In recent decades, expectations for organizations – public and private, for-profit and not-for-profit – to demonstrate sound environmental, social and economic performance have continued to grow. In response, a diverse array of sectors have developed standards and practices, and associated verification programs to enable sectors to independently demonstrate sound and effective organizational management. Examples can be found in sectors such as health care, education, and natural resource sectors including forestry, mining and agriculture to name a few.
Standards and practices, buttressed by a verification program provide a means to validate the quality of the organization. Such programs highlight areas where an organization is doing well and identify opportunities for improvement in the ongoing pursuit of excellence. Overall, such programs enhance the credibility of the sector and maintain public, investor and government confidence in it.
Importantly, standards and practices combined with a performance assurance program provide a consistent, independent and repeatable means of fostering and supporting organizational improvement resulting in better risk management. As demonstrated by existing performance assurance or accreditation programs, some of the benefits of such programs include:
- Sets standards of excellence and affirms that an organization meets standards of quality
- Provides organizations with a template for high quality services, administration and governance
- Promotes on-going organizational awareness and improvement through a continuous process of assessment
- Provides a credible, independently verifiable method of demonstrating effective implementation of sector standards and practices
- Documents that the organization is true to its own organizational objectives
(mission, philosophy and goals)
- Gives purpose and direction for long-range strategic planning
- Provides public assurance of quality
- Promotes accountability
- Provides a complete review and written documentation, enabling the identification of strengths and weakness within the organization
- Gives the organization an opportunity to self-congratulate for quality services provided
- Works as a staff and management team building activity as the organization continues its quality improvement objectives
With respect to a performance assurance or accreditation program for land trusts specifically, in the United States, the Land Trust Accreditation Commission was incorporated in April 2006 as an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance to “operate an innovative program to build and recognize strong land trusts, foster public confidence in land conservation and help ensure the long-term protection of land”. In 2018, an independent external evaluation of the U.S. Land Trust Accreditation Program assessed the impacts of the first ten years the program. An overview of and detailed report on the evaluation can be found by clicking here: Land Trust Accreditation Ten-Year Impact Evaluation (only available in English).