What does it mean that the standard will be released, effective and mandatory? 

The Pilot Version 1.0 of the unified standard is planned for release in the first half of 2024, to be used for pilot testing feasibility of the criteria on the field. We will conduct a full internal systems update to align with the new standard, as well as provide the necessary implementation planning for all stakeholders in the system (e.g., taking adequate time to align across our assurance system, the accreditation and certification bodies’ systems, and for sites to prepare their operations to get certified). We will also update pre-existing documents to reflect the harmonized standards system.

Following pilot testing and system updates taking place this year, the final standard will be published during 2025. The final standard will state both an effective date and a mandatory date. The effective date is planned for Q1 2026 which means that auditing and certification may begin on a voluntary basis when requested from approved certification bodies. The mandatory date will be no sooner than 12 months following the final standard publication date according to our standard-setting procedure. The mandatory date is expected mid-2026 and means that all applicable audits from that date onwards are required to be to the new standard. Existing standards superseded by the unified standard will be retired on a transition timeline.