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Interview
International Lead Assessor Robert Volkman ensures certification is consistent and recognized across the globe

December 7, 2020

International Lead Assessor Robert Volkman ensures certification is consistent and recognized across the globe

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Interview
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Robert Volkman has the ability to witness assessments in an efficient, focused, and timely manner. Because of his experience with CORSIA and many of the programs at SCC, he helps organizations complete rigorous assessments. His expertise and long-standing reputation help position SCC as one of the most recognized and respected voices in the international standards and accreditation communities.

We reached out to Robert Volkman to learn more about his experience conducting office and witness assessments at SCC.

 

Q.

Why did you become an assessor? 

A.

I started my auditing career back in 1997 in regulatory compliance with the Forest Practices Board. During my time at the Forest Practices Board, I participated in audits conducted by SCC assessors. Those positive experiences of working with knowledgeable and professional SCC staff motivated me to expand my auditing career by approaching SCC to become an assessor myself.

Q.

Can you tell us more about the international CORSIA program and SCC’s involvement in the program? 

A.

The Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) is a crucial part of Canada’s carbon offsetting plan. It is a global measure designed to offset international aviation carbon emissions and stabilize their levels starting in 2020.

SCC has been working with Transport Canada and the UN International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to ensure that Canada continues to be a world leader in minimizing emissions from international air travel.

The Government of Canada also recently announced that it would develop a plan to set Canada on a path to achieve a prosperous net-zero emissions future by 2050. Canada has committed to reducing its GHG emissions by 30% below its 2005 levels by 2030, and CORSIA will help with reaching that goal.

Q.

CORSIA is a mandatory program; why is it crucial that airline operators and verification bodies comply with this? 

A.

From the Canadian perspective, the main reason to comply with this program is that reporting GHG emissions, reductions, or removals is a regulatory requirement in Canada (Transport Canada). Airline operators worldwide need a method to report their emissions consistently and verifiably.

The overall objective of CORSIA for verification bodies is to ensure they meet the highest international standards. The involvement of verification bodies which are compliant with CORSIA provides confidence to the general public that the reported emissions are accurate and that an independent third party has verified these reported emissions.

Q.

Can you tell us what standards need to be followed by verification bodies to meet the CORSIA requirements?

A.

For CORSIA accreditation, the following international standards apply:

  • ISO 14065:2013 Greenhouse gases – Requirements for greenhouse gas validation and verification bodies for use in accreditation or other forms of recognition
  • ISO 14064-3:2006 Greenhouse gases – Part 3: Specification with guidance for the validation and verification of greenhouse gas assertions
  • International Civil Aviation Organization, Standards and Recommended Practices – Annex 16 Volume IV
  • International Civil Aviation Organization, Environmental Technical Manual – Volume IV
Q.

Can you take us through the process of CORSIA Accreditation?

A.

The accreditation process involves the following:

Step 1: Assessment of an initial application by a verification body. This step involves a documentation review of the application provided to determine whether the verification body meets the requirements and is deemed compliant.

Step 2: An on-site or remote visit to the verification body’s head office to evaluate the verification process and determine the competencies of the personnel. This step includes an on-site assessment to evaluate the verification body’s ability to perform the CORSIA verification.

Step 3: Accreditation for CORSIA is granted after completion of the above process. Initial accreditation, witness audit, surveillance, and reaccreditation activities are required.

Additional CORSIA accreditation guidance documents:

Q.

What other international experiences have you had working as an assessor?

A.

In recent years, I have had the opportunity to conduct witness audits in China. Experiencing a new culture and seeing the enthusiasm in adopting and implementing standards was an eye-opener.

Also, I participated in a witness audit of an automotive facility. During this audit, I had a chance to observe the development of the interior design of a driverless car, which was a unique experience.

To ensure it was a successful assessment, SCC worked with interpreters and relied on different information and communications technologies like chat and breakout rooms. It was a great learning experience not only for the customer but for SCC.

Q.

What was a valuable takeaway that an assessment you completed provided a customer?

A.

Sometimes a customer builds a management system that can be overly complicated or establishes redundant internal requirements that may be difficult to manage. This could result in a non-compliant issue being brought forward by an assessor. We always make customers aware of these issues, which can be a great takeaway for customers after the assessment.

Q.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? 

A.

I do tend to work too much at times. When I do take time for myself, I enjoy touring wineries and hiking on Vancouver Island. I also love cooking and trying new recipes.

Robert Volkman helps organizations integrate seamless processes by providing analysis and audit services. Robert is the Canadian Chair of the [TC207/SC7] Greenhouse Gas Management and Related Activities Mirror Committee. He has professional designations in management systems, forestry, project management, health and safety and greenhouse gas programs.

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