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Sustainability Standards: Interactions Between Private Actors, Civil Society, and Governments

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Abstract

New partnerships between governments, private companies, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are reshaping global environmental governance. In particular, there has been a rise of voluntary sustainability standards in an attempt to manage social and environmental impacts of global supply chains. We analyze the large spectrum of interactions between private, public, and civil society actors around voluntary sustainability standards, primarily for tropical agriculture and forestry. This review uncovers a policy ecosystem dominated by a proliferation of standards that complement, substitute, or compete against each other, with coordination mechanisms beginning to arise. Contrary to widely held views, interactions between governments, NGOs, and private companies surrounding the adoption of sustainable practices are not generally antagonistic, and public and private environmental governance regimes rarely operate independently. The influence of these interactions on the effectiveness of sustainability standards needs more attention. Better understanding how private regulations interact with the policy ecosystem will help design more effective interventions.

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... Global consumer concerns over environmental and social issues in the agri-food sector have increased and are reflected in the increased spread of certification systems such as Fairtrade, as well as initiatives fostering direct linkages between producers and consumers (Glasbergen and Schouten 2015;Mithöfer et al. 2017a, b;Lambin and Thorlakson 2018). Voluntary sustainability standards (VSSs) are defined by various standard-setting organizations, which include nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) (e.g., Fairtrade International, WWF), the private sector (e.g., GLOBAL G.A.P.), governments (e.g., EU or US organic standards) and multi-stakeholder initiatives (Higgins and Richards 2019;Meemken et al. 2021). ...
... Voluntary sustainability standards (VSSs) are defined by various standard-setting organizations, which include nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) (e.g., Fairtrade International, WWF), the private sector (e.g., GLOBAL G.A.P.), governments (e.g., EU or US organic standards) and multi-stakeholder initiatives (Higgins and Richards 2019;Meemken et al. 2021). New partnerships between governments, private companies, and NGOs are reshaping global environmental governance (Lambin and Thorlakson 2018;Kalfagianni et al. 2020). VSSs active in the banana sector such as GLOBAL G.A.P., Rainforest Alliance, Organic, and Fairtrade are oriented to meet multiple and co-existing sustainability goals such as maintaining food safety, preventing deforestation, tackling poverty, empowering producers, and they employ a wide range of sustainability metrics. ...
... The proliferation of VSSs is associated with processes of deregulation and re-regulation in which retailers and large brands have increasingly played a more significant role in governing value chains (Nelson and Tallontire 2014). In recent decades, competition between standards, as each tries to gain market share, has also increased, driving down price premiums in agri-food value chains (Lambin and Thorlakson 2018;Dietz and Grabs 2021). ...
Article
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Global concerns over environmental and social issues in agrifood value chains have increased and are reflected in a number of voluntary sustainability standards and regulatory initiatives. However, these initiatives are often based on poor knowledge of production realities, creating a disconnect between producing and consuming countries. Through narrative analysis, this paper reveals asymmetries in the responsibilities of the various actors participating in Ecuadorian banana value chains, providing clear problem- and solution-framings. Despite the broad range of actors interviewed, our analysis reveals convergence in two main narratives that reflect asymmetries amongst local actors in terms of their ability to participate, ability to maintain participation, and adaptation strategies in view of changing external factors. One narrative relates to sustainability adaptations, the cost of which is not shared among all value chain actors. This is combined with a downward trend in the price of bananas and the lack of a differentiated price to account for losses and costs arising from increasing sustainability standards. Another narrative reflects a value chain structure that threatens small-farm survival. It highlights the urgency of protecting small-farm activity by enforcing national regulation and developing new market segments/models that understand small-scale producer reality. Study results show that the multitude of standards is not seen as beneficial and that downstream actors rather wish for common minimum standards to reduce business costs. Compatibility between standards and local realities should be a priority for global sustainability standards adoption. Building on the problems and solution-framings of local value chain links, we give voice to local actors, and link their perceptions to existing literature and discursive politics while contributing to social transparency and addressing the democratic deficit in agrifood value chains.
... While the use of blockchain technology in agro-food supply chains is a recent phenomenon, the principal private governance mechanism for agro-food supply chain sustainability for at least two decades has been the adoption of voluntary sustainability standards (VSS). VSS govern different aspects of sustainability (social, economic, environmental) and the commodity production process including assurance of product quality and attributes, transportation, and production and processing methods (Lambin and Thorlakson, 2018;Potts et al., 2014). Most VSS are governed by non-state actors, mainly NGOs, though some industry associations and companies have also developed their own standards (e. g. 4C, 2021). ...
... Consequently, some VSS include certifications and eco-labels, facilitating information transfer on sustainability characteristics along the supply chain. The governance structure of VSS also specifies monitoring, usually classified as first, second and third party monitoring, defined by the relationship between the governing and the monitoring body (Lambin and Thorlakson, 2018). Generally, third party monitoring is considered more stringent and credible (Potts et al., 2014;Lambin and Thorlakson, 2018). ...
... The governance structure of VSS also specifies monitoring, usually classified as first, second and third party monitoring, defined by the relationship between the governing and the monitoring body (Lambin and Thorlakson, 2018). Generally, third party monitoring is considered more stringent and credible (Potts et al., 2014;Lambin and Thorlakson, 2018). However, the credibility and effectiveness of VSS is today questioned due to several reasons. ...
Article
Blockchain-based technologies have emerged as a mechanism for governing sustainability in agro-food supply chain, where voluntary sustainability standards have been the main governance mechanisms over the past decades. Despite a growing body of research on blockchain-based technologies, the relationship between these two mechanisms for supply chains remains poorly understood. Therefore, this study aims at addressing this research gap and explaining their interaction. We described and assessed 16 cases of blockchain-based technologies and voluntary sustainability standards against twelve sustainability-related assessment criteria. The results show that the relationship between blockchain-based technologies and voluntary sustainability standards can be co-existing, synergistic, and antagonistic. While most cases fall under the co-existing relationship, we identified a few cases with synergistic relationships, and one case with an antagonistic relationship. We explain each type of relation and show how the system architecture and goal of a blockchain-based technology implementation are key determinants of this relationship. This study can support stakeholders in agro-food supply chain in better understanding the application of blockchain-based technologies for sustainability governance in relation to existing voluntary sustainability standards. It can further inform those stakeholders of possibilities to constructively collaborate and focus on positive social and environmental impacts within agro-food supply chains.
... Specified goals under this heading are in Box 2. The history of Sustainable Development Goal 7 (which may be framed as sustainable energy development) has been outlined by Gunnarsdottir et al. [34]. Many operationalizations of sustainability and sustainable development as social constructs (sustainability standards, sustainability goals, sustainable development goals) have emerged from companies and groups of companies [30,[36][37][38][39][40]. They tend to diverge due to the variety of social contexts from which they emerge. ...
... Non-governmental organizations have also developed (diverging) sustainability standards, for instance for biofuels [10,38,46] and energy in buildings, the latter linked to different definitions of sustainability [7,9]. Governments of countries have been active in the establishment of mandatory and voluntary sustainability standards, the implementation and adaptation of sustainable development goals and the characterization of activities and products as (un)sustainable [32,38,47,48]. ...
... Non-governmental organizations have also developed (diverging) sustainability standards, for instance for biofuels [10,38,46] and energy in buildings, the latter linked to different definitions of sustainability [7,9]. Governments of countries have been active in the establishment of mandatory and voluntary sustainability standards, the implementation and adaptation of sustainable development goals and the characterization of activities and products as (un)sustainable [32,38,47,48]. They also have developed sustainable development plans for specific parts of the energy sector such as coal mining [49,50]. ...
Article
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The terms sustainable and sustainability are currently often used in scientific journals, including Energies. There are cases where these terms are defined or operationalized, but more often they are not. This is problematic, as there are reportedly hundreds of (different) definitions and operationalizations (in terms of standards or goals) of sustainability. This large number has its roots in history. Many current definitions and operationalizations of sustainability are social constructs. As these constructs vary, there can be variation in the characterization of specific ways to provide energy as sustainable or not sustainable. There are also definitions of sustainability that have emerged from the sciences. These definitions can also lead to differences in the characterization of specific ways to provide energy as sustainable or not sustainable. In view thereof, there is a case to define and/or operationalize sustainable and sustainability when these terms are used in the context of energy.
... Civil society organizations have played an important role in advancing corporate sustainability initiatives (40) and, in particular, market-based and voluntary efforts (101,102). Public naming and shaming of public-facing brands has been an effective form of environmental activism [in countries and places where nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are operational and active (40)], although the popularity of these tools waned after many NGOs became collaborators with (and recipients of funding from) TNCs (40,75,101,103). Several prominent examples of such cooperation are related to labeling. ...
... Civil society organizations have played an important role in advancing corporate sustainability initiatives (40) and, in particular, market-based and voluntary efforts (101,102). Public naming and shaming of public-facing brands has been an effective form of environmental activism [in countries and places where nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are operational and active (40)], although the popularity of these tools waned after many NGOs became collaborators with (and recipients of funding from) TNCs (40,75,101,103). Several prominent examples of such cooperation are related to labeling. ...
... The first stewardship labels were created in the 1970s and were related to eco-labeling (104). The "dolphin-safe" logo for tuna was established in the United States in 1990 (19,103), and the Forest Stewardship Council, established in 1993, is an international certification scheme for wood products (75,101). The Marine Stewardship Council is an international certification scheme for capture fisheries that was established in 1997 (19,105). ...
Article
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Corporations are perceived as increasingly powerful and critically important to ensuring that irreversible climatological or ecological tipping points on Earth are not crossed. Environmental impacts of corporate activities include pollution of soils, freshwater and the ocean, depletion of ecosystems and species, unsustainable use of resources, changes to air quality, and alteration of the global climate. Negative social impacts include unacceptable working conditions, erosion of traditional practices, and increased inequalities. Multiple formal and informal mechanisms have been developed, and innovative examples of corporate biosphere stewardship have resulted in progress. However, the biosphere crisis underscores that such efforts have been insufficient and that transformative change is urgently needed. We provide suggestions for aligning corporate activities with the biosphere and argue that such corporate biosphere stewardship requires more ambitious approaches taken by corporations, combined with new and formalized public governance approaches by governments. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Environment and Resources, Volume 47 is October 2022. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.
... It integrates the focal company mainly on the first and second-tiers in the clothing, footwear, and accessories segments, and all six companies in this study (Bibi, Hering, Malwee, Grendene, Marisa, and Renner) are signatories or certified. The collaboration among key stakeholders in the Brazilian apparel sector has been emphasised in the literature as a determining factor to promote sustainability along the chain (Laquimia and Eweje, 2014;Lambin and Thorlakson, 2018;Frigelg et al., 2019). ...
... Based on the content analysis of the sustainability reports from the companies analysed and the literature review (see Appendix 4), two types of interactions, intervention (mandatory) and influence (nonmandatory), are also observed in the Brazilian supply chain. These interactions or type of relationships arise between the entities in the supply chain and with different external stakeholders (Lambin and Thorlakson, 2018), as described by Bubicz et al. (2020). Figure 3 represents these interactions. ...
... Especially being an emergent economy in the international scenario, the pressure from different stakeholders like the International Labour Organization (ILO) and World Trade Organization (WTO) have been expanded in order to adopt sustainable practices. This pressure is reflected through changes in local laws, which affect the companies both in international and local operations (Lambin and Thorlakson, 2018;Stevenson and Cole, 2018;Frazier et al., 2004;Tokatli, 2013). A solid line identifies intervention interactions in Figure 3. ...
... ii NGOs, which can establish "NGO-led certification" or "multi-stakeholder certification"; or iii the government, which can set up "voluntary government-led certification". In this case, there is no mention of collaborative arrangements (Lambin and Thorlakson, 2018). ...
... In a recent study, Lambin and Thorlakson (2018) mapped potential multiple interactions between governments, businesses and NGOs, according to each type of VSSL, and how they can influence the effectiveness of each scheme. The focus was environmental and social standards, mainly in tropical agriculture and forestry; and the authors claimed that the subject needed more attention, given that the relationships among all actors involved in the schemes were important to their success. ...
