangible’, difficult to quantify, longer-term and may ultimately have a strong ‘moral’ case underpinning them that shouldn’t be discounted.

Ultimately, creating and communicating a business case requires elements of the ‘science’ of analysis and the ‘art’ of framing and communicating compelling arguments. Becoming smarter about communicating the business case for sustainability – and in particular sustainable primary production – will continue to be a major focus for the sector and we hope this guidance document will be a useful contribution to these global efforts.

The guidance can be downloaded from WWF's web page or from the link below.

 

Project lead

Richard Sheane

Ultimately, creating and communicating a business case requires elements of the ‘science’ of analysis and the ‘art’ of framing and communicating compelling arguments.