Public Summary of PwC’s Certification and Greenhouse Gas Verification Programs

Accreditation

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Canada is accredited under ISO 17021-1:2015, ISO 17065:2012, ISO 14065:2013 and FSC-STD-20-011 (V4-0) to the deliver certification and greenhouse gas verification services under the following Standard schemes:

Standard

Accreditation Body

ISO 9001 Quality Management System Standard (https://www.iso.org/iso-9001-quality-management.html)

Standards Council of Canada (SCC) (https://www.scc.ca/)

ISO 14001 Environmental Management System Standard (https://www.iso.org/iso-14001-environmental-management.html)

Standards Council of Canada (SCC) (https://www.scc.ca/)

Programme for the Endorsement of Forest CertificationTM (PEFCTM) Chain of Custody Standard (http://www.pefc.org/)

Standards Council of Canada (SCC) (https://www.scc.ca/)

Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) Chain of Custody, Forest Management and Fiber Sourcing Standards (http://www.sfiprogram.org/sfi-standard/)

Standards Council of Canada (SCC) (https://www.scc.ca/)

American Tree Farm System® (ATFS®) Forest Management Standard (https://www.treefarmsystem.org/)

Standards Council of Canada (SCC) (https://www.scc.ca/)

CAN/CSA Z809 Forest Management Standard (http://www.csasfmforests.ca)

Standards Council of Canada (SCC) (https://www.scc.ca/)

Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) Chain of Custody and Controlled Wood Standards (https://ic.fsc.org/en/certification)

Accreditation Services International (ASI) (http://www.accreditation-services.com/s/

ISO 14064 Parts 1, 2, and 3 Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Accounting and Verification (https://www.iso.org/iso-14001-environmental-management.html)

American National Standards Institute (ANSI) (https://www.ansi.org/

PwC also provides unaccredited certification under the same program as the accredited certification program noted below for occupational health and safety, and information security programs:

  • ISO 45001 – This is an international occupational health and safety (OH&S) management standard that enables an organization to manage its OH&S risks and improve its OH&S performance.
  • ISO 27001 – This is an international information security management systems standard that enables an organization to manage its information security risks and improve its informational security performance.

Certification Program

The PwC Certification Program consists of four stages:

Application/Engagement

Upon requesting information related to our certification and verification services, a potential client will be sent an application form and or we will request a description of their organisation and business structure, the standard(s) they wish to be certified to and the scope of the certification(s) at minimum. PwC will conduct an independence check and risk evaluation to review impartiality, to safeguard against conflicts of interest and develop a risk profile prior to issuing a proposal and fee quote. If the prospective client is found to pose a risk to PwC’s impartiality or poses a conflict of interest or business risk to PwC (e.g. financial, reputational, legal, etc.) then PwC will advise the client and may refuse to provide a quote to the organisation.

PwC will take into consideration the following when evaluating a prospective client:

  • Any possible relationship concerns or possible conflicts with other services we are providing to the entity;
  • Any possible questions or concerns over the reputation, character, or integrity of the prospective client’s management and/or owners that would preclude our acceptance;
  • Any questions about the prospective client’s viability or business risks that would increase PwC’s risk of being associated with the client;
  • Any evidence that key management may place undue pressure or influence over an engagement; and
  • If the business that the prospective client is involved in presents a risk for PwC regarding the association with such a business.

When the client indicates they are ready to proceed with the certification, we will initiate the engagement process, which includes our client acceptance process and the preparation of a formal engagement letter for signature. All documents are retained electronically in the client’s file.

PwC charges fees for the scope of certification services agreed to with each client. PwC may also collect fees on behalf of standards bodies such as FSC, PEFC and SFI.

Certification Assessment

The Certification Assessment process is depicted in the following flow chart and includes five phases: strategic assessment planning, detailed planning, fieldwork, reporting, and action plan/follow-up. Each phase is described in more detail below.