... Regarding internal issues, we noticed that the interactions within organisations in general (governments, NGOs and companies) are an understudied topic. Companies' internal interactions can concern the departments in charge of sustainability policies, public affairs, and supply chains (Lambin and Thorlakson, 2018), but empirical evidence shows the importance of marketing's and top management's involvement when establishing sustainability policies for the whole company. Considering the relationships between consumer goods companies and their suppliers, which are private sector actors, it is possible to classify them as vertical interactions -the influence that a company in the value chain exerts on its business partners. ...
... ii NGOs, which can establish "NGO-led certification" or "multi-stakeholder certification"; or iii the government, which can set up "voluntary government-led certification". In this case, there is no mention of collaborative arrangements (Lambin and Thorlakson, 2018). ...
... In a recent study, Lambin and Thorlakson (2018) mapped potential multiple interactions between governments, businesses and NGOs, according to each type of VSSL, and how they can influence the effectiveness of each scheme. The focus was environmental and social standards, mainly in tropical agriculture and forestry; and the authors claimed that the subject needed more attention, given that the relationships among all actors involved in the schemes were important to their success. ...
... Regarding internal issues, we noticed that the interactions within organisations in general (governments, NGOs and companies) are an understudied topic. Companies' internal interactions can concern the departments in charge of sustainability policies, public affairs, and supply chains (Lambin and Thorlakson, 2018), but empirical evidence shows the importance of marketing's and top management's involvement when establishing sustainability policies for the whole company. Considering the relationships between consumer goods companies and their suppliers, which are private sector actors, it is possible to classify them as vertical interactions -the influence that a company in the value chain exerts on its business partners. ...
... Informal and complex supply-chains imply conditions of production become inscrutable for downstream consumers, making it difficult to assess the overall sustainability performance IDH, 2020). Voluntary sustainability standards (VSS), such as Fairtrade and Rainforest Alliance, emerged as a reaction to the increasing complexity and adverse sustainability impacts of global value chains (Lambin and Thorlakson, 2018;Grabs, 2020). VSS comprise "requirements that producers, traders, manufacturers, retailers or service providers may be asked to meet, relating to a wide range of sustainability metrics" (UNFSS, 2013, p. 4). ...
... VSS comprise "requirements that producers, traders, manufacturers, retailers or service providers may be asked to meet, relating to a wide range of sustainability metrics" (UNFSS, 2013, p. 4). While the design and conceptualization of VSS heavily relies on the expertise and legitimacy of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), adoption and implementation are driven by upstream value chain actors (Lambin and Thorlakson, 2018). ...
Article
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Transparency and equitability are key for improved sustainability outcomes in global value chains. Blockchain technology has been touted as a tool for achieving these ends. However, due to the limited empirical evidence, claims on transparency and sustainability benefits are largely theoretical. We lack an understanding of the benefits and drawbacks for upstream actors within global value chains and how this affects technology adoption. Addressing this gap, we conduct an empirical study to identify the drivers and obstacles for coffee producers in Colombia in adopting blockchain. We base our research on an event-driven and permissioned blockchain model, specifically designed for this research. Applying the Participation Capacity Framework and conducting semi-structured interviews with coffee producers and key informants, we analyze adoption attitudes towards the blockchain application. We further identify opportunities and drawbacks from the producers’ perspective. We set these findings in the context of the Global Value Chain research, considering the existing power relations in the coffee value chain. The top-down nature of blockchain projects raises distributive concerns, as resource investments, implementation burden, and risks are significantly higher upstream, whereas downstream lead firms will benefit most. We identify data squeeze as an additional channel of sustainable supplier squeeze relevant in the case of blockchain initiatives. Data squeeze implies lead firms turning the data obtained through, likely unpaid, labour of blockchain participants into a monetizable assets and marketable value through branding and advertisement. Based on the findings, we identify potential design dimensions and implementation features that can contribute to materializing producer benefits, thus mitigating the risk of a sustainability-driven supplier squeeze.
... Our study provides a framework for systematically monitoring voluntary corporate commitments made by large companies, which may aid in advancing corporate accountability and accounting for these commitments in global models of plastic use, waste, and leakage into the environment. Office operations "performance of a practical work" located in the "place where a particular kind of business is transacted or a service is supplied" 47 excluding the production or industrial operations of a business Standard ''requirements that producers, traders, manufacturers, retailers or service providers may be asked to meet, relating to the environmental impacts of production,'' which can be set by governments, nongovernmental organizations, and companies through multi-stakeholder initiatives 48 Material targeted ...
... Relevance to the circular economy (yes/no) Standards are defined here to be the sustainability requirements that producers, traders, manufacturers, retailers, or service providers may be asked to meet (varying in stringency). 48 For each search string and search platform, we used a cutoff criterion to determine when searches were complete: either (1) after 20% of the hits had been screened or (2) if there were over 10 pages of results without a relevant article, whichever came first. ...
Article
Plastic pollution has caused significant environmental and health challenges. Corporations that contribute to the manufacture, use, and distribution of plastics can play a vital role in addressing global plastic pollution and many are committing to voluntary pledges. However, the extent to which corporations’ voluntary commitments are helping solve the problem remains underexplored. Here, we develop a novel typology to characterize voluntary commitments to reduce plastic pollution made between 2015 and 2020 by 973 companies, including the top 300 of the Fortune Global 500. We find that 72% of these companies have made some form of commitment(s) to reduce plastic pollution. About 67% of companies participating in voluntary environmental programs (VEPs) and 17% of non-VEP participants made measurable and timebound commitments. However, rather than tackle virgin plastics, most companies target packaging and general plastics and frequently emphasize recycling-related efforts. Growing commitments on plastic pollution are made by large and important companies, but significantly more efforts beyond plastic recycling are required to effectively address plastic pollution challenges.
... Voluntary sustainability certification systems have arisen in response to global activism and recognition of the business case for corporate environmental responsibility in the face of shortcomings in public governance [1]. They are among the most mature of voluntary efforts that promote sustainable production of tropical agricultural commodities such as soybean, oil palm, and coffee [2,3]. ...
... Given these limitations, we recommend extending this analysis to include audits through 2022 and beyond, and to countries outside of Indonesia. This would provide insight into how standard design and content changes and improved quality assurance affect auditing and how these changes interact [1] with heterogenous governance and socioenvironmental contexts across global oil palm growing regions. Alternatives to RSPO certification have arisen due to criticisms about its effectiveness and cost [69,70]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Certification systems for sustainable agricultural commodities typically rely on auditors to verify that producers comply with environmental, social, and legal standards. In the oil palm industry, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification system promises to address core sectoral sustainability concerns—including deforestation, fire, biodiversity loss, peatland drainage, forced labor, and land tenure conflict—by applying third-party audits to large-scale oil palm growers. Audits are designed to detect noncompliances with the standard, and to ensure that growers resolve these nonconformities. Yet, the role of RSPO audits in generating additionality across key sustainability issues remains unclear. Here, we compiled and analyzed data from a timeseries of annual audit reports for two-thirds of all certified oil palm growers in Indonesia as of December 2015 (n = 114 certified growers and 262 reports). We found that certified growers were required to address a median of four noncompliances per audit (range 0–37), with more noncompliances detected at initial certification than during subsequent audits. Certification demanded the most changes under our thematic areas of Waste & Pollution (9% of all noncompliances) and Employment (7%) and the least changes in Fire (<1%) and Corporate Social Responsibility programs (<1%). Thus, while many RSPO certified growers make real changes to achieve certification, these changes do not always address core sectoral performance concerns. Regression analysis indicated that RSPO member and certification body were significantly correlated with noncompliance frequency. This suggests that each member has a different cost of compliance and indicates heterogeneous stringency of standard application by certification bodies. We recommend that future research evaluate how post-2015 changes in RSPO assurance processes have interacted with a more robust and comprehensive certification standard to alter the additionality from third-party audits.
... As a reaction, multinational corporations have increasingly turned to various private governance mechanisms to address sustainability challenges. These include voluntary sustainability standards (VSS)-expressed in labels and certification schemes, such as organic, fair trade, and Rainforest Alliance-codes of conduct, roundtables, public-private partnerships, direct trade relationships, corporate social responsibility programs, and corporate pledges (Bager and Lambin, 2020;Lambin and Thorlakson, 2018;Thorlakson et al., 2018). ...
... Information sharing along the value chain-from the producer via the intermediates and retailers to the end-user-on processes and standards lies at the core of most of these governance interventions. However, downstream actors have little information available to guide consumption decisions and mostly rely on various eco-labels for sustainable choices (Grabs, 2017;Lambin and Thorlakson, 2018). In addition, most standards do not preserve much information beyond the label itself, rendering it difficult for consumers to send a signal through the value chain to the producers. ...
Article
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Information sharing lies at the core of most governance interventions within agro-food commodity supply-chains, such as certification standards or direct trade relationships. However, actors have little information available to guide sustainable consumption decisions beyond simple labels. Blockchain technology can potentially alleviate the numerous sustainability problems related to agro-food commodity supply-chains by fostering traceability and transparency. Despite significant research on blockchain, there is limited understanding of the concrete barriers and benefits and potential applications of blockchain in real-world settings. Here, we present a case study of blockchain implementation in a coffee supply-chain. Our aim is to assess the potential of blockchain technology to promote sustainability in coffee supply chains through increased traceability and transparency and to identify barriers and opportunities for this. While our pilot implementation clearly illustrates certain benefits of blockchain, it also suggests that blockchain is no silver bullet for delivering agro-food supply chain sustainability. Knowledge on provenance and transparency of information on quality and sustainability can help trigger transformation of consumer behaviour, but the actual value lies in digitising the supply chain to increase efficiency and reduce costs, disputes, and fraud, while providing more insight end-to-end through product provenance and chain-of-custody information. We identify a need to understand and minimize supply chain barriers before we can reap the full benefits of digitalization and decentralization provided by blockchain technology.
... Discussions about urban green belts initiatives point out that institutions must work on multiple scales to preserve urban ecosystem services and NPAs (Ernstson et al., 2010;Guerra et al., 2014). However, to carry out integrated management, it is necessary to consider the multiscale and multisector aspects that contribute to the coordination of the individual and collective actions of organizations; this coordination involves private and public actors formulating and implementing policies to develop hybrid institutional structures of a public-private nature, which are considered a social innovation (Lemos and Agrawal, 2006;Connolly et al., 2014;Lambin and Thorlakson, 2018). Other authors suggest that it is essential to consider green spaces as a part of urban infrastructure rather than as simply a measure of beautification or conservation; thus, the formation of interconnected green areas or NPA networks can simultaneously contribute to the generation of recreational spaces and the production of essential ecosystem services for cities (Peijun and Deyong, 2014;Haaland et al., 2015). ...
... In the cases analysed, there are no cross-cutting policies or intersectoral policies with a metropolitan perspective, at least in terms of NPA conservation and urban development, that promote the convergence of the private, social and public sectors and the convergence of public administration related to forestry, water, conservation and urban development. It is necessary to build and promote hybrid governance schemes and participatory, democratic and collaborative interface spaces (Lemos and Agrawal, 2006;Lambin and Thorlakson, 2018). In the cases analysed, non-governmental actors are demanding changes to authorities' decision-making processes and intervention actions because "urban development" has focused on the growth and densification of the metropolises without a long-term vision, rendering invisible the social and environmental relevance of natural spaces for urban ecosystems. ...
Article
The manuscript analyses the importance of the integrated management of urban and ecological systems to achieve sustainable development from the perspective of various social actors linked to natural protected areas (NPAs) located in urban contexts. The literature has mainly taken an urban planning perspective; however, fewer studies have been conducted on the environmental governance processes and collective actions carried out by governmental and non-governmental actors to achieve management integrated at the territorial and institutional levels. The objective of the manuscript is to study the collective actions and proposals carried out by strategic social actors linked to the management of urban NPA systems in Guadalajara and Monterrey, Mexico, to solve the many problems they are facing. An exploratory mixed-methods study was conducted to analyse the perceptions of 64 governmental and non-governmental actors concerning the challenges they face in the conservation of urban NPA systems and ecosystem services that they provide. The initiatives of strategic actors regarding the metropolitan management of NPA systems were analysed and combined with proposed hypothetical green belts that integrate urban NPA systems. A multitemporal analysis of land use and vegetation changes was carried out in combination with a study of the political-administrative structure of metropolitan areas with regard to the interconnection among NPAs. The results indicate that strategic actors perceive the following: (1) metropolitan management is necessary to achieve the comprehensive management of territory and NPA conservation; (2) to do so requires cross-cutting or intersectoral policies from a metropolitan perspective; and (3) the participation of non-governmental actors is indispensable in generating information and innovative ideas to establish decision-making processes and democratic and participatory urban planning institutions. This research seeks to provide useful findings for decision makers and those in charge of public policy in the implementation of sustainable urban and metropolitan policies.
