Training for Peer Reviewers Under the MSPO Certification Scheme

15 JUNE 2017, KUALA LUMPUR: MPOCC held a 2-day Training Course for Peer Reviewers in Kuala Lumpur on 14-15 June. Some 30 peer reviewers registered with MPOCC attended the training session that was held for the first time under the MSPO Certification Scheme operated by MPOCC.

The objective of the training course was to provide a better understanding of the MSPO Standards and auditing procedures, as well as the scope and role of peer reviewers in the certification process. Peer reviewing adds value to the audit report prepared by the auditors, thus inadvertently enhancing the credibility of the scheme.

Providing training to peer reviewers is part of MPOCC’s efforts to increase the number of peer reviewers to cater for the increasing demand for MSPO certification by the palm oil industry players over the coming years.

For 2017, MPOCC targets to train at least 50 peer reviewers who are experts in various fields related to the oil palm industry in Malaysia. MPOCC hopes to train many more experts to cater for the huge number of peer reviewers needed to meet the targets for implementation of mandatory MSPO certification over the coming years.

To become a peer reviewer, an individual must have a minimum of 10 years of experience in oil palm management or expertise related to various aspects of oil palm management, have the necessary knowledge and work experience to assess adequacy of audit reports, a good understanding of the certification process under the MSPO Certification Scheme and the MSPO Standards, have been trained by MPOCC on the requirements of the MSPO Certification Scheme, shall not have provided consultancy or similar services to the management unit concerned at least three years prior to the audit as well as have no financial, trade or business interest with the management unit being audited or likely to be audited.

Such training course also aims to equip the peer reviewers with overall knowledge of the methodology and skills required for conducting reviews, and technical understanding of the MSPO Standards.

The peer review process is an important and integral part of the certification process as the role of a peer reviewer as an independent expert is to review the audit report prepared by a certification body (CB) for a second opinion on the level of compliance of the management unit concerned against the requirements of the MSPO standard used.

For evaluating each audit report (for Stage 2 and Recertification Audits), two peer reviewers are appointed by the CB, based on the issues raised during the audit of the management unit.

Peer reviewers have to confirm that the audit team has carried out an objective and professional audit against the MSPO standard, investigated the sources of data and avenues of enquiry, arrived at appropriate conclusion and recommendation based on available audit evidence and findings as well as to ensure that the audit team has prepared a concise and comprehensive audit report before the MSPO certificate is awarded.

On the first day of the training course, a number of modules were presented, including Requirements for the Accreditation of CBs Operating Oil Palm Management (OPM) Certification, Peer Review Process Requirements for CBs Operating OPM Certification, stakeholders’ consultation requirements during OPM Certification audits, elements of a comprehensive report, certification process and auditing procedures, role of peer reviewers as well as report writing methodology.

On the second day, modules on MSPO Standards and ethical responsibilities of peer reviewers were presented.

Participants are expected to understand the background and requirements of the MSPO Certification Scheme, certification process and auditing procedures, scope and role of peer reviewers as stipulated in the document Peer Review Process Requirements for Certification Bodies Operating Oil Palm Management Certification under the MSPO Certification Scheme, as well as equip themselves with a comprehensive understanding of the Principles, Criteria, and Indicators of the MSPO Standards used.

Basically, such training for peer reviewers is to enhance their competency to ensure that the audit report has the necessary factual evidence content to act as the basis for the award of the MSPO certificate to the management unit that has been audited.

At the completion of the training session, MPOCC CEO, Harnarinder Singh handed over certificates to all the participants.