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Open AccessArticle

Technology-enhanced Auditing in Voluntary Sustainability Standards: The Impact of COVID-19

1
UC Business School, University of Canterbury, Christchurch 8041, New Zealand
2
Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Ryerson University, Toronto, ON M5B 2K3, Canada
3
Assurance Services International (ASI), 53113 Bonn, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2020, 12(11), 4740; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114740
Received: 14 May 2020 / Revised: 3 June 2020 / Accepted: 5 June 2020 / Published: 10 June 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Economic and Business Aspects of Sustainability)
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the certification and auditing services of Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS). The traditional approach to auditing—on-site visits—has been significantly curtailed, and it is unclear when, and under what conditions, it might resume in full. The purpose of this paper is to study the initial responses to COVID-19 of leading VSS—a group of 21 standards that are members of ISEAL, a global membership organization for VSS. This is a qualitative study, and data are collected from publicly-available sources (i.e., official announcements, policy amendments, derogations) in order to inductively analyze how individual VSS have adjusted their certification services in response to travel bans and lockdowns. The emphasis of the analysis was understanding the role of technologies in the VSS responses to the COVID-19 crisis. The findings demonstrate significant uptake of remote auditing and information and communications technology (ICT), even though that uptake is constrained by limiting conditions and it is not currently expected by VSS to extend beyond the crisis. Lessons learned from the crisis are discussed, and the potential for remote auditing during this period to encourage the adoption of more advanced technologies (such as artificial intelligence and satellite monitoring) in certification services is explored. A set of research questions to guide future work grounded in the analysis is also provided. View Full-Text
Keywords: remote audits; crisis; technology-enhanced auditing; sustainability; standards; certification; COVID-19 remote audits; crisis; technology-enhanced auditing; sustainability; standards; certification; COVID-19
MDPI and ACS Style

Castka, P.; Searcy, C.; Fischer, S. Technology-enhanced Auditing in Voluntary Sustainability Standards: The Impact of COVID-19. Sustainability 2020, 12, 4740. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114740

AMA Style

Castka P, Searcy C, Fischer S. Technology-enhanced Auditing in Voluntary Sustainability Standards: The Impact of COVID-19. Sustainability. 2020; 12(11):4740. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114740

Chicago/Turabian Style

Castka, Pavel; Searcy, Cory; Fischer, Sönke. 2020. "Technology-enhanced Auditing in Voluntary Sustainability Standards: The Impact of COVID-19" Sustainability 12, no. 11: 4740. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12114740

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Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

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