... To succeed in doing this, governmental actions are at foremost priority as they can regulate markets, as well as the use of natural resources (Keskitalo and Kulyasova, 2009), and support innovation and development at a macroeconomic level. In addition, collective initiatives from multistakeholders open up a set of possibilities to propel sustainable pathways (Lambin and Thorlakson, 2018). ...
Book
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Proceedings of the 5th Symposium on Agri-Tech Economics for Sustainable Futures. Global Institute for Agri-Tech Economics, Food, Land & Agribusiness Management Department, Harper Adams University. Newport, United Kingdom, 19-20 September 2022
... The field of sustainability sometimes uses categorizations based on the initiator: firms (with environmental and social programs), governments (on any scale) and NGOs (non-government organizations) (Van Marrewijk, 2003;Lambin and Thorlakson, 2018). Sustainability NGO examples are World Wildlife Foundation and Greenpeace. ...
... For example, corporate lobbying against enforceable legislation to reduce the environmental impacts of business activity likely contributes to entrenched political debates (Vesa et al. 2020). Thus, as the lowest common denominator, policymakers in many countries rely on voluntary environmental action by the private sector (Lambin and Thorlakson 2018). However, self-regulation delegates the task of reducing environmental externalities from economic activity directly to firms, even though extant literature shows that voluntary measures might not result in substantial improvements (LeBaron and Lister 2021), and partly deserve to be dismissed as "greenwashing" (Lyon and Montgomery 2015). ...
Article
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Environmental governance in many high-income democracies relies to some extent on self-regulation by the private sector. Yet, this policy mode is contested and proponents of top-down government regulation argue that voluntary corporate sustainability commitments remain shallow and rarely are more than greenwashing. I assess to what extent firms’ business conduct is subject to societal checks and balances, in particular, whether public support for regulation constitutes a control mechanism of corporate contributions to environmental goods. I rely on an original survey experiment (N = 2112) conducted with a representative sample of the Swiss voting population. The analysis shows that accusing firms of greenwashing reduces both citizens’ perceived effectiveness of self-regulation and perceived synergy of corporate profits and environmental protection. However, this attitudinal shift only translates into modest updates in respondents’ policy preferences. As a result, short-run shifts in public support for regulation are an unlikely societal control mechanism of business conduct.
... Sustainable agriculture is defined as production to meet the demand of the present without compromising the needs of future generations [20][21][22][23]. It cannot be achieved without the cooperation of private and public sectors based on sustainable standards [24]. Following Allahyari et al. [25], sustainable agriculture is measured as a multidimensional construct based on social responsibility, environmental sustainability, economic viability, and production efficiency. ...
Article
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For decades, agriculture has been central to economic growth and development in Pakistan. However, endemic rural poverty hinders the performance of agricultural production, and thus deteriorates the sustainable development perspectives of the agricultural sector and the entire country. The need for agricultural reform emphasizes raising farmers’ incomes as a cornerstone of the sustainable development of rural areas, and this study attempts to reveal the effects of foreign aid and government policies on the level of rural poverty in Pakistan. In total, 384 farmers from major agricultural areas of Pakistan completed the survey-based questionnaire. The partial least square structural equation modelling technique tested the results. They, using sustainable agriculture practices, improved agricultural production positively and significantly. Agriculture production positively and significantly reduces or mitigates poverty. This study aimed to reveal the role of foreign aid in sustaining agricultural production and eradicating rural poverty. Foreign aid positively moderated the association between sustainable agriculture practices and agricultural production. In addition, government policies negatively, yet insignificantly, moderate the association between agriculture production and poverty reduction. Furthermore, the findings indicate that agriculture production positively and significantly mediates the association between sustainable agriculture practices and poverty reduction. The study contributes to the literature by improving the understanding of linkages within the poverty-policies-aid-sustainability framework.
... Drivers for VSS adoption by corporations are diverse; Marx et al. (2021) list five major drivers: first, consumer demand, as their consciousness about their consumption foot print increases; second, brand protection, especially to protect themselves from being target of damaging media campaigns and boycotts; third, government regulations especially when the governments lack the capacity to track all products regulations and depend on private certification seals to play the supervision role; fourth, substituting failing multilateral efforts, as it happened at the end of International Coffee Agreement (ICA) in 1989; and fifth, reaction to other VSS, for example, some industry driven created in response to NGO driven ones. For example, Lambin and Thorlakson (2018) explain the emergence of some company or sector-wide standards as a response to the pressure from the NGOs advocating for the adoption of more sustainable practices. Grabs (2021) also points out how these actors are slowly moving to a more collaborative approach. ...
Article
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In 2015, the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Voluntary sustainability standards (VSSs) precede the SDGs and are a major governance tool for sustainability. Consequently, it is important to understand the role of VSS towards the achievement of the SDGs. This article contributes to answer this question through a systematic review of literature. Results revealed research gaps for key SDGs, such as SDG 5 (Gender Equality) and SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities). Another relevant finding is that more than half of the studied variables showed no significant difference between intervention or control group, or no significant change over time. This article encourages VSSs and policymakers to work collaboratively towards the use of common indicators and increased data transparency.
... To succeed in doing this, governmental actions are at foremost priority as they can regulate markets, as well as the use of natural resources (Keskitalo and Kulyasova, 2009), and support innovation and development at a macroeconomic level. In addition, collective initiatives from multistakeholders open up a set of possibilities to propel sustainable pathways (Lambin and Thorlakson, 2018). ...
Conference Paper
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Rabbit production is increasingly becoming a source of livelihood to many households in Nigeria. Unfortunately, a recent incidence of Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD), which is a virulent and rapidly spreading disease of rabbits adversely affected the Nigerian rabbit industry and caused significant economic loss to farmers. Hence, this study assessed the coping strategies adopted by rabbit farmers as response to the RHD outbreak in the study area. A snowball sampling technique was adopted for selecting 120 affected rabbit farmers from whom data utilized for the study were collected using structured questionnaire. The obtained data were analysed using descriptive statistics to describe the rabbit farmers based on their socioeconomic characteristics and the different coping strategies adopted; and Multivariate Probit (MVP) Regression Model to determine the factors influencing the rabbit farmersˈ adoption of coping strategies. The result from the MVP analysis revealed that age of the farmer, size of household, membership of cooperative, extension contacts, amount of credit accessed, income per rabbit production cycle, and income from other sources significantly influenced rabbit farmersˈ adoption of coping strategies. It is, therefore, recommended that the farmers should join farming cooperatives so that they can have access to useful resources and relevant information that can help them cope with the risks involved in the business. In addition, extension education and outreach should be frequently provided to the rabbit farmers to avail them of advisory services that can help with mitigating the impact of the risks involved in the business.
... These factors contributed to the emergence of the so-called social responsibility of organizations as well as the issuance of many laws and legislation committing the business organizations to assume their social responsibilities (Abdawi et al., 2019). The attention in the concept of social responsibility has significantly increased by governments, human rights associations, and nature conservation societies to support the business organizations to achieve profits and returns while ensuring the safety of their activities' impact on both the environment and society (Lambin & Thorlakson, 2018). In addition, the social responsibility of organizations has become an urgent issue leading to many benefits for both business organizations and communities (Galbreath & Shum, 2012). ...
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This study aimed to examine the moderating role of green human resources management practices on the relationship between commitment to social responsibility and sustainable performance. To achieve the study objective data was collected through a questionnaire that was distributed to the study population, which consisted of all the (200) employees. To analyze the study data and examine its variables, the simple regression analysis was used to examine the impact of the independent variable on the dependent variable, and the hierarchal multiple regression to examine the impact of the moderating variable. The results have shown that the organizations' commitment to social responsibility has a positive and significant impact on achieving sustainability in their performance. The results also indicated that the application of green human resources management practices has a positive role in improving the impact of social responsibility on sustainable performance. Based on the results, the study recommended that business organizations should be interested in demonstrating the importance of maintaining the environment in their recruitment processes and staffing people with a tendency to follow green environmental practices and policies. Business organizations should be interested also in including environmental and social issues in the company's vision and mission.
... Private standards can help enforce existing national law and help farmers understand and implement it, leverage sector specific expertise to facilitate change in producers' practices, provide a greater incentive to comply with demands through market access than fines and other mechanisms usually employed by the government, focus on different domains than government regulations, allow governments to focus their auditing resources, and rely on government data and information for private enforcement. Governments can also mandate companies meet certain standards in engaging their suppliers and governing the supply chain, for example in tracking potential human rights abuses further upstream (Lambin and Thorlakson, 2018). ...
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Supermarkets have become a major actor in driving a shift to more sustainable agricultural practices throughout the agri-food value chains, using certification schemes and other instruments known as non-state market driven (NSMD) gov-ernance. This paper explores what factors may affect farmers' willingness to join such mechanism once it is in place, based on the case study of pepper growers in the Arava region in southern Israel. Based on an extensive farmers survey and interviews with other stakeholders in the region, we find that regional characteristics such as export dependency, homogeneity in regional production patterns, prior experience and farm level awareness are tied with NSMD adoption. Adoption is also made possible by the availability of services offering alternative practices to the farmers, and the different ways public policy supports the shift, and in turn is affected by it.
... Study the indirect and long-term effectiveness of certification: To evaluate the effectiveness of forest certification on larger spatial scales, more research on the indirect and long-term impacts of certification (i.e., spillovers and leakage) should be conducted. Such analysis requires a sound understanding of the causal mechanisms, economic processes, and socio-ecological interactions that affect certification effectiveness [13,144,145] and the consideration of extended time frames. Examples of indirect and long-term effects are the impact of road construction that facilitates access to forest clearing or post-logging effects on concessions that lost their certification status [146]. ...
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In the face of accelerating forest degradation and deforestation, forest certification emerged in the early 1990s as a voluntary and market-based mechanism to promote environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world’s forests. A key goal of forest certification is to reduce forest degradation and deforestation while enhancing forest enterprises’ economic viability. However, whether forest certification contributes to meeting such goals is unclear. We conducted a systematic literature review on such impacts, reviewing empirical studies published between 1993 and 2021 regarding the impact of forest certification on forest degradation, deforestation, and economic viability. Drawing on 98 empirical studies, we analyzed these impacts and provide an overview of the studies’ findings in terms of geographical distribution, indicators considered, and the certification schemes assessed. We found that the impact of forest certification on deforestation has been specifically understudied (n = 11) compared to forest degradation (n = 42) and economic viability (n = 45). On deforestation, studies have focused on Africa (45%) and South America (36%); on forest degradation, studies have focused on Europe (40%) and Asia (20%); on economic viability, studies have focused on Asia (33%), Europe (33%) and South America (20%). We found positive-neutral (54%; 46%) impacts on deforestation, positive-neutral-mixed (70%; 21%; 9%) impacts on forest degradation and positive-negative-mixed (50%; 33%; 17%) impacts on economic viability. We did not find clear evidence that impact is linked to a specific region or certification scheme. However, scarce evidence on the impacts of the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), the application of various methods, and site-specific indicators in the individual studies challenge such comparison and hamper the generalization of findings. This systematic review provides an overview of the state-of-the-art research on the effectiveness and economic viability of forest certification, evaluates and discusses the current evidence base, and concludes with future research lines.
... This "intertemporal governance choice calculus" (Williamson 1999(Williamson , p. 1104) faced by actors has been identified in the past but without significant conceptual precision or development. As one SES gets further interconnected to one another (McGinnis 2011), we argue that it is increasingly important to examine intertemporal governance interactions, based on the fundamental observation that rules governing economic, social, and environmental processes take form through decisions made across places and time spans in various governance systems within which action situations are layered and embedded (Cole et al. 2019;Dou et al. 2018;Lambin and Thorlakson 2018;Möck et al. 2019). As a result, institutional change in one place raises issues in others over time ). ...