Assessment Phase 1: Strategic Assessment Planning

A planning meeting conference call will be held to determine the final assessment details and itinerary and will occur prior to the on-site assessment. As part of our assessment process, the PwC assessment team may request required documentation 2 to 3 weeks prior to the on-site assessment. Our planning process may also include gathering the following information to enable testing on a sample basis during the assessment:

  • The requirements of the standard(s). We also review and discuss, logistics, regional issues, working hours/shift changes and regulatory requirements as an example. We then customize the assessment protocols as appropriate.
  • Access or a copy of the organization’s Management System(s).
  • Either supplier assertions or supplier Chain of Custody (CoC) claims relied upon by the organization.

The evaluation of conformance with these requirements involves an assessment of office and facility activities. As a final step in the Strategic Assessment Planning Phase, we identify independent, qualified and competent assessment team members and the lead auditor. Where we utilize external expertise we evaluate their technical experience, regional knowledge and assessment experience, conduct reference checks and confirm their independence from the operation to be assessed.

Assessment Phase 2: Detailed Planning

The key to success of any assessment is careful planning, including the assessment sample and logistics. The objectives of the detailed planning phase include:

  • Confirming the assessment process, objectives, team and reporting format
  • Confirming the Standard(s) requirements prior to the assessment
  • Discussing documentation requirements
  • Identifying and discussing any key operational issues including the scope of the Management System
  • Conducting a risk assessment
  • Selecting the sample
  • Addressing logistical and administrative requirements.

In order to meet the compliance Standards that govern our work, we select a representative sample of operations to review from both an office planning/management and field performance perspective. The process for developing the field assessment includes a risk assessment of operations conducted through discussions with the client and other sources, combined with an evaluation of relevant documents. Risk issues identified during the planning process may include:

  • Fibre received from suppliers, both domestic and offshore
  • Claims made by suppliers
  • Internal audit results
  • Stakeholder concerns or complaints
  • Organization changes
  • Shut downs/turnaround
  • Known regional/local risks

A planning memorandum is prepared after the planning process, which includes documentation of the planned assessment activities, team, scope, detailed schedule and logistics amongst other relevant information for the client. A copy of a Planning Memo is provided to the client and a signed copy must be returned prior to the start of the assessment to confirm the assessment.

Assessment Phase 3 - Document Review and On-Site Assessment

Our Assessments can be classified as Initial Assessments, Maintenance Assessments (for Year 1 (A1), Year 2 (A2), and subsequent years), and Re-certification Assessments (RA).

Initial Assessments consist of two Stages. Stage 1 - Document Readiness Review (DRR) and Stage 2 - On-site Implementation Assessment (IA). 

Stage 1 – Document Readiness Review (DRR)

The Stage 1 - Document Readiness Review (DRR) is typically conducted at the client site to determine the readiness of the organization’s Management System to proceed to the Stage 2 On-site Implementation Assessment. The activities include reviewing the Management System documented information, evaluating the organization’s site-specific conditions, and interviews with key personnel. 

PwC Auditors will assess the Management System to understand its context, scope and confirm that goals, objectives, key performance indicators, significant aspects, hazards and risks as required by the applicable Standard(s) have been established. Auditors will review the Management System documentation and obtain information on the organization’s processes and operations, the levels of control that have been established as well as any applicable statutory or regulatory requirements. 

In addition, PwC Auditors will confirm that the organization’s Management System has completed their internal audits and management review, and implemented the corrective action process to demonstrate that the Management System has gone through its Plan Do Check Act (PDCA) cycle to understand the level of implementation of the Management System and determine if they are ready to proceed to the Stage 2 - On-site Implementation Assessment.

PwC will issue findings as appropriate.

Stage 2 – On-site Implementation Assessment (IA)

The Stage 2 – On-site Implementation Assessment (IA) is intended to evaluate the implementation and effectiveness of the organization’s Management System(s). The Stage 2 IA may not proceed until any nonconformities identified as part of the DRR have been closed by PwC.

