RSB Principles and Criteria (version 0)

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Bioenergy > Standards > RSB > "RSB Principles and Criteria (version 0)

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The Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels
Note: This RSB-related page is not actively updated.
For up-to-date information on the RSB, see the BioenergyWiki RSB page or the RSB Website

The RSB has released "Version 2.0" of the "Principles on Sustainable Biofuel Production"
Read more about the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels.
The Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels

"Version Zero" is the draft of the "Global principles and criteria for sustainable biofuels production" issued 13 August 2008 by the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels. This version of the draft principles will form the basis of a six-month period of wide-ranging stakeholder comment in preparation for the release of the first official standards in early 2009.

--To leave a comment, please use the Version Zero Discussion/Talk page or click on the topic of interest (headings below) for specific discussion pages. You can also send your comments by email to the RSB Secretariat

--Download the RSB Standards "Version Zero" (PDF file). (To download "Version Zero" in French, Spanish or Portuguese, please click here.)

RSB principles
and criteria (Version 0)

Quick links to each principle
and its associated discussion page:
  1. Legality (Discussion)
  2. Consultation (Discussion)
  3. Climate change (Discussion)
  4. Human & labor rights (Discussion)
  5. Rural & social development (Discussion)
  6. Food security (Discussion)
  7. Conservation (Discussion)
  8. Soil (Discussion)
  9. Water (Discussion)
  10. Air (Discussion)
  11. Technologies, etc. (Discussion )
  12. Land rights (Discussion)


1. Biofuel production shall follow all applicable laws of the country in which they occur, and shall endeavour to follow all international treaties relevant to biofuels’ production to which the relevant country is a party.
Key guidance: Includes laws and treaties relating to air quality, water resources, soil conservation, protected areas, biodiversity, labor conditions, agricultural practices, and land rights, including for instance ILO, CBD, UNFCCC, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This standard can go beyond national law, but cannot contradict or contravene national law.

Consultation, Planning and Monitoring

2. Biofuels projects shall be designed and operated under appropriate, comprehensive, transparent, consultative, and participatory processes that involve all relevant stakeholders.
Key guidance: ‘Biofuel projects’ refers to farms and factories producing biofuels. The intent of this principle is to diffuse conflict situations through an open, transparent process of stakeholder consultation and acceptance, with the scale of consultation proportionate to the scale, scope, and stage of the project, and any potential conflicts. The RSB will develop a scoping process to help determine the extent of the stakeholder consultation based on key criteria. Where many farmers are engaging in the same activity in the same area, there should be flexibility for a group of farmers to combine their work.

Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas

3. Biofuels shall contribute to climate change mitigation by significantly reducing GHG emissions as compared to fossil fuels.
Key guidance: The aim of this principle is to establish an acceptable standard methodology for comparing the GHG benefits of different biofuels in a way that can be written into regulations and enforced in standards. The overriding requirement is therefore a methodology that is not susceptible to subjective assumptions or manipulation. The fossil fuel reference shall be global, based on IEA projections of fossil fuel mixes.

Human and labor rights

4. Biofuel production shall not violate human rights or labor rights, and shall ensure decent work and the well-being of workers.
Key guidance: Key international conventions such as the ILO’s core labor conventions and the UN Declaration on Human Rights shall form the basis for this principle. Employees, contracted labour, small outgrowers, and employees of outgrowers shall all be accorded the rights described below. ‘Decent work’, as defined by the ILO, will be the aspirational goal for this principle.

Rural and social development

5. Biofuel production shall contribute to the social and economic development of local, rural and indigenous peoples and communities.

Food security

6. Biofuel production shall not impair food security.


7. Biofuel production shall avoid negative impacts on biodiversity, ecosystems, and areas of High Conservation Value.
Key guidance: HCV areas, native ecosystems, ecological corridors and public and private biological conservation areas can only be exploited as far as conservation values are left intact and can in no case be converted. Definitions of these terms and an appropriate cut-off date will be developed by the RSB.


8. Biofuel production shall promote practices that seek to improve soil health and minimize degradation.


9. Biofuel production shall optimize surface and groundwater resource use, including minimizing contamination or depletion of these resources, and shall not violate existing formal and customary water rights.


10. Air pollution from biofuel production and processing shall be minimized along the supply chain.

Economic efficiency, technology, and continuous improvement

11. Biofuels shall be produced in the most cost-effective way. The use of technology must improve production efficiency and social and environmental performance in all stages of the biofuel value chain.

Land Rights

12. Biofuel production shall not violate land rights.

                        Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels edit
RSB Public Consultation
RSB sustainability criteria: Version 2.0
RSB working groups: Greenhouse Gases (GHG WG) Environment (ENV WG) | Implementation (IMP WG)
Social Impacts (SOC WG)
RSB launch press release | RSB Intro to Feedback Mechanisms | Commenting on RSB Drafts Using the BioenergyWiki (PDF)
RSB outreach in the Americas | RSB Current Debate on Land Use
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