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The Brazilian Amazon faces three dominant governance challenges that have become increasingly interconnected over time and now affect each other: managing agricultural expansion, reducing deforestation, and mitigating urban floods. This region exemplifies that the governance of one social-ecological system (SES) in the Anthropocene can no longer be thought of in isolation of others because, together, they form a complex network of flows and spillovers to manage. Studying the interconnection of different decision-making areas, however, calls for an intertemporal examination of governance that integrates different methodological approaches. We use the Network of Adjacent Action Situations (NAS), Combined IAD-SES (CIS) framework, and the telecoupling framework to study these three interrelated processes in the Amazon. Employing mixed-methods research, including fieldwork covering each of these processes, we demonstrate how the governance of multiple SESs represents an intertemporal governance challenge. Our paper contributes to the SES governance and NAS literature by linking governance issues generally looked at separately and offering an understanding of the governance connections between telecoupled processes. Beyond its contribution to Brazilian Amazon governance, this paper offers an integrated framework that may be useful to study the interconnection of governance of NAS in other places.
... One of the ways in which such global rulemaking has taken place is through voluntary sustainability standards (VSS) [11][12][13][14]. Different constellations of collaboration between public and private actors [12,15] have resulted in a multiplicity of VSS [16,17] addressing all kinds of sustainability issues along global value chains [18,19]. Despite lacking central enforcement, the adoption of VSS by value chain participants has become ubiquitous [20]. ...
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Private governance by means of voluntary sustainability standards (VSS) has become ubiquitous, especially for the governance of sustainability issues along global value chains in agriculture. As VSS have multiplied and proliferated, their commonalities and differences are not always easily discernable to value chain participants and their stakeholders. Concurrently, extant research is ambiguous on the degree of harmonization or diversification of standards currently available. Two core aspects have received particular attention: the meaning of sustainability reflected in VSS and the degree of stakeholder inclusion in standard governance. It is the purpose of this study to compare VSS from different types of standard setting initiatives regarding these two core aspects by analyzing their purported sustainability worldview and the inclusiveness of their institutional design. The quantitative exploration covers exemplars offered by inter-governmental organizations, business initiatives, non-governmental organizations as well as multi-stakeholder initiatives. The analysis finds significant ambiguity of sustainability worldviews across the sample, as well as almost universal uptake of design characteristics to enhance inclusiveness irrespective of the type of standard setting initiative. However, there are also significant differences in the way sustainability is understood among VSS offered by different standard setting initiatives.
... Although Indonesia ranks as the largest palm oil producer with the largest number of smallholders, in-depth discussion on ISPO is still lacking. The literature normally associates ISPO with the Indonesian government's attempt to ensure palm oil sustainability through less stringent standards [16][17][18]. Discussions on the economic and political aspects of ISPO consider ISPO to be Indonesia's response to the demand for improved sustainability in palm oil governance that is already in place without state involvement [4,[19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28]. Past research has focused on discussing interactions among ISPO actors and between ISPO and other stakeholders [29][30][31][32][33]. Topics regarding smallholders primarily relate to the various challenges and smallholders' readiness in implementing ISPO [34][35][36][37]. ...
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The Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) is a mandatory certification for palm oil plantations based on compliance with Indonesia’s regulations. Its implementation has been slow, particularly for independent smallholders that face problems of complicated requirements, limited capacity, and limited funding. Meanwhile, limited incentives are in place, either in the form of premium prices, ease of regulation, or funding. This article aims to elaborate on the role of incentives and their options in supporting the acceleration of ISPO implementation to ensure and improve the market access of smallholders. It identifies ways to develop incentives to facilitate the acceleration of ISPO certification and alternative financing sources available to support this. The method of this research is based on qualitative methodology using a literature review, policy document analysis, and in-depth interviews with informants from the government and smallholders. The analysis of this article shows that incentives are needed in the form of funding, regulatory measures, technical assistance, promotion, and rewards for good practices to provide better facilitation and financial support for the regulatory compliance in the legal, managerial and financial aspects of the ISPO. These incentives target government and smallholders. Implications for enabling these incentives include the improvement of government coordination, improved understanding of challenges faced by smallholders, and adoption of innovative approaches to manage financial resources, which are crucial to facilitate smallholders’ capacity and organizational improvement.
... Principles of adaptation should be integrated in the guidelines that will orient the design of interventions at the local level, including investments by public agencies and private sector such as cooperatives and companies expected to support farmers in complying with the mechanism. Stronger land governance capacity is also key in enabling conditions for private companies to adopt voluntary sustainability standards, as they reduce the risks for standards to be met as well as costs for traceability (Lambin and Thorlakson, 2018). There is a rising interest for matching sustainably produced and zero-deforestation agricultural commodities with territorial (jurisdictional) approaches to reduce deforestation; in this context territorial brands or landscape labels have been proposed a promising strategy for the private and public sector to advance toward their respective sustainability agendas under so called "hybrid" governance arrangements (see Diaz-Chavez and van Dam, 2020). ...
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Coffee is a major global commodity whose production is sustained by and provides livelihoods for millions of smallholder families in the tropics. However, it is highly sensitive to climate change and the climate risk family farmer's face from direct impacts on coffee production are often compounded by further impacts on the physical and social landscapes and infrastructure. We examine the vulnerability (sensitivity and adaptive capacity) of smallholder coffee farmers in northeastern Peru via the lens of their central participation in a value chain that mediates access to livelihood assets, affecting their adaptive capacity and aspects of their sensitivity. Using a staged and participatory, mixed-methods approach, we sought to understand the territorial climate exposure, the structure of the regional value chain and role of different actors in supporting farmer adaptive capacity, and assess the vulnerability of the entire value chain (including other actors in addition to farmers). We found heterogeneity not only in the potential impact of climate change on coffee production, future adaptation needs and vulnerability of farmers across the territory (among elevational zones and regions), but in the distribution of vulnerability among value chain actors. Farmers are the most vulnerable actors, simultaneously the most sensitive and with the lowest adaptive capacity, issues stemming from their strong territorial dependence and pre-existing social and economic asymmetries with actors in the coffee value chain who are not as territorially dependent (e.g., private companies). We make the case that supporting the adaptation of smallholder farmers in the study region requires moving beyond a value-chain approach to a territorial systems perspective that more intentionally involves those actors with stronger, locally vested interests (e.g., local governments and institutions) in their adaptation and requires the strengthening capacities of these actors in various areas.
... MySQL's database technology is also very simple and easy to use while maintaining data consistency and integrity, as well as some other advanced database management features. e server framework used in the platform is the most popular SSM framework, which is very convenient and easy to configure and use, and compared with the traditional Servlet, the integration framework greatly improves the development efficiency of developers [19]. For the use of caching technology, nowadays the client, browser, and server-side have their mature caching technology. ...
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In specific judicial practice, the ODR mechanism has played an important role in the settlement of e-commerce disputes and network disputes. However, ODR is still in the exploratory stage in many aspects, and it is inevitable that there will be some problems. This article focuses on the A priori algorithm and frequent pattern growth algorithm in association with rule mining learning. The shortcomings of A priori algorithm and frequent pattern growth algorithm are described and researched accordingly, and an improved algorithm for learning A priori association rules based on matrix is proposed. By analyzing the international commercial dispute resolution mechanism in the Internet era, this article constructs an international commercial dispute resolution mechanism platform. By analyzing the process of disputes in foreign trade e-commerce transactions, this article proposes a method to automatically capture gateway dispute information through automated management system tools to improve the efficiency of the gateway. The algorithm in this paper scans the transaction database only once, and according to the matrix structure, it performs the logical AND operation of the row vector representing the data item in the matrix, and it learns frequent item sets quickly and accurately. The entire process effectively reduces the time consumption and space occupation required for frequent item set learning. According to the effective measurement method of the association rules, the effective association rules are extracted from the frequent item set. Through the realization of functions such as allocation, viewing, dispute handling, and statistics in the management tool, the progress and processing efficiency of the gateway dispute handling can be effectively managed. In addition, this article gives the dispute handling process of the website itself, adds the process of automatic completion of disputes by buyers and sellers through agreements, and improves the tools of the CS manual handling management system. The data results show that the method in this paper greatly improves the efficiency of handling disputes in foreign trade e-commerce transactions.
... This is not the case for the private sector, where corporations are competi- The literature on corporate-based voluntary environmental programs is substantial 5,29 , but such programs are primarily focused on specific challenges and few (if any) have to our knowledge been facilitated and enabled by university-based scientists. Many voluntary corporate sustainability initiatives have been initiated by environmental NGOs 30 and this is also the case for several market-based seafood sustainability initiatives 31 . However many CEOs in our study expressed an initial unwillingness to work with NGOs, as they were perceived to have a pre-defined agenda and often narrow issue focus 17 . ...
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The biosphere crisis requires changes to existing business practices. We ask how corporations can become sustainability leaders, when constrained by multiple barriers to collaboration for biosphere stewardship. We describe how scientists motivated, inspired and engaged with ten of the world’s largest seafood companies, in a collaborative process aimed to enable science-based and systemic transformations (2015–2021). CEOs faced multiple industry crises in 2015 that incentivized novel approaches. New scientific insights, an invitation to collaborate, and a bold vision of transformative change towards ocean stewardship, created new opportunities and direction. Co-creation of solutions resulted in new knowledge and trust, a joint agenda for action, new capacities, international recognition, formalization of an organization, increased policy influence, time-bound goals, and convergence of corporate change. Independently funded scientists helped remove barriers to cooperation, provided means for reflection, and guided corporate strategies and actions toward ocean stewardship. By 2021, multiple individuals exercised leadership and the initiative had transitioned from preliminary and uncomfortable conversations, to a dynamic, operational organization, with capacity to perform global leadership in the seafood industry. Mobilizing transformational agency through learning, collaboration, and innovation represents a cultural evolution with potential to redirect and accelerate corporate action, to the benefit of business, people and the planet.
... New standards are posited to enable consumers, investors, policymakers, and workers to authenticate or "distinguish good companies from good marketing" (Marquis, 2020: 12). Although prior work has emphasized voluntary certifications (Lambin & Thorlakson, 2018;Reinecke et al., 2012) and enabling legislation (Berchicci, Dowell, & King, 2012;Vogel, 2007;Zietsma & Lawrence, 2010) as two potent pathways to foster sustainable business, researchers have not examined how these diverse efforts may complement or counteract one another, or the effects of contextual differences on these outcomes (Arag on-Correa et al., 2020). ...
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Myriad cross-sector initiatives seek to remake capitalism into a more just, sustainable, and inclusive system. But how do these distributed efforts—which often vary in strength—interact? We contribute by attending to the interaction between weak and strong governance reforms. Drawing on longstanding research on organizational values and the sociology of law, we theorize how the enactment of weak and broad sustainability legislation is likely to increase pressure on values-driven businesses to pursue both values authentication and material authentication by way of strong third-party certification. We test our conceptual model by examining the effects of the frequently criticized benefit corporation legislation passed in 36 U.S. jurisdictions on the related B Corporation certification. We find that both new certifications and recertifications increase in states with such legislation, and that these effects are amplified or attenuated depending on corporate sustainability norms in the region. Taken together, our findings contribute to the intensifying societal conversation regarding the prospects for remaking capitalism by illustrating how even weak legislation can contribute to systems change not only by encouraging incremental sustainability reforms within a field, but also by triggering an authentication imperative that mobilizes values-driven businesses to pursue rigorous certifications.