During this assessment, PwC will need to determine the degree of conformance with the Standard’s requirements, and report any non-conformities or potential non-conformities that the organization will have to correct before the registration certificate can be issued. In addition, opportunities for improvement will also be shared with the client. If the Stage 2 IA is successful, the organization’s Management System(s) will be recommended for certification by the PwC assessment team. The Stage 2 assessment includes but is not limited to:

  • Reviewing all relevant documented information that supports the Management System’s conformity with all the applicable Standard requirements including context and risk
  • Assessing key performance objectives and targets, looking at performance monitoring, measuring and reporting
  • Evaluating internal audits, management review and management responsibility for the organization’s policies
  • Reviewing all relevant processes, looking at operational controls and the ability to carry them out as planned.

Maintenance Assessments (A1, A2, etc.)

Ongoing annual Maintenance Assessments (A1, A2, etc.) are required by all of the Standards and may focus on specific elements of the Management System. Maintenance Assessments usually require less time to complete than the Initial and Re-certification assessments where they are a limited sample. The Maintenance Assessment is intended to:

  • Establish if the Management System continues to operate, be effective and conforms to the applicable Standard(s)
  • Check that internal audits and management reviews are being conducted
  • Check that continual improvement is being achieved
  • Check on any areas of concern, opportunities for improvement, or that previous nonconformities have been implemented and are effective.

Re-certification Assessments (RA)

Re-certification Assessments (RA) are required to commence a new registration/certification cycle and are based on the previous cycle’s performance. They typically take less time than the Initial Assessment but more than a Maintenance Assessment. The anticipation is that the organization’s Management System continues to improve and mature with every cycle. PwC will take the organization’s performance over the past cycle into consideration when determining the time required to complete the assessment. All elements of the Standard(s) need to be tested in this Assessment.

Assessments for verification, Management Systems and product certification processes are tested through a process of reviewing documented evidence such as policies, data, and reports, and observations of activities including interviews with relevant employees and contractors as defined in the Detailed Planning documents.

All Assessments commence with an opening meeting where the lead auditor confirms the assessment objectives, scope, schedule, and logistics, among other topics. In the field, the assessment team confirms operational compliance to the applicable requirements at the organization’s facilities, the organization’s programs designed to implement the process, and internal policies as defined in the Detailed Planning documents. A de-briefing meeting is held after each day or as planned to review observations and allow for further discussion or clarification.

Our assessment protocols are designed so that the requirements of the applicable Standard(s) are thoroughly reviewed by the assessment team from different perspectives. This facilitates thorough discussion of any issues and enables the PwC team to reach consensus on conformance with the applicable Standard(s) and the Management System effectiveness.

A closing meeting will be held on the final day of the assessment, at which time a written or verbal draft of any findings identified will be reviewed and discussed.

Our working relationship with all of our clients is of paramount importance to PwC. With regard to our process for dispute resolution, we believe that our client relationship and accountability begins with our assessment teams. Our assessment teams will de-brief with the client on a routine basis to avoid any surprises and if any technical concerns/disagreements arise, they are discussed, reviewed, and investigated internally as necessary by PwC to achieve acceptable resolution at the operational level. The Engagement Partner is available for further discussion as necessary, including initiation of PwC’s formal appeal procedures.

Assessment Phase 4: Reporting

The following deliverables will be produced by PwC:

  • A Certificate of Registration to the applicable standard(s) – issued for a 3- or 5-year cycle depending on the Standard.
  • A Continual Improvement Report (“Report”) - will identify any findings identified during the assessment (classified as opportunities for improvement and/or minor or major nonconformities). The Report is intended for the client’s internal use, once finalized the distribution of the Report is limited to the client’s management and/or the Board of Directors. Distribution of PwC Reports must be requested and approved in writing prior to distribution with third parties.

