Aligning Industry Standards for Sustainable Supply Chains

The Sustainable Supply Chain Initiative (SSCI) provides an independent benchmarking process, exclusively designed for third-party auditing, monitoring and certification schemes. Based on criteria developed by CGF members, external stakeholders such as supply chain and sustainability experts, intergovernmental organisations, and NGOs, the SSCI sets the bar for what the industry expects from third-party auditing, monitoring and certification schemes. 

The SSCI currently benchmarks third-party social compliance auditing, monitoring and certification schemes and welcomes programmes to submit applications for benchmarking against its Social and Scheme Management Criteria under three sectoral scopes: Manufacturing and Processing, Primary Production, and At-Sea Operations. The details of these criteria are listed below. The criteria for the At-Sea Operations scope, and the criteria relevant to aquaculture under the Primary Production scope, were developed through an ongoing collaboration with the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI) with support from IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative.

Scroll down to learn more about the benchmark process and requirements. Ready to apply? Scroll down to download the Scheme Owner Application Kit for each scope, which includes the SSCI Benchmark Application form.

The SSCI Benchmark Scopes

The SSCI Benchmark is open to third-party social compliance auditing, monitoring and certification programmes covering activities in three sectors:

AI: Manufacturing and Processing

BI: Primary Production (includes agriculture and land-based aquaculture)

CI: At-Sea Operations

The SSCI Benchmark Requirements


Click on each set of Criteria to learn more about the key sustainability requirements and relevant governance and verification elements they include.

The SSCI Scheme Management criteria cover elements that ensure auditing schemes operate in a credible manner. They establish the foundational elements of what the industry expects regarding how audits are performed so that they respect social sustainability standards. These criteria are based on the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) scheme management criteria, the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI) governance and operational management criteria, and ISEAL criteria. The criteria include the following elements:



  • Scheme Governance
  • Scope and Objectives
  • Integrity Programme
  • Logo Use and Claims
  • Standard Setting and Maintenance


Operational Management / System

  • Accreditation
  • Relationship with Audit Firms
  • Auditor Competence
  • Audit Protocol
  • Audit Reporting
  • Follow-up Action
  • Data Management

The Scheme Management Criteria for all scopes can be found in Part II of the SSCI Benchmarking Requirements. To achieve SSCI Recognition, standards must meet all applicable criteria in Part II as well as the respective criteria for their benchmarking scope listed in Part III. Terms used in the Scheme Management Criteria are defined in Part IV of the SSCI Benchmarking Requirements.

The SSCI’s Social Criteria identify the key foundational elements of any effective and responsible social sustainability standard. These criteria ensure that all relevant social sustainability topics are being covered by an auditing scheme. The SSCI Social Criteria are informed by international reference frameworks such as principles from relevant International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions, the 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and the CGF Priority Industry Principles on Forced Labour. The criteria include the following elements:


Management Systems

  • Compliance with National Legislation
  • No Forced, Bonded and Prison Labour
  • No Child Labour
  • Freedom of Association and Effective Recognition of the Right to Collective Bargaining
  • No Discrimination, Harassment or Abuse
  • Health and Safety
  • Building and Fire Safety
  • Wages, Benefits and Terms of Employment
  • Working Hours
  • Grievance Mechanisms


For the Primary Production scope, the Social Criteria also includes the following elements:

  • Chemical Management
  • Community Impact/Responsible Farming Practices


For the At-Sea Operations scope, the Social Criteria also includes: 

  • Repatriation

The Social Criteria can be found in each scope’s respective Part III of the SSCI Benchmark Criteria. To achieve SSCI Recognition, schemes must meet all criteria listed under Part III for their respective benchmarking scopes and all applicable criteria listed under Part II. Terms used in the Social Criteria are defined in Part IV of the SSCI Benchmarking Requirements.

The Benchmarking Process

To achieve SSCI Recognition, programmes need to undergo benchmarking according to the SSCI methodology. This process starts with an application to the SSCI team and includes a self-assessment, a desktop review by an independent SSCI expert Benchmark Leader (BL), an office visit from the SSCI and the BL coupled with a public consultation, and a final industry validation by the SSCI Steering Committee. If all criteria are met, the scheme is recognised by the SSCI.

The SSCI Benchmark methodology is streamlined with the benchmark methodology of the CGF Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) to ensure a consistent approach to benchmarking across the CGF. 

Learn more about the SSCI Benchmark process and methodology in Part I of the Benchmark Requirements.



All information related to each SSCI scope, including the Social and Scheme Management Criteria, are available to view and download in the relevant Scheme Owner Application Kits below.


In order to achieve SSCI recognition, schemes have to undergo benchmarking according to the SSCI methodology and meet all the social and scheme management criteria. Please consult our FAQs for further information.