Chapter
Companies are increasingly being asked to take responsibility for the social and environmental impacts of their operations. These pressures from the market and consumers have led to an increase in demand for sustainable certification of processes and products, making the Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS) an issue present in businesses and global value chains (GVC). The adoption of voluntary standards provides mechanisms to face the threats and opportunities faced by companies in increasingly global environments that demand greater corporate social responsibility (CSR) mainly due to the interest of society and consumers for safe goods and services that do not harm the environment. In addition, consumers and companies are more likely to make purchase decisions based on ethical criteria, posing new governance challenges to improve transparency, accountability, and sustainability across chains. Participation in multi-sector sustainability alliances with diverse actors with a reputation for social and environmental responsibility helps to reduce accusations of “greenwashing” and a clear allocation of rights and responsibilities among market actors. Studies addressing VSS have been substantial and multidisciplinary and appear in many disciplines. Companies are increasingly being asked to take responsibility for the social and environmental impacts of their operations. These pressures from the market and consumers have led to an increase in demand for sustainable certification of processes and products, making VSS an issue present in business and GVC. The adoption of voluntary standards provides mechanisms to face the threats and opportunities faced by companies in increasingly global environments that require greater CSR, mainly due to the interest of society and consumers for safe goods and services that do not harm the environment. In addition, consumers and companies are more likely to make purchase decisions based on ethical criteria, posing new governance challenges to improve transparency, accountability, and sustainability across chains. Participation of the GVCs in multi-sector sustainability alliances with diverse actors with a reputation for social and environmental responsibility helps to alleviate charges of “greenwashing,” legalization, and a clear allocation of rights and responsibilities among market actors. Studies addressing VSS have been substantial and multidisciplinary and appear in many disciplines, including value chain management and operations, strategy, accounting, economics, and political science. This chapter links VSS to CSR and their contributions, including value chain management and operations, strategy, accounting, economics, and political science. This chapter links VSS to CSR and its contributions.
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This article explores the contribution that the figure of economy can make to understanding gender in contemporary Britain, focusing on gender as a social quality and legal category that is produced, allocated and used. The article proceeds in two parts. The first part considers the politics of sex-based feminism and gender-as-diversity through an economic frame. The second part focuses, in detail, on one specific juncture where these diverging politics meet: decertification – a law reform proposal to dismantle the system for assigning, registering and regulating legal sex. Decertification is a controversial strategy. Advocates argue that self-expression and interpersonal communication, whether through gender or against it, is hindered by a state-based disciplinary certification system. Critics disagree. They argue that dismantling legal communication about a person's sex makes it harder to put categories of female and woman to remedial use. Drawing on other uses of certification, including commercial ones, this article suggests that certification not only communicates information about a process, quality or thing; it also contributes to their production. The impact of decertification on how gender is produced, what gets produced as gender and the uses to which gender is put are central to determining whether decertification is beneficial to a progressive transformative gender politics.
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Certification of sustainability standards is an important governance strategy aimed at enhancing the human well-being outcomes of agri-food value chains. While the impacts of certification on well-being are positive for some farmers under certain conditions, they are insignificant or adverse for others. Many barriers can impede positive impacts of certification on well-being. Alternative or complementary strategies such as inclusive business and solidarity economy may challenge these barriers. However, since certification, inclusive business and solidarity economy strategies are studied in isolation, their precise similarities and differences, their interplay and their relative efficacy and limitations remain elusive. Therefore, this paper explores to what extent and how inclusive business and solidarity economy strategies may overcome the persistent governance and economic barriers that limit well-being impacts of certification. We explore four purposively selected cases of inclusive business and solidarity economy strategies from the cacao value chains connecting Peru and Switzerland. Results show that value chain actors combine different specific elements of the three strategies (certification, inclusiveness and solidarity) into portfolios of instruments, which reflect their value chain role and organizational missions. These instrument portfolios may address some of the barriers of certification schemes, but they come with their own challenges and limitations. We conclude that promising future research may use comparative research designs to disentangle specific instruments of inclusiveness, solidarity, and certification; to build typologies of instrument portfolios; to understand their interaction with systemic change in markets and land-use systems; and to specify the conditions under which value chain actors can use specific instruments to improve well-being outcomes of agri-food value chains.
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Purpose: It is nowadays believed that the effective implementation of the principles of sustainable development in companies requires cooperation in entire supply chains. Companies are guided by various motivators and face various barriers to the implementation of sustainable supply chain practices (SSCPs); however, so far, no attention has been given to examining the relationship between them. Thus, the aim of the paper is to examine such relationships. Design/methodology/approach: The paper presents the results of a survey conducted on a sample of 500 companies. The aim of the paper is achieved by examining Spearman’s correlation coefficient. Findings: In most cases, a positive correlation is observed between the motivators for and barriers to SSCPs implementation. Additionally, such dependence occurs more often for external motivators, compared to internal motivators. Research implications: The activities supporting the implementation of SSCPs should concentrate on strengthening internal motivators in companies (e.g., by propagating relevant knowledge) as well as overcoming internal barriers. The importance of external motivators seems to be reduced by the coexistence of barriers. Originality/value: This paper contributes to supply chain and sustainable development literature by identifying a positive correlation between motivators for and barriers to SSCPs implementation. Such a finding may be important to policymakers, as it suggest that concentrating merely on motivating companies to implement sustainability principles may not be sufficient if it is not accompanied by barrier-breaking mechanisms.
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Coffee is a global value chain that has been going through many transformations, seeking to transition to sustainability. In this paper, a technological innovation system from multi-level perspective institutional dimensions (macro, meso and micro) was adopted to analyze the coffee value chain in Brazil and in Colombia. Our conceptual contribution lies on the connection across institutional levels, to understand sustainability transition. Thirty interviews with stakeholders from both countries were conducted. Results indicate that macro-institutions have a relevant effect on coffee-producing properties (micro-level), and meso-institutions play a central role in differentiating the way in which agents adopted voluntary sustainability standards (VSS) in each country. Results also pointed out the importance of meso-institutions in the implementation of VSS at micro-level, in both countries, although in Colombia organizations at meso-level seem to be less supportive of adopting VSS than they are in Brazil.
Article
Agricultural sustainability standards are an important way of reducing commodity expansion's pressures on biodiversity. Despite the increase of global area under certification and mounting evidence of positive socioeconomic outcomes, certification-derived conservation benefits are less clear. We applied a robust counterfactual approach with a difference-indifference methodology to quantify the environmental consequences of certification in one of the largest coffee-producing areas in the world, in southern Brazil, within the Atlantic Forest and Cerrado biomes. We evaluated whether the adoption of certification standards affected native vegetation regeneration and deforestation, the proportion of vegetation deficit within each farm (the required area to achieve Federal Legislation required vegetation cover), and the conservation of sensitive vegetation protected under law across 531 certified farms. We did not detect certification-derived effects on the natural vegetation cover deficit and on deforestation and regeneration rates, which were low for certified and non-certified farms. However, we found that certified farms are restoring more sensitive areas than non-certified farms in the Atlantic Forest, which indicates a potential combined effect between law enforcement and certification. We suggest that in more consolidated landscapes, certification beneficial impacts on deforestation and regeneration might be more limited than observed in areas with weaker governance, such as agricultural frontiers or low-income countries. However, our results demonstrate the potential for certification schemes to complement and promote environmental legislation compliance. These potential combined effects between private sustainability standards and compliance with government environmental policies could provide a potent tool for improving the effectiveness of certification schemes in other high-biodiversity landscapes.
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Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSS) are prominent governance instruments that define and verify sustainable agricultural land use at farm and supply chain levels. However, agricultural production can prompt spillover dynamics with implications for sustainability that go beyond these scales, e.g., through runoff of chemical inputs or long-distance migrant worker flows. Scientific evidence on the governance of spillovers through VSS is, however, limited. This study investigates the extent to which VSS regulate a set of 21 environmental and socio-economic spillovers of agricultural land use. To this end, we assessed the spillover coverage in 100 sustainability standards. We find that VSS have a clear tendency to cover environmental spillovers more extensively than socio-economic spillovers. Further, we show how spillover coverage differs across varying types of standard-setting organizations and VSS verification mechanisms. Finally, we discuss the role and limitations that VSS can have in addressing the revealed gaps.
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The book studies emergence and consolidation of voluntary sustainability standards (VSS); private standards defining sustainability-related product features. The book takes stock of their success and their potential in mediating between economic and non-economic concerns of global production. Despite their private and voluntary nature, VSS generate profound consequences for the producers seeking certification, for the consumers purchasing certified products, and for others affected by their standards. VSS are used by public authorities in the EU as a functional complement to public measures regulating global value chains. At this juncture of market proliferation and public use of private regimes, this book studies how public authority can control, coordinate and review VSS. It studies how the regulation of VSS could unfold through substantive and procedural legal requirements in the domain of European Union law and World Trade Organisation law, as well as through the incentives offered by VSS employment in public measures.
Article
The ongoing growth of concerns with regard to the sustainability of the planet has led to the increasing expansion on international agendas of commercial certification schemes based on Voluntary Sustainability Standards (VSSs). This has influenced public planning and policy-making, and stimulated the interest of researchers. The application of VSSs plays an important role in the transition of supply chains toward sustainability. These initiatives promote appropriate social, economic, and environmental practices for the production of goods and services, as well as meeting the demands of environmentally-conscious consumers. However, the diverging definitions of the concept, and the contradicting interpretations of the impacts of VSSs exacerbate the complexity of the analysis of their real impacts on Global Value Chains. The present study is based on a systematic review of the literature on VSS based on the Systematic Search Flow method. The principal objectives of the study were to identify the prevailing groups of researchers on the VSS theme and their perceptions regarding the sustainable gains with the adoption of these standards. A number of different terms have been used in the literature on standards, although “Voluntary Sustainability Standards” has been consolidated by its use in recent years, and provides a focal point for the analysis of standards of sustainability. Two different streams of thought were identified here. These streams complement each other. The first considers VSSs to be a barrier to the access of producers to major consumer markets, while the second stream of thought argues that VSSs fulfill, stimulate, and objectify sustainability. The results of the review show that the gains of adopting a VSS are diverse, with the economic pillar being the most valued, in general. Based on the distinct pillars of sustainability, our analysis contributes to a robust and differentiated understanding of the topic of VSS by identifying an ample range of examples that consider the gains in sustainability accruing to the application of VSSs. The analysis also establishes valuable insights and guidelines for the expansion of research in this field.
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More than 500 companies engaged in supply chains of forest-risk commodity have adopted zero-deforestation commitments (ZDCs). We use corporate social responsibility strategy and policy implementation theories to analyse the processes and conditions for ZDC implementation. We base our study on 35 semi-structured interviews with company representatives and sector actors, publicly available ZDC data, and company reports. The objective is to understand the opportunities and challenges of ZDC implementation at the level of companies. While past research addressed ZDC coverage and effectiveness, knowledge is still lacking on companies' perspectives on the implementation of their commitments. This study provides a unique perspective by integrating the direct experience and knowledge of private actors on an environmental governance regime. We find that companies see implementation of ZDCs as a journey and often rely on voluntary sustainability standards, aligning their strategies and key performance indicators (KPIs) to these. They engage directly in the supply chain, conducting projects “on-the-ground.” Implementing ZDCs requires the involvement of procurement departments and upper management, and collaborations within and between companies. Companies rely on service providers for in-depth knowledge and field implementation. They use monitoring tools, e.g. remote sensing, and see supply chain traceability as a prerequisite for implementation. Companies face numerous implementation challenges. Internally, companies often lack leadership on their ZDC, struggle to align commitments with the organization's operations and to manage suppliers, especially smallholders, and allocate insufficient resources. Externally, they lack common standards and stakeholder support, and face challenging regulatory conditions and missing market incentives. An uneven playing field creates leakage markets. Companies identify better leadership, technology and pre-competitive collaboration as potential solutions. Zero-deforestation commitments are unlikely to greatly contribute to reducing deforestation until better implementation processes, mechanisms, and conditions are in place.
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To strengthen global sustainability governance, academics and policymakers have called for a better integration of private governance with public policy instruments. Surprisingly, however, systematic research on the state of such public-private complementarities in the field of sustainable development is lacking. With a focus on voluntary sustainability standards and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, this article addresses this research gap. It uses a novel dataset of 232 voluntary standards to examine how their policies and organizational processes interact with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and their targets. We identify significant public-private complementarities, but also areas of institutional disconnect. We further explore how the creation of institutional linkages in this issue area is driven by instrumental, managerial, and normative concerns and develop an agenda for future research. This includes research on whether and how intensifying public-private interactions at the transnational level translate into tangible impacts for sustainable development on the ground.
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As the world grows more interconnected through the flows of people, goods, and information, many challenges are becoming more difficult to address since human needs are increasingly being met through global supply chains. Global shocks (e.g., war, economic recession, pandemic) can severely disrupt these interconnections and generate cascading consequences across local to global scales. To comprehensively evaluate these consequences, it is crucial to use integrated frameworks that consider multiple interconnections and flows among coupled human and natural systems. Here we use the framework of metacoupling (human–nature interactions within as well as across adjacent and distant systems) to illustrate the effects of major global shocks on the evolution of global interconnectedness between the early 1900s and the 2010s. Based on these results we make a few actionable recommendations to reduce the negative impacts of an ongoing global shock, the COVID-19 pandemic, to promote global sustainability.