The deliverables will not be finalized until PwC’s Quality Review Process has been completed and the Practice Leader has made the certification decision and/or applicable internal PwC reviews have been completed.

Assessment Phase 5: Action Plan/Follow-up

Our responsibility includes delivery of Report(s) and a Certificate. Responsibility for action plan development, implementation and follow-up in response to findings identified by the assessment team rests with the client. These issues will be reviewed during subsequent Maintenance Assessments and the Re-certification Assessment, as appropriate.

Our firm’s quality control policies and procedures are supported by our comprehensive Business Management System (BMS) that governs the delivery of all Management System, certification assessment and verification services. The BMS allows PwC to manage quality in all aspects of our services. All members of our team (internal staff and external contract assessors) are aware of their operational and functional duties and services that pertain to ensuring quality.

Our internal Quality Review Committee (QRC) is responsible for the ongoing management of the practice and has the responsibility of managing quality through the review of each assessment. The Lead Assessor/Verifier will discuss each assessment to ensure all aspects of the file have been addressed as required.

Certification Communication and Logo-Use Agreement

Upon successful certification, the client will receive the deliverables mentioned above and will be required to conform to the certification communication requirements detailed in the engagement letter. If the client chooses to utilize the PwC logo, Certification mark, or other marks, PwC will provide them with a Logo-Use Agreement for signature, which includes detailed information on the use of the logo or mark.

If the client chooses to utilize the FSC trademark or Certification Marks, approvals for each new application must be made to and approved by PwC. If the client chooses to utilize the PEFC and/or SFI logos or Certification Marks, separate agreements must be made with those organizations.

FSC, PEFC and SFI maintain online directories of certified products and their suppliers and once the client is certified, PwC will work with the client to ensure the required information is submitted to those directories.

PwC will inform all clients of changes to its certification requirements, within thirty (30) days of such changes being approved by the approval body of the respective Standard(s). PwC will assess the use of logos during its assessment for conformity with the terms and conditions throughout the certification cycle and / or verifications.

Suspension, Withdrawal or Reducing the Scope of Certification

PwC will consider suspending or withdrawing certification in the following situations:

  • The organization's certified Management System or CoC process has persistently or seriously failed to meet certification requirements, including requirements for the continued effectiveness of the Management System/CoC process;
  • The certified client does not allow Maintenance or Re-registration/Re-certification Assessments to be completed by PwC at the required frequencies;
  • The certified client has voluntarily requested a suspension;
  • The certified client has not paid their certification fees;
  • The occurrence of five or more major non-compliances in a maintenance assessment shall be considered as a breakdown of the company’s Chain of Custody system and the certificate shall be suspended immediately; or
  • Upon client request

When a clients' certification is suspended, the certification is considered temporarily invalid. PwC includes wording to this effect in our Engagement Letter that is signed by the client. The status of the suspended certification will be recorded in the Registered Client Database maintained by PwC and will be made publicly available on request. The Lead Assessor will communicate to the client the actions needed to end suspension and any other actions required by the certification scheme.

Failure to resolve the situation creating the need to suspend the certification within sixty (60) days will result in either a reduction in the scope of certification or withdrawal of the certification. Any evaluations, reviews or decisions needed to resolve the suspension or withdrawal will be conducted and reviewed using the same general requirements as certification.

PwC will reduce the scope of certification to exclude those activities not meeting the requirements when the client has persistently or seriously failed to meet the certification requirements. A reduction in scope could also be a condition of certificate reinstatement. The reduction of scope will be in line with the requirements of the certification standard.

PwC will advise clients that upon receipt of written notice to withdraw the certification, the client must discontinue its use of all advertising materials that contain any reference to certification status.

Requests from the Public

PwC shall provide upon request information about:

a) Geographical area in which it operates;

b) The status of a given certification;

c) The name, related normative document, scope and geographical location(s) (city and country) for a specific certified client.

