The Political Economy of Sustainable Development

The Political Economy of Sustainable Development

Policy Instruments and Market Mechanisms

Timothy Cadman, Lauren Eastwood, Federico Lopez-Casero Michaelis, Tek N. Maraseni, Jamie Pittock and Tapan Sarker

Since the Rio ‘Earth’ Summit of 1992, sustainable development has become the major policy response to tackling global environmental degradation, from climate change to loss of biodiversity and deforestation. Market instruments such as emissions trading, payments for ecosystem services and timber certification have become the main mechanisms for financing the sustainable management of the earth’s natural resources. Yet how effective are they – and do they help the planet and developing countries, or merely uphold the economic status quo? This book investigates these important questions.

Chapter 2: Combatting deforestation I – FSC and PEFC

Timothy Cadman, Lauren Eastwood, Federico Lopez-Casero Michaelis, Tek N. Maraseni, Jamie Pittock and Tapan Sarker

Subjects: development studies, development economics, economics and finance, political economy, environment, environmental economics, environmental politics and policy, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy


A rising awareness of tropical deforestation in the 1980s led to increased action by environmental NGOs to protect forests globally (Pattberg 2005: 358–61). The success of their efforts was largely a result of growing alliances between groups in developed and developing countries, disillusioned by the failure of intergovernmental processes to effectively tackle the problem of unsustainable logging (Humphreys 1996: 18–19, Keck and Sikkink 1998: 150–2, Elliott 2000: 43–9, Ozinga 2001: 13). Initially, the primary target was the tropical timber trade, but this was subsequently expanded in the 1990s to include forests in the industrialised nations as well, notably in the temperate and boreal forest regions. A number of strategies were developed, such as targeting timber retail outlets and international timber companies through boycotts, and pressurising local and national governments (as well as regional bodies such as the EU) to ban imports. This led to bans from the European Parliament, Austria and Switzerland between 1988–93, all of which were reversed as a consequence of counter-measures developed by Malaysia. Under pressure from NGOs, the Dutch government and importers agreed to an alternative approach to end imports from sources identified as not being sustainable (Keck and Sikkink 1998: 154–6). Other NGOs also sought to achieve similar objectives by working through existing intergovernmental agencies, demanding that producer and consumer country members sourced and supplied tropical timber from sustainable sources (Gale 1998: 159–61, Elliott 2000: 45–6, Humphreys 1996: 155–6). Their primary target was the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO), founded in 1983. There was some reaction to increasing NGO concerns regarding tropical deforestation within ITTO.

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