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Nongovernmental private organizations have used certification as a governance instrument to advance the socioenvironmental and ethical sustainability of industrial aquaculture. Though started by organic pioneers, the landscape of aquaculture certification has rapidly altered since the late 1990s with the emergence of nonorganic initiatives accelerated by socioeconomic and environmental crises affecting aquaculture production. However, evidence regarding when, how, and why various schemes have emerged and evolved is scarce. Informed by the path-dependence perspective, this study chronicles the emergence and evolution of four organic and six nonorganic transnational nongovernmental aquaculture certification schemes. Drawing on archival records, this study notes that the dynamics of markets, politics, and ideas have played a decisive role in the creation and proliferation of schemes, species-specific standards, and certification programs. By dividing the evolutionary period into two timescales, 1970–1999 and 2000–2021, this study documents the intense competition among certification agencies spurred by the demand for farmed seafood in international markets. A nonorganic certification scheme was dissolved because of a credibility crisis and criticisms, whereas other schemes continue to thrive. However, the recent consolidation of major nonorganics and their growing involvement in the wild fishery industry put the aquaculture certification field in a state of uncertainty. This study provides important insight into the advancement of program-level harmonization initiatives and how the limits of those measures can be overcome to resolve confusion and duplication of certification schemes.
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The Indian automobile sector is undergoing a multi-dimensional transition arising from customer’s expectation for disruptive and innovative technology, the changing regulatory environment, demand for environment friendly mobility infrastructure and intensive competition from abroad. The prominence of sustainability in Indian automobile industry supply chains has become of utmost importance to be prepared for the future ahead. Despite industry commitment towards sustainability the management lacks direction when it comes to implementation. The study aims to find out factors that contribute to sustainability in the supply chain management of the automobile industry. A systematic review was conducted to explore different social, economic and environmental factors and sub-factors, extensively used for measuring the dimensions of sustainability. A total of 42 respondents were taken from seven Indian automobile industries for measuring sustainability. Further, the identified factors and sub-factors are ranked through the PPS (Percentage Point Score) method. A conceptual framework was developed to show the sub-factors impacts three dimensions of sustainability. Thus, three hypotheses were created and further tested. The study shows that the environmental factor has a more influence on a sustainable initiative with the highest score of 90 points (indicates first rank), followed by economic factor with 67 points (second rank) and social factor has 61 points (third rank). Thus, it was determined which factor or sub-factor is more important and priority than others. As a result, the final PPS score for sustainability gives us tangible and measurable values to enhance the efforts of organizations in their commitment towards achieving sustainability across the supply chain of the automobile industry.
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Blockchain and distributed ledger technology (BC/DLT) provides distributed databases with decentralized governance, tamper-proof recording, high availability and non-copyable digital assets, which have made it a natural technological basis for supply chain management. In this paper, we introduce REALISTIC, a novel event-based modeling framework for supply chain networks (SCNs) that includes production processes. It extends McCarty’s Resources-Events-Agents (REA) accounting model with secure transformations, which, across the entire SCN, guarantee that certified output resources cannot be digitally produced ex nihilo, but require certified input resources of at least the same amount as what is produced. This generalizes the no-double-spend guarantee of current BC/DLT to (digital twins of) physical resources and their production. Authenticated human or robotic Internet of Things (IoT) actors digitally sign and cryptographically commit to the veracity of real-world events on an immutable database, without having to take responsibility for their aggregate consequences. User-specifiable interpretations, corresponding to queries and analytical functions in database systems, provide auditable aggregate information computed from recorded events across the entire SCN. This includes fine-grained and trustworthy tracing of final products through multiple stages of production processes, semi-finished products, quality certifications and transportation all the way back to their raw materials. We present a case study for an end-to-end coffee supply chain that tracks fine-grained and detailed information from a farmer’s coffee cherries to retail coffee bags, involving all its actors. Our model handles product provenance; auditable sustainability, quality and trade information; production processes from parchment via green to roasted coffee; product quality tests; farmer certifications; and transportation across the entire coffee supply chain. It is based on field work involving farmers, cooperatives, processors, traders, importers, and a major roasting company stretching from Colombia to Scandinavia. Its REALISTIC-based modeling is the foundation for the design of our prototype implementation, which includes Ethereum blockchain code, RDBMS-based server code and a web app client. Their source code is publicly available on GitHub.
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Private standards play an increasingly important governance role, yet their effects on state‐led policymaking remain understudied. We examine how the operation of private agricultural standards influences multilateral pesticide governance with a particular focus on the listing of substances under the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, a treaty‐based information‐sharing mechanism that allows countries to refuse hazardous chemical imports. We find that private agricultural standard‐setting bodies use the Rotterdam Convention's pesticide list to develop their own lists of banned substances. This alters the Rotterdam Convention's intended role, impeding efforts to add substances to the treaty, as attempts by private actors to impose stricter governance than state actors can undermine the potential for international state‐based governance to become more stringent. We characterize this as a “confounding interaction” whereby institutional linkages between actions by public and private actors with broadly aligned goals results in unexpected negative consequences for governance.
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Flower growing firms are key economic players in Kenya contributing to a large portion of the country's Gross Domestic Product. While government regulations have faced accusations of laxity in managing the firms, the former have gradually embraced voluntary measures to aid in enhancing their water resource management goals. This study aimed to uncover the nature of the programs put in place by the firms. A cross sectional survey research design was adopted for the study that was conducted in Naivasha Sub County, an area dominantly known for flower growing firms in the country. Chi square test of independence was done to uncover any statistically significant differences between the flower firm types and their perception of the various voluntary approaches towards water resource management. A null outcome was observed whereby the views of the firms were not influenced by their geographical sizes of operation. While all the flower growing firms acknowledged the importance of voluntary efforts to water resource management, some lacked clear structures on implementation of the same. The firms were reluctant to share documentation pertaining to their policies although responses obtained indicated that the efforts were still at an infant stage. It has been noted that many flower firms enroll for voluntary programs like certification schemes simply for the purpose of gaining access to markets. The study therefore recommended that the water resource management rules set out in the voluntary approaches need to be made compulsory and monitored by parties outside of the value chain.
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To create institutional synergies and enhance regulatory effectiveness, scholars of transnational sustainability governance have called for a better integration of private authority with public policy instruments. Surprisingly, however, systematic research on the state of such public-private complementarities in the field of sustainable development is lacking. With a focus on voluntary sustainability standards and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, this article addresses this research gap. It uses a novel dataset of 232 voluntary standards to examine how their policies and organizational processes interact with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and their targets. We identify significant public-private complementarities, but also areas where institutional disconnects persist. We further explore how the creation of complementarities is driven by instrumental, managerial, and normative concerns and develop an agenda for future research. This includes research on whether intensifying transnational interactions translate into tangible impacts for sustainable development on the ground. Keywords: Sustainable Development Goals, voluntary sustainability standards, transnational business governance interactions, private authority, public-private complementarity, mapping analysis
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The certification mark, which was introduced in response to an EU initiative in 2017, has been available in Germany since 2019. Its main features are neutrality, monitoring/control and transparency for certain material or service promises for which the legal protection of a certification mark is claimed. This anthology explores the questions of how exactly the effect of this instrument is to be assessed, what experiences have already been made with it, and how warranty marks are to be evaluated in terms of brand technology, customer orientation, and consumer policy.
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Voluntary sustainability standards (VSS) aim to encourage ethical behaviors of organizations, yet studies show that many VSS adopters do not live up to these promises. Existing literature typically attributes the reason for this ineffectiveness to either policy-practice decoupling, owing to a lack of adhering to VSS requirements, or means-ends decoupling, owing to a lack of adapting to the local context. However, little is known about how the contradictory needs of adherence and adaptation evolve throughout VSS implementation. Building on the knowledge transfer literature, we develop a dynamic conceptual framework that distinguishes two phases of VSS implementation. Specifically, we theorize how tensions emerge in the transition between phases since the first phase primarily calls for adherence, whereas the second calls for adaptation. Applying this framework, we develop propositions to illustrate how these tensions relate to different VSS characteristics: stringency, enforcement, and scope. The article concludes with implications and future research directions for VSS scholarship.
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Carbon labelling systems can inform individual and organizational choices, which potentially reduce the carbon footprints of goods and services. We review the ways labelling is conceptualized and operationalized, and the available evidence on effectiveness. The literature focuses mainly on how labelling affects retail consumer behaviour, but much less on how labelling affects the behaviour of the organizations that produce, transport and sell products despite preliminary research suggesting that the effects on corporate behaviour may be substantial even without strong consumer responses. We consider key challenges for carbon labelling systems related to standard setting, data collection and use, and label design. We summarize the available knowledge, identify key research questions and identify steps towards achieving the promise of carbon labelling.
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Global supply chains play a critical role in many of the most pressing environmental stresses and social struggles identified by the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Responding to calls from the global community, companies are adopting a variety of voluntary practices to improve the environmental and/or social management of their suppliers' activities. We develop a global survey of 449 publicly listed companies in the food, textile, and wood-products sectors with annual reports in English to provide insight into how the private sector contributes to advancing the SDGs via such sustainable-sourcing practices. We find that while 52% of companies use at least one sustainable-sourcing practice, these practices are limited in scope; 71% relates to only one or a few input materials and 60.5% apply to only first-tier suppliers. We also find that sustainable-sourcing practices typically address a small subset of the sustainability challenges laid out by the SDGs, primarily focusing on labor rights and compliance with national laws. Consistent with existing hypotheses, companies that face consumer and civil society pressure are associated with a significantly higher probability of adopting sustainable-sourcing practices. Our findings highlight the opportunities and limitations of corporate sustainable-sourcing practices in addressing the myriad sustainability challenges facing our world today.
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A major reduction in global deforestation is needed to mitigate climate change and biodiversity loss. Recent private sector commitments aim to eliminate deforestation from a company’s operations or supply chain, but they fall short on several fronts. Company pledges vary in the degree to which they include time-bound interventions with clear definitions and criteria to achieve verifiable outcomes. Zero-deforestation policies by companies may be insufficient to achieve broader impact on their own due to leakage, lack of transparency and traceability, selective adoption and smallholder marginalization. Public–private policy mixes are needed to increase the effectiveness of supply-chain initiatives that aim to reduce deforestation. We review current supply-chain initiatives, their effectiveness, and the challenges they face, and go on to identify knowledge gaps for complementary public–private policies.
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Private governance programs are now an important source of regulation in global value chains – particularly in context of North–South trade. But can these programs play a similar role in the value chains feeding into fast-growing emerging markets like China and India? Most scholars doing research on the topic draw a pessimistic picture. They argue that the scope conditions for private sustainability governance are not yet present in these markets. Our analysis of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil – a leading non-state certification program – in China and India partially confirms this view. At the same time, however, we find that emerging markets are not a unified category. We observe that sustainable palm oil is beginning to gain momentum in China, whereas uptake in India remains much weaker. We trace this back to a number of key market conditions, which we show are more favorable in China. In addition, our analysis highlights the role of the Chinese state in creating awareness of and shaping firms’ interests in sustainable palm oil.
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Four trends would seem to be empowering environmentalists who target corporations with global brands: the increasing reach of social media, growing numbers of campaigns, the corporate turn toward ''sustainability'' to create brand value and manage supply chains, and the spread of eco-consumerism. Campaigns since 2007 to demand that brands stop buying palm oil linked to tropical deforestation confirm the rising influence over corporate policies and market demand. Many activists are portraying the outcomes as ''victories'' toward saving rainforests. Yet, three factors are limiting the value for improving on-the-ground management: industry influence over, and governance limits of, palm oil certification; ongoing sales of uncertified palm oil as demand shifts to nonbrand buyers; and illegalities and weak regulatory enforcement in producer countries, notably Indonesia and Malaysia. Theoretically, this analysis demonstrates the importance, when evaluating activist campaigns, of distinguishing between the influence on corporate policies and markets and the effectiveness for environmental outcomes.
