Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ

What is Friend of the Earth?

Friend of the Earth is an international certification scheme for sustainable agriculture and farming.

How was Friend of the Earth created?

Friend of the Earth was a project founded in 2013 coming from the positive experience of Friend of the Sea, today one of the main certification schemes for sustainable fishing and aquaculture.

Both Friend of the Sea and Friend of the Earth are projects of the World Sustainability Organization, based in Italy and operating worldwide, whose objective is the conservation of ecosystems.

What is the objective of Friend of the Earth?

The objective of Friend of the Earth is to raise awareness and guide companies towards sustainable farming and breeding practices carried out in a not only environmental but also economic and social way. The Friend of the Earth logo allows the consumer to recognize the products realized respecting the environment and the workers of the whole chain.

What does sustainability mean?

The term sustainability is intended as an integrated factor between environmental, social and economic elements. Sustainable development is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to satisfy their own needs”, moreover “far from being a definitive condition of harmony, it is rather a process of change such that the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development and institutional changes are made consistent with future needs as well as with the current ones” (WCDE, 1987).

What does sustainability in agriculture mean?

Friend of the Earth promotes a model of agricultural production based on the integration of innovation aimed at reducing the environmental impact of crop farming and on the respect of workers employed all along the productive chain. Introduction of the use of energy from renewable sources, integrated control and no tillage are good examples of corrective actions that the certification encourages through its requirements. In other words, Friend of the Earth certified companies care about: soil conservation, safeguarding of agricultural and natural biodiversity, water retention, ecosystem stability, pollination functions and lastly, but no less importantly, the dignity of the workers.

What does sustainability in farming mean?

Friend of the Earth promotes a model of sustainable farming based on the respect of animals and nature with the aim of increasing the level of symbiosis with the environment and the territory over time. Recovering and conserving native breeds characterized by a marked resilience and suitable for integration with the ecosystem, promoting outdoor and extensive breeding and reducing the use of antibiotics and allopathic farmaceuticals when not necessary are good examples of corrective actions that certification encourages through its requirements.

Who is Friend of the Earth certification for?

Friend of the Earth certification is aimed at all farms and breeding companies that identify with the values of environmental sustainability and social responsibility through the adoption of production practices that respect the environment and the workers.

How do they get certification?

Any company interested in obtaining certification must contact Friend of the Earth ( and complete the “Preliminary information Questionnaire” (PIF) on the site in the “For companies” section. The science department of Friend of the Earth verifies whether there are the conditions necessary for the audit. If so, we proceed with the Audit and Licensing Agreement (ALA).

What are the Friend of the Earth certification criteria?

The certification standard was developed on the basis of the SAFA (Sustainability Assessment of Food and Agriculture systems) guidelines set by the FAO and consists of several performance indicators. The criteria include: the safeguarding of the ecosystem, the protection of wild fauna and flora, the protection of soil and water resources, the prohibition of the use of dangerous substances, the responsible management of waste and energy, social responsibility for the whole chain and legal conformity.

Who organises and carries out the verification audits?

The audits are organised and carried out by third party certification bodies. In special cases, the audit process can be carried out by the qualified staff of Friend of the Earth.

When does the verification audit begin?

Once the “Preliminary information Questionnaire” (PIF) has been compiled and sent, it takes a maximum of 7 days to evaluate the certification request. The checking audit starts on subscription of the Audit and Licensing Agreement (ALA) by the company. Once the signed contract is received, Friend of the Earth contacts one of the Certification bodies that decides when to start the audit in agreement with the applying company.

How long does a verification audit last?

To carry out an audit, a minimum time of one day per production site and a maximum of 2 weeks are required for review and realization of a report on the checks carried out.

How is the certificate given?

After passing the audit carried out by a third party certification body, Friend of the Earth issues a certificate authorizing the company to use the logo.

How long does the certification last?

The certification lasts for 3 years, during which the company is subject to annual supervision checks for traceability and monitoring according to sample checks within the scope of the Friend of the Earth international monitoring program.