Equitable Origin (EO) is the world´s first stakeholder-based, independent, voluntary standards system designed to enable higher social and environmental performance, greater transparency and more accountability in energy development. The Equitable Origin System applies to energy development sites like oil and gas wells, wind farms, and solar installations. EO works with a variety of stakeholders, including communities, companies, governments, and investors to foster dialogue, benchmark performance and promote best practices through the EO100™ Standard.
Equitable Origin is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to protect people and the environment by ensuring that energy development is conducted under the highest social and environmental standards. Equitable Origin, Inc. qualifies as tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code. Donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Please check with your tax advisor to determine deductibility in your particular situation.
Equitable Origin is funded by private donations, grants from nonprofit and public organizations, and revenue generated by its site certification and associated services provided to energy developers and site operators.
The EO100™ Standard is a comprehensive Standard for assessing the social and environmental performance of energy developers and site operators (e.g. companies that build wind farms or companies that extract natural gas). The Standard was developed through multiple stakeholder consultations carried out over three years between 2009 and 2012. This process allowed for the input of a diverse set of parties interested in or affected by energy development projects. The Standard covers a wide range of human rights, social, environmental and governance practices at development sites that impact local communities and the environment.
The EO100™ Standard was developed through extensive consultation with a diverse collection of stakeholders — affected communities, energy companies, governments, and nonprofit organizations. The first version of the Standard was developed over three years between 2009 and 2012. EO conducted over 70 workshops in five countries and engaged over 1500 individual and institutional stakeholders who provided more than 2000 comments during the public consultation. EO follows ISEAL’s Standard-Setting Code that defines effective standard-setting processes.
The EO100™ Standard is designed to be an international, generally applicable framework that addresses operational practices and impacts across a broad range of social, environmental, governance and human rights issues that are commonly associated with energy development projects. The scale and intensity of impacts from energy development and the best approaches for their mitigation vary considerably between energy sources, across different regions, and from site to site. To tailor the parameters of the EO100™ Standard to specific energy sectors, EO creates technical addenda to the Standard to incorporate sector-specific impacts into the implementation and assurance process.

As of 2016, the EO100™ Standard and addenda are available for application to conventional oil and gas operations and shale oil and gas (fracking) operations. Technical addenda for wind, solar, and hydroelectric projects are under development. Equitable Origin’s stakeholder-based governance structure and consultation process ensure consistency across all energy sectors and development sites. In particular, we engage local stakeholders to advise on issues that are specific to and important for a particular area. These stakeholders may establish Regional Stakeholder Councils to formalize their participation in the EO system.

There are multiple mechanisms in place to ensure transparency in the Equitable Origin System:

1) The EO100™ Standard was created through the use of the ISEAL procedures for international standard-setting as a model for our consultation process.2) The stakeholder-based Board of Directors gives representation to each stakeholder group to allow for fair and transparent governance.3) Summary reports of site certification audits and verification audits that determine if a development site will receive and maintain EO certification are publicly available.4) Claims made by energy companies in connection with EO site certification are strictly governed by our Trademark Use Policy.

Equitable Origin recognizes the burning of fossil fuels like oil and gas is a leading contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. EO also acknowledges the need for society to transition to renewable energy as quickly as possible. Therefore, we do not support or enable new oil and gas projects anywhere in the world. EO does not take part in any aspect of the decision-making process preceding new oil exploration and development. Once the decision to pursue oil and gas development is made, EO seeks to ensure that companies carry out the exploration and production activities according to the highest social and environmental standards.
Equitable Origin recognizes that expanding the development of renewable energy resources is a crucial strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and curbing climate change. Therefore, we do support new renewable energy projects like wind farms and solar installations, and believe our standards and certification system can help expedite such projects by ensuring social and environmental impacts are addressed and mitigated as early in the development process as possible. Local impacts of renewables projects can pose potential risks to local communities and ecosystems. With that reality in mind, we are determined to assist renewable energy developers in avoiding the mistakes of the last century of energy development that have caused or contributed to social disruption and environmental damage.
Many recommendations and guidelines can be applied to the energy industry, however, the industry lacks a comprehensive, rigorously developed and stakeholder negotiated standard that establishes global benchmarks for an operator’s social and environmental performance and allows for independent verification of site-level impacts.

Developed through an unprecedented collaboration between industry, indigenous and local communities, socially and environmentally focused NGOs, academics and national governmental agencies, the EO100™ Standard is comprised of numerous verifiable indicators that span the life cycle of an energy development project. These indicators cover everything from transparency in contract negotiation to stakeholder engagement in social investment planning to biodiversity action plans and environmental remediation.