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Policy instruments targeting environmental, social, and economic sustainability cover both local and global geographies and stem from both the public and private sectors. These policy instruments do not work in silos but interact throughout the regulatory process. In this paper we discuss interactions between public regulations and private certification that affect how forests are managed in three tropical countries: Indonesia, Cameroon, and Peru. We show how the governance regime in each of the countries has evolved in response to environmental and social issues. We focus on the Forest Stewardship Council’s forest stewardship certification as it is the main global certification scheme in the tropical region and look at its role in attaining sustainability in timber production. Case study results from Indonesia, Cameroon, and Peru indicate that certification influences all stages of the policy process: agenda setting and negotiation; implementation, and monitoring and enforcement. Results also suggest that certification introduces positive changes in management practices and improves social and environmental performance. However, its influence in attaining broader-scale sustainability is limited by a low level of uptake, notably in tropical countries where the costs of getting certified and maintaining certification are high and the certification criteria are rather complex, as well as by some of its inherent characteristics, as it can only solve problems at the forest management unit level.
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The PLOS ONE Collection “Measuring forest conservation effectiveness” brings together a series of studies that evaluate the effectiveness of tropical forest conservation policies and programs with the goal of measuring conservation success and associated co-benefits. This overview piece describes the geographic and methodological scope of these studies, as well as the policy instruments covered in the Collection as of June 2016. Focusing on forest cover change, we systematically compare the conservation effects estimated by the studies and discuss them in the light of previous findings in the literature. Nine studies estimated that annual conservation impacts on forest cover were below one percent, with two exceptions in Mexico and Indonesia. Differences in effect sizes are not only driven by the choice of conservation measures. One key lesson from the studies is the need to move beyond the current scientific focus of estimating average effects of undifferentiated conservation programs. The specific elements of the program design and the implementation context are equally important factors for understanding the effectiveness of conservation programs. Particularly critical will be a better understanding of the causal mechanisms through which conservation programs have impacts. To achieve this understanding we need advances in both theory and methods.
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Voluntary sustainability standards have increased in uptake over the last decade, here we explore their potential contribution to biodiversity conservation and other aspects of agricultural sustainability. We reviewed the content of twelve major crop standards and quantified their global coverage. All standards included some provisions for the protection of biodiversity, but we only identified two with criteria that prohibited all deforestation. We found records of certified cropland in 133 countries, and estimated that certified crop area increased by 11% (range 8.8% -13.5%) per year from 2000 to 2012, but still only covered 1.1% (range 1.0%-1.2%) of global cropland. The crops with the highest levels of certification were heavily-traded commodities: coffee, cocoa, tea and palm oil each had 10% or more of their total global production area certified. Coverage was lower for other crops, including the world's most important staple foods (maize, rice, wheat). Sustainability standards have considerable potential to contribute to conservation, but there is an ongoing need for better evaluation of how effectively they are implemented. We present examples of ways in which governments, companies, financial institutions and civil society can work together to scale up and target certification to places where it can have the greatest positive impact. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved
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Significance A growing global demand for agricultural products such as soybeans and beef is causing agriculture to expand into forest ecosystems. Many countries are tightening environmental regulations as a response. Because agricultural companies can move, there is a risk that stringent land-use regulations might just displace land conversion geographically. A better understanding of how these regulations affect companies’ movements is therefore crucial for designing effective conservation policies. Here we analyze the determinants of siting choices by agricultural companies. We find that companies that tend to clear more forest prefer areas with lower deforestation restrictions, and that all companies prefer areas with low enforcement. However, these effects are less important than the availability of forestland or the proximity to current investments.
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This study tests the hypothesis that lean manufacturing improves the social performance of manufacturers in emerging markets. We analyze an intervention by Nike, Inc., to promote the adoption of lean manufacturing in its apparel supply chain across 11 developing countries. Using difference-in-differences estimates from a panel of more than 300 factories, we find that lean adoption was associated with a 15 percentage point reduction in noncompliance with labor standards that primarily reflect factory wage and work hour practices. However, we find a null effect on factory health and safety standards. This pattern is consistent with a causal mechanism that links lean to improved social performance through changes in labor relations, rather than improved management systems. These findings offer evidence that capability-building interventions may reduce social harm in global supply chains. Data, as supplemental material, are available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.2015.2369 . This paper was accepted by Bruno Cassiman, business strategy.
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We live in an era in which the demand for governance arising from human–environment interactions or, more broadly, the quest for sustainable development is growing, while confidence in the capacity of government – the conventional mechanism for handling such matters – to address problems of governance is waning. What are the sources of this paradox? What can we do to address the rising demand for governance under these circumstances? How can we expand our repertoire of mechanisms for supplying governance to avoid the onset of crises attributable to this governance deficit? These are the questions that have motivated this inquiry into the rising demand for governance and the relative merits of alternative ways to address this social challenge, with particular reference to the pursuit of sustainable development. Our examination of this problem has yielded two broad conclusions. There is, to begin with, a critical difference between governance and government, an insight that has stimulated a lively interest in arrangements that can be characterized as governance without government (Rosenau and Czempiel 1992). In addition, there is no need to put all our eggs in one basket when it comes to meeting the demand for governance for sustainable development. Hybrid systems in which several forms of governance operate simultaneously, and even with an element of coordination, are not only possible – they are also increasingly common in the realm of sustainable development. The paradox of rising demand and waning confidence It is not hard to identify factors that have given rise to a growing demand for governance to address problems of sustainable development.
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Significance Global trade in commodities has become an important driver of environmental degradation. In response, there has been a proliferation of nonstate, market-driven governance seeking to reduce environmental degradation through interventions in the supply chain. We provide some of the first quasiexperimental evidence to show that private, market-driven policies can slow deforestation. We compare the impacts of two certification schemes and a deforestation moratorium in Chile using a factorial quasiexperimental design. Our results indicate that governance regimes with greater collaboration between environmental and industry stakeholders achieved better environmental outcomes. In contrast to many public conservation policies, we find that private governance systems can effectively target high-deforestation properties.
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A large number of governance interventions are being developed in order to reduce deforestation and enhance the sustainability of commodity supply chains across the tropics. The extent to which individual agricultural commodity supply chain interventions can achieve scale, and environmental or social objectives, depends in part on the ways in which those interventions interact with other interventions. We use a case- study of the new Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) cattle certification program in Brazil to explore the different ways in which governance interventions interact. We examine the broad landscape of policies and programs that affect sustainability in the cattle supply chain in Brazil, and assess whether such interventions support or constrain the scaling up of the SAN cattle program. We conducted semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders from government, private sector, and civil society organizations. We found that multiple interventions are acting in a complementary manner to enhance sustainability and therefore enable the scaling up of the SAN program, by aiding compliance with environmental laws, adoption of good production practices, and improved monitoring. At the same time, limited development, implementation, and complementarity of some interventions could be antagonistic to the S N program’s expansion because they maintain a context in which many actors operate far below the sustainability criteria required by the program. Our holistic approach enables us to identify specific gaps in the complex landscape of governance interventions in Brazil. Greater strategic complementarity and coordination between interventions may catalyze a more coherent and effective pathway to reduced deforestation and enhanced sustainability. © Helena Nery Alves-Pinto, Peter Newton and Luis Fernando Guedes Pinto.
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Production of commercial agricultural commodities for domestic and foreign markets is increasingly driving land clearing in tropical regions, creating links and feedback effects between geographically separated consumption and production locations. Such teleconnections are commonly studied through calculating consumption footprints and quantifying environmental impacts embodied in trade flows, e.g., virtual water and land, biomass, or greenhouse gas emissions. The extent to which land-use change (LUC) and associated carbon emissions are embodied in the production and export of agricultural commodities has been less studied. Here we quantify tropical deforestation area and carbon emissions from LUC induced by the production and the export of four commodities (beef, soybeans, palm oil, and wood products) in seven countries with high deforestation rates (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea). We show that in the period 2000-2011, the production of the four analyzed commodities in our seven case countries was responsible for 40% of total tropical deforestation and resulting carbon losses. Over a third of these impacts was embodied in exports in 2011, up from a fifth in 2000. This trend highlights the growing influence of global markets in deforestation dynamics. Main flows of embodied LUC are Latin American beef and soybean exports to markets in Europe, China, the former Soviet bloc, the Middle East and Northern Africa, whereas embodied emission flows are dominated by Southeast Asian exports of palm oil and wood products to consumers in China, India and the rest of Asia, as well as to the European Union. Our findings illustrate the growing role that global consumers play in tropical LUC trajectories and highlight the need for demand-side policies covering whole supply chains. We also discuss the limitations of such demand-side measures and call for a combination of supply- and demand-side policies to effectively limit tropical deforestation, along with research into the interactions of different types of policy interventions.
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This article critically investigates the growing power and effectiveness of the ‘ethical’ compliance audit regime. Over the last decade, audits have evolved from a tool for companies to track internal organisational performance into a transnational governing mechanism to measure and strengthen corporate accountability globally and shape corporate responsibility norms. Drawing on original interviews, we assess the effectiveness of supply chain benchmarks and audits in promoting environmental and social improvements in global retail supply chains. Two principal arguments emerge from our analysis. First, that audits can be best understood as a productive form of power, which codifies and legitimates retail corporations’ poor social and environmental records, and shapes state approaches to supply chain governance. Second, that growing public and government trust in audit metrics ends up concealing real problems in global supply chains. Retailers are, in fact, auditing only small portions of supply chains, omitting the portions of supply chains where labour and environmental abuse are most likely to take place. Furthermore, the audit regime tends to address labour and environmental issues very unevenly, since ‘people’ are more difficult to classify and verify through numbers than capital and product quality.
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The pattern of sustainable standard diffusion has received much attention from social science researchers. We contribute to existing literature with a case study on the Rainforest Alliance (RA) initiative in the Ivorian cocoa sector. We scrutinise the RA standard, by drawing on seminal contributions on the pervasive effects of information asymmetry in markets (Akerlof, 1970) and on the inherent uncertainty of credence properties (Darby and Karni, 1973). We examine the uncertainty surrounding standard compliance, in particular, the capacity to enforce the standard. We argue that the translation of principles into auditable technical specifications is very rough. Furthermore, our empirical results from producer surveys show that criteria addressing the productivity issue receive more attention than environmental issues. In a context where chocolate companies are extremely interested in ensuring sustainable supplies, we argue that certification, proclaimed to be 'in the name of sustainability', is mainly perceived as a productivity-enhancing tool.
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To analyse corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a business tool and as a way to promote food security in the global South, this article draws on 65 interviews with supply chain personnel and a 2013 survey of 250 smallholder farmers in Nicaragua. Contrary to private governance literature, Walmart’s efforts to control supply chains in Nicaragua are not advancing rural sustainability; feelings of mistrust and unfairness persist among farmers, and many are returning to local markets to regain independence. This analysis extends our understanding of why CSR is failing to help agrarian societies and confirms CSR as principally a business strategy.
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We assess the literature on public and private quality standards and their impact in food markets, international trade, and global supply chains. We focus on their effects on welfare, trade, industrial organization, and labor markets and with special attention to the North-South context. We also attempt to better characterize when these measures constitute protectionism, a complicated task. We look at studies investigating public and private standards and across various quantitative approaches and countries. These standards have complex effects. The evidence is mixed regarding standards as catalyst for or as impediment against trade and development, reflecting the complexity of these effects and their specificity to industries and countries. The analysis of standard-like nontariff measures and their impacts does not lead to sweeping prescriptions for policy reforms. We identify more modest prescriptions and make some recommendations for fruitful research directions.
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In order to address challenges resulting from interactions between transnational private sustainability standard organizations, initiatives emerge that meta-govern these standards. Contrary to prevailing understandings in public policy literature, such metagovernance initiatives are mostly run by nongovernmental rather than governmental actors. While literature presents the sustainability standards field as predominantly governed by one meta-governor, ISEAL, it is hardly recognized that, alongside ISEAL, rival metagovernance initiatives are proliferating. These initiatives occur in similar sectors and issue fields, use quite similar modes of meta-governance and interact with each other. This paper explains the multiple emergence of meta-governance in the governance of sustainability standards in agriculture. It shows how meta-governance efforts are developed by political coalitions of nongovernmental actors with divergent views on and priorities in making production more sustainable. It therefore reveals the mechanism through which metagovernance of coordination problems among cross-border self-organizing governance arrangements may end up reproducing these coordination problems, rather than addressing them.
