RSB Principles & Criteria for Sustainable Biofuel Production

The Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels Principles & Criteria for Sustainable Biofuel Production is a set of guidelines for the best practices in biofuel feedstock and raw material production and for the production, transport, and use of biofuels themselves, with Version 0 being compiled in 2008, Version 1 being written in 2009, and Version 2, the current version, being approved in 2010.  The Principles & Criteria also set forth the standards and requirements that Feedstock Producers, Feedstock Processors, Biofuel Producers, and Biofuel Blenders must follow in order to be certified sustainable biofuel operations.


Goal: The goal of the Principles & Criteria is to serve as, “…the basis for a global stakeholder discussion around requirements for sustainable biofuels,” and to attempt to promote the use and production of sustainable biofuels, “…in conjunction with an increasing with an increasing awareness of the importance of efficient energy use to meet humanity’s needs.”


Relevant Clauses[1]


Principle 2: Planning, Monitoring and Continuous Improvement

Principle 2: Sustainable biofuel operations shall be planned, implemented, and continuously improved through an open, transparent, and consultative impact assessment and management process and an economic viability analysis.

Criterion 2c.  Biofuel operators shall implement a business plan that reflects a commitment to long-term economic viability.


Principle 3: Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Principle 3. Biofuels shall contribute to climate change mitigation by significantly reducing lifecycle GHG emissions as compared to fossil fuels.


Principle 4: Human and Labor Rights

Principle 4. Biofuel operations shall not violate human rights or labor rights, and shall promote decent work and the well-being of workers.

Criterion 4.a Workers shall enjoy freedom of association, the right to organize, and the right to collectively bargain

Criterion 4.b No slave labor or forced labor shall occur.

Criterion 4.c No child labor shall occur, except on family farms and then only when work does not interfere with the child’s schooling and does not put his or her health at risk.

Criterion 4.d Workers shall be free of discrimination of any kind, whether in employment or opportunity, with respect to gender, wages, working conditions, and social benefits.

Criterion 4e. Workers’ wages and working conditions shall respect all applicable laws and international conventions, as well as all relevant collective agreements.  Where a government regulated minimum wage is in place in a given country and applies to the specific industry sector, this shall be observed.  Where a minimum wage is absent, the wage paid for a particular activity shall be negotiated and agreed on an annual basis with the worker. Men and women shall receive equal remuneration for work of equal value.

Criterion 4.f Conditions of occupational safety and health for workers shall follow internationally-recognized standards.


Principle 5: Rural and Social Development

Principle 5. In regions of poverty, biofuel operations shall contribute to the social and economic development of local, rural an indigenous people and communities.


Principle 6: Local Food Security

Principle 6. Biofuel operations shall ensure the human right to adequate food security in food insecure regions.


Principle 7: Conservation

Principle 7. Biofuel operations shall avoid negative impacts on biodiversity, ecosystems, and conservation values.

Criterion 7.a Conservation values of local, regional or global importance within the potential or existing area of operation shall be maintained or enhanced.

Criterion 7.b Ecosystem functions and services that are directly affected by biofuel operations shall be maintained or enhanced.


Principle 8: Soil

Principle 8: Biofuel operations shall implement practices that seek to reverse soil degradation and/or maintain soil health.


Principle 9: Water

Principle 9. Biofuel operations shall maintain or enhance the quality and quantity of surface and ground water resources, and respect prior formal or customary water rights.

Criterion 9.a Biofuel operations shall respect the existing water rights of local and indigenous communities.

Criterion 9.c Biofuel operations shall not contribute to the depletion of surface or groundwater resources beyond replenishment capacities.

Criterion 9.d Biofuel operations shall contribute to the enhancement or maintaining of the quality of the surface and groundwater resources.


Principle 10: Air

Principle 10. Air pollution from biofuel operations shall be minimized along the supply chain.


Principle 12: Land Rights

Principle 12. Biofuel operations shall respect land rights and land use rights.

Criterion 12.a Existing land rights and land use rights, both formal and informal, shall be assessed, documented, and established.  The right to use land for biofuel operations shall be established only when these rights are determined.

Criterion 12.b Free, Prior, and Informed Consent shall form the basis for all negotiated agreements for any compensation, acquisition, or voluntary relinquishment of rights by land users or owners for biofuel operations.

12b.1 Minimum requirements

·         No involuntary resettlement shall be allowed for biofuel operations.

·         Where land rights and land use rights are voluntarily relinquished and/or acquired on a willing seller-willing buyer basis, local people shall be fairly, equitably and timely compensated.

·         Compensation for voluntary relinquishment and/or acquisition shall include appropriate balancing measures needed to preserve the ability of the persons concerned to sustain their livelihoods in an autonomous and dignified manner.

·         Coercion to alter existing land rights or land use rights shall not be allowed in biofuel operations.



[1]Rountable on Sustainable Biofuels  (2010).RSB Principles & Criteria for Sustainable Bioful Production. Retrieved October 16, 2013, from Rountable on Sustainable Biofuels:

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