The EO100™ Standard was created for the energy industry and encompasses and builds upon existing international standards and multi-stakeholder initiatives, and industry recommendations for best practices including the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standards, World Bank Group Environmental, Health, and Safety Guidelines, AA1000 Accountability Principles Standards, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), ISO 26000 Guidance on Social Responsibility, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPSHR), the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association (IPIECA), the Energy and Biodiversity Initiative, and various ILO conventions, among others.

As EO develops technical addenda to the EO100™ Standard for other forms of energy development, we continue to draw on existing sector-specific resources and guidelines to ensure the addendum for each sector is an accurate reflection of current best practices.

Before working with any company or organization and before entering into a site certification agreement with an energy developer, EO undertakes a thorough due diligence process that involves looking at the energy developer’s track record and current practices. If current practices by a site operator at the site selected for EO100™ implementation or certification or at any other site are considered unacceptable according to EO’s Policy on Association, EO will not enter into a relationship with that operator and its sites will not be eligible for certification.
Equitable Origin certification only applies to specific energy development sites, not to energy companies at the corporate level. Certification to the EO100™ Standard indicates that a specific site has achieved a certain level of conformance with the EO100™ Standard, which reflects a commitment on the part of the operator to maintaining high social and environmental standards at that site. The EO100™ Standard, does however, contain company level social and environmental indicators that are audited by a third-party Assessment Body.

In addition, Equitable Origin has a Policy on Association that governs the process by which EO agrees to enter into and continue association with other organizations. Through this policy EO aims to identify organizations that are not committed to the fundamental principles embodied in the EO100™ Standard, and prevent them from misusing their association with EO.

If a company seeks to certify one or more of its energy development sites, auditors from an EO-approved Assessment Body evaluate the site and generate a score based on specific performance targets in the EO100™ Standard. The auditors then calculate a Certification Score for the site based on their findings, and submit the score and a recommendation for or against certification to Equitable Origin. Based on the findings and recommendation of the auditors, EO decides to grant or withhold certification of the site. For more information about certification, see EO100™ Site Certification.
Third-party Assessment Bodies perform site visits — called certification audits — that inform the certification decision. Assessment Bodies are selected through an approval process designed to ensure integrity and quality assurance. Individual auditors must meet auditor competency requirements and complete relevant training. The Assessment Body approval function is administered by Equitable Origin with oversight by an independent committee.

After performing a certification audit, the Assessment Body makes a recommendation to certify or not to certify a site based on their findings. Equitable Origin makes the final decision to grant or withhold certification of a site based on the Assessment Body’s recommendation and other factors. For more information about certification, see EO100™ Site Certification.

In December 2017, Equitable Origin decided to suspend voluntarily our membership in the ISEAL Alliance. ISEAL is a membership organization of sustainability standards. A number of reasons factored into this decision:

The standards landscape has evolved dramatically in the last decade.

  • Standards and certification systems are currently undergoing many changes and are evolving to adapt to shifting sustainability priorities and practices. Voluntary standards are increasingly focusing on capacity building and continuous improvement.
  • EO does not currently have any active certifications under the standard which is a membership requirement for ISEAL. We have found that the value of the EO100™ Standard is less in its being a certification tool, and more in its being a negotiation and risk-management tool.

EO is more than just a standard-setting organization.

  • We partner with business, communities and government to enable transparent, sustainable and equitable development.
  • Our recent projects have focused on working with indigenous communities in the Amazon region to build their capacity to determine whether and how their resources are developed.
  • We are running a nation-wide training program in Mexico through local universities on social and environmental impact assessment methodology.
  • We are working with government agencies to evaluate and improve their transparency and oversight mechanisms to incentivize implementation of best management practices in the energy sector.
  • EO has developed an integrated platform for companies, investors, and project developers that enables a stepwise approach to environmental and social performance management, measurement, and assurance. The platform facilitates integration of multiple standards, customizable reporting and data management, and incremental levels of verification. It also allows EO to streamline its assurance, monitoring and evaluation functions.

We recognize and adapt to the needs of our stakeholders.

  • We are listening to our stakeholders and are hearing that companies are looking for solutions, not rules. We have adapted our system to focus on using the EO100™ Standard for Responsible Energy Development as a management framework and benchmarking tool to evaluate and drive best practices in the private sector.
  • Similarly, communities are looking for opportunities to develop their skills, enhance their knowledge, and build their capacity to understand and manage the risks and impacts of large-scale energy and extractives projects affecting their lands.

As ISEAL is undergoing a strategic review of its own approach to membership to ensure future relevance, influence and impact of ISEAL’s work, we hope that we can renew our membership in the future. In the meantime, our work on Free, Prior and Informed Consent, supported by the ISEAL Innovation Fund grant, will continue.