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Motivated by recent increases in water pollution in major US agricultural watersheds and by the shortcomings of government programs to control non-point source pollution, this paper examines the prospects for using product certification (ecolabeling) and business-to-business supply chain standards for environmental protection in commodity crop production. We introduce the sources of demand for certification and supply chain standards and the political and economic context in which they have expanded since the 1990s. We explore how various agrifood certification and supply chain standards have been used to achieve changes in production methods and/or in product attributes to meet social goals, and we discuss the prospects for applying these models to commodity crops. We conclude that the nature of corn and soybean production, distribution, and consumption - with numerous sales outlets and invisible consumption as part of processed foods and other products - makes certification schemes to limit agricultural pollution unrealistic and supply chain standards extremely challenging.
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This paper analyses policies of 22 European Union member governments, designed to encourage corporate social responsibility (CSR) between 2000 and 2011. It categorises these policies by their regulatory strength and identifies the range of issues to which CSR policies are directed. The paper argues that Northern European, Scandinavian and UK governments are reconstructing their respective institutional structures to embed CSR concerns more explicitly therein. It concludes that these government CSR initiatives are converging, particularly around their increased regulatory strength and the broadening of their issue application. Policies in Mediterranean and the former communist countries do not reflect increasing institutionalisation.
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The emergence of private authority has become increasingly a feature of the post-Cold War world. In The Emergence of Private Authority in Global Governance, leading scholars explore the sources, practices and implications of this erosion of the power of the state. They analyse and compare actors as diverse as financial institutions, multinational corporations, religious terrorists and organised criminals, and assess the potential for reversal of the situation. The themes of the book relate directly to debates concerning globalization and the role of international law, and will be of interest to scholars and students of international relations, politics, sociology and law.
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Recent decades have witnessed the rise of social and environmental certification programs that are intended to promote responsible business practices. Consumers now encounter organic or fairtrade labels on a variety of products, implying such desirable benefits as improved environmental conditions or more equitable market transactions. But what do we know about the origins and development of the organizations behind these labels? This book examines forest, coffee, and fishery certification programs to reveal how the early decisions of programs on governance and standards affect the path along which individual programs evolve and the variety and number of programs across sectors.
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Food retailers and manufacturers are increasingly committing to address agricultural sustainability issues in their supply chains. In place of using established eco-certifications, many companies define their own supply chain sustainability standards. Scholars remain divided on whether we should expect such company-led programs to affect change. We use a major food retailer as a critical case to evaluate the effectiveness of a company-led supply chain standard in improving environmental farm management practices. We find that the company-led standard increases the adoption of most environmental best management practices among the company's fruit, vegetable and flower growers in South Africa. This result is robust across two identification strategies: a panel analysis of over 950 farm audits and a cross-sectional matching analysis using original survey data. In-depth interviews suggest that the program's unique focus on capacity building through audit visits by highly trained staff, coupled with a close business relationship between the retailer and their growers help to explain the increased effectiveness of the program as compared to other private environmental standards. Contrary to the argument that company-led initiatives are mere window dressing, this study provides a critical example of the positive role private governance mechanisms can play in improving environmental farm management practices globally.
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The French Law on Duty of Care: A Historic Step Towards Making Globalization Work for All - Volume 2 Issue 2 - Sandra COSSART, Jérôme CHAPLIER, Tiphaine BEAU DE LOMENIE
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While liquid biofuels play a prominent role in sustainable energy goals, the relationship between their ability to advance sustainability agendas and their governance has been poorly addressed. The recognition of a number of private sector initiated certification schemes as mechanisms to verify compliance with the requirements of the EU-Renewable Energy Directive has provided a strong stimulus for biofuels certification. The question asked in this article is: "To what extent does the application of these standards effectively contribute to the sustainable production of bioenergy?" The question is answered on the basis of a conceptual framework and literature review. Three elements of the effectiveness of market-based certification standards are reviewed: the substantive scope of emergent standards, the effectiveness of implementation, and levels and trends in market conversion. The proliferation of certificates for low quality standards, deficiencies in the certification process and low market conversion suggest that certification is an inadequate substitute for public regulation. For certification to hold any meaningful potential to strengthen sustainability governance in the biofuel sector, it must be embedded within a public governance system committed to redressing these deficiencies and structuring accountability not just towards global environmental values, but to local people and place.
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Our research examines the benefits and drawbacks for cooperatives who participate in voluntary coffee certifications. We interviewed administrators at twenty Costa Rican coffee cooperatives about management practices related to voluntary certification. Voluntary certifications are popular among coffee cooperatives. Access to certified markets is facilitated by state support of the cooperative sector, regulation of the coffee sector and well-enforced environmental and social laws. However, there are no significant or consistent financial incentives for farmers to pursue certification. Multiple certifications may lower auditing and implementation costs, but cooperatives rarely receive the full premium for multiply-certified coffee. Low market demand for certified coffee, weak price incentives and high auditing and management costs encourage cooperatives to certify only a portion of their members. This strategy rewards compliant farmers rather than inducing widespread change to farming practices among the entire membership. Though financial incentives are weak, certifications offer non-financial benefits to both farmers and cooperatives, including better management and more resilient cooperatives.
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In this paper we investigate whether coffee farms that have been granted in-house socio-environmental certification from a global buyer, display better social and environmental conduct compared to non-certified farms. We perform an econometric analysis using data from an original cross-country survey covering 575 farms in various regions of Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Mexico. We find that farms that have been granted in-house certification demonstrate better environmental but not better social conduct than non-certified farms. We find also that the positive relationship between in-house certification and environmental conduct is stronger if the farm sells to a cooperative, and if it is located in an institutionally weak country. Finally, we find that the institutional strength of the farm's home country has a positive influence on its social conduct. We discuss how our analysis contributes to the literature on the social and environmental impacts of certifications, and to scholarship in global value chains’ social and environmental upgrading.
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•Certified and conventional products are not traditional substitute goods.•Green public procurement stimulates certification globally, but not in each region.•Public procurement of the cheaper unsustainable product does not maximise welfare.•Increasing the price premium for certified wood creates a trade barrier.•The high costs of forest certification exclude vulnerable producers.
Article
What determines the uptake of private sustainability regulation in developing countries? Existing studies point to the local context as the key explanatory factor. In particular, they identify local program characteristics, industry structures, and the regulatory environment as variables influencing program uptake at the point of production. However, examining two very similar certification programs in Brazil's soy and sugarcane industries, this article finds that local conditions fail to account for the observed patterns. A “local explanation” would have predicted similar levels of industry uptake in the two sectors. Conversely, it is found that Brazil's soy producers first backed but then opposed private sustainability regulation, whereas in the sugarcane sector the dynamic was exactly the opposite. Through an in-depth analysis and cross-case comparison this article reveals how changing transnational conditions were decisive in shaping these outcomes. Specifically, shifting end markets exposed the two sectors to different economic and regulatory pressures.
Article
Private investments to address environmental issues are perceived as a powerful engine of sustainability. For the agri-food sector, multiple instruments have been developed to green supply chains. Yet little is known about the underlying process and conditions under which green sourcing concerns lead to the adoption of specific sustainability instruments among agri-food companies. This study: i) offers a synthesis of the most commonly used instruments agri-food companies adopt to promote sustainability in their supply chains; ii) proposes an analytical framework to elucidate how those decisions are made, based on the competitive environment in which firms operate—with respect to location of their raw materials, technologies available to their suppliers, leverage over upstream suppliers, and end-markets’ characteristics; and iii) presents seven case-studies illustrating the decision-making process leading to the adoption of a specific instrument by a particular company. Companies that do not have sustainable technologies available to improve their environmental practices but operate in highly sensitive places are better off taking their operation somewhere else. But companies with available cleaner technologies, effective law enforcement and control over the supply chains, as well as a brand to protect, can capitalize on their environmental efforts by introducing strict standards, such as third-party certifications. Enforcement of social and environmental regulations at countries of origin is a key factor that deters companies form adopting very strict standards, even if they have a brand value to enhance. The multiplication of private labels and initiatives are, in most cases, not driven by a desire to disorient the consumer, but rather by a careful consideration of the complex conditions under which agri-food supply chains operate. With minor adaptations, the framework could be applied to other economic sectors that have environmental impacts, from mining and energy-generating industries, to apparel, and electronics.
Article
Sustainability standards for tropical agriculture promise better trade and fairer labour conditions for smallholders. Recent research on labour suggests that, besides such standards, configurations of buyer–supplier relationships crucially shape economic and labour conditions. However, a static configurational approach overlooks the role of supplier and labour agency over time. Using a matched case comparison of two certified rural enterprises in Ecuador, this article shows that suppliers can leverage standards to create value from vertical relationships with buyers. However, standards do not, by themselves, directly contribute to better conditions. They do so indirectly only if suppliers manage to become competitive in an elite market, augmenting rather than dampening unequal trade conditions. This study contributes to recent theory seeking to explain uneven labour outcomes with sustainability standards in global production networks.
Article
The governance of labour in global production networks (GPNs) has become a critical area of concern amongst academics and policymakers alike. To date, GPN research has focused on the role of private company codes and multi-stakeholder ethical initiatives primarily driven by lead-firms. Other GPN studies highlight the critical role of civil society organisations (CSOs) in challenging lead-firm purchasing practices and shaping regulatory outcomes at local production sites. However, GPN research has not sufficiently incorporated the role of nation states in regulating work through legislative frameworks and enforcement regimes, often referred to in the literature as ‘state’ or ‘public’ governance. This is despite a ‘regulatory renaissance’ taking place across certain developing countries, seeking to strengthen their national regulatory labour institutions (Piore and Schrank, 2008:1). The GPN framework provides an analytical lens through which to conceptualise cross-cutting strands of trans-scalar governance regimes, involving complex networks of state, private and civil society actors operating at multiple scales. Notions of territorial and societal embeddedness are used to elucidate how global ethical standards derived from particular country contexts become enmeshed in national regulatory frameworks and local societal relations, shaping governance outcomes for precarious workers incorporated into GPNs. The paper draws attention to the ‘trans-scalar embeddedness’ of labour governance regimes which interact across geographical scales and, in the case of South African fruit, reflect a ‘trans-scalar governance deficit’ for precarious workers. It is argued that the influence of national regulatory regimes should be more fully incorporated into analytical frameworks for understanding governance outcomes in GPNs.
Article
In many settings firms rely on nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to certify prosocial attributes embodied in their products. We provide a model of competition between NGOs in the provision of labeling services. Competition between a fixed number of NGOs features a “race to the top” in labeling standards, but entry of NGOs offering new labels pushes standards down. In a wide range of settings NGO entry and competition results in too many labels being adopted, with each label being too stringent. Compared to a setting in which firms can credibly communicate the social attributes of their products, labels demand greater prosocial behavior than is desired by firms, although with proliferation of the number of labels this discrepancy disappears. In contrast to existing models, firms may engage in excessive corporate social responsibility when they rely on an NGO as a certifying intermediary. This paper was accepted by Bruno Cassiman, business strategy.
Article
Eco-labeling (or environmental certification) is often promoted as a regulatory instrument capable of incentivizing sustainable resource use, even in the absence of stringent government environmental regulations. Despite slow uptake in developing countries and high producer costs, a growing body of case study evidence suggests that producers benefit in varied ways from certification. A qualitative meta-synthesis approach is applied to this body of evidence in order to assess the type and extent of producer benefits reported in case studies of Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification, in developing countries. While benefits from price premiums and market access appear to be limited, less tangible benefits were more common, including learning, governance, community empowerment, and reputational benefits. These benefits may justify the cost of certification.
Article
The promotion of intensive farming through organic and fair trade certification appears contradictory to the increasing significance of non-farm income sources in rural Asia as well as in many other parts of the rural South. By observing a sugarcane producer co-operative comprising land reform beneficiaries in the Philippines, this paper explores the reality of livelihood diversification as practised by member households of the certified co-operative, focusing on the compatibility of certification-supported farming with diversified activities. In this case, diversification at the household level progressed both away from farming and into farming. Behind the long-term use of agricultural certification, there are compelling reasons for continuing both certification-supported farming and diversified activities, and for employing mechanisms that further the compatibility at all phases between the former and the latter, and maximising income-generating opportunities. The operation of communal land with agricultural certification may be an effective form of assistance to land reform beneficiaries who share a strong desire to be landowners.