Impartiality Policy

PwC certification, registration, and greenhouse gas verification services are subject to the following conflict of interest policies, including:

  • PwC will not offer or provide services that it certifies others to perform.
  • PwC will not offer or provide certification consulting services to obtain or maintain certification services to those organizations that PwC has certified.
  • PwC will not offer or provide services to design, implement, or maintain Management Systems, Chain of Custody, or greenhouse gas verification processes to those organizations that PwC has certified or verified.
  • PwC together with its senior management staff shall be free from any commercial, financial, and other pressures, which might influence the results of the certification or greenhouse gas verification processes.
  • PwC will not certify another certification, registration, or verification body for their Management System, Chain of Custody, or verification activities.
  • PwC will not offer or provide internal (third-party) audits for Management Systems, Chain of Custody, or verification processes for clients that it has certified for a minimum of two years following the completion of the internal audits or advisory services.
  • PwC will not provide greenhouse gas verification services for the same greenhouse gas project unless allowed by the applicable programme.
  • PwC will take action to respond to any threats to its impartiality in accordance with the firm's policy for potential conflicts of interest.
  • All PwC assessors working in the certification and greenhouse gas verification practices sign independence declarations prior to charging work on client assignments.
  • All external contract assessors, greenhouse gas verifiers, subject matter experts, and technical experts working in the certification and greenhouse gas verification practices sign independence declarations as part of their contract prior to starting work on client assignments, to confirm their impartiality.
  • PwC will not certify an organization who has received consultancy or internal auditing assistance, and the relationship between PwC and those who provided the consultancy services poses an unacceptable threat to the impartiality of PwC, for a minimum of two years following the end of consultancy.
  • PwC will not outsource audits to an organization whose primary business is providing Management System or greenhouse gas verification consultancy services. This does not apply to individuals contracted as auditors as they will sign independence declarations as discussed above.
  • PwC will not state or imply that certification or greenhouse gas verification would be simpler, easier, faster or less expensive if a specified consultancy organization were used.  We will not market or link our certification or greenhouse gas verification services with an organization that provides Management System or greenhouse gas verification consultancy services. In addition, we will take corrective action to correct any organization that provides Management System or greenhouse gas verification consultancy services if we become aware that they are stating or implying that certification would be simpler, easier, faster or less expensive if PwC was used.
  • PwC will not outsource the review and issuance of greenhouse gas verification statements.


As a further safeguard of conflict of interest and impartiality, an Authorization for Service (AFS) is an internal process that requires the Practice Leader to obtain approvals before providing services to any client that is also a financial audit client of any part of the PwC network of firms. The approval is granted by the PwC financial audit partner, who may or may not need approval from the client's financial audit committee before approval can be granted.

Additionally, to ensure that there is no conflict of interest, personnel (including those acting in a managerial capacity) who have provided consultancy, or been employed by a client, shall not be part of an audit team to audit, review, make certification or greenhouse gas verification decisions, or to review or approve the resolution of a complaint or appeal for that client within two (2) years for all Standards, except FSC which will be three (3) years, following the end of the consultancy or employment.

Dispute Resolution

PwC has procedures for information requests, processing appeals and complaints pertaining to our accredited certification and verification programs. The process can be initiated in writing to the Practice Leader Mike Harris, or by contacting the PwC Canada Complaints and Business Conduct Hotline at 1-877-814-5833. All appeals and complaints will be acknowledged in writing along with providing a description of the complaints and appeals process. All enquiries will be handled in accordance with PwC confidentiality policies.

For more information about sustainable business solutions offered by PwC, click here and for our climate change related services (including greenhouse gas verification), click here.
 

Contact us

Mike Harris
Partner, Risk Assurance Services
Tel: +1 604 806 7711
Email

Edward (Ted) C. Bell
National Leader, SR&ED and Other Tax Incentives
Tel: +1 604 806 7705
Email