Chapter 9: Imagining credible standards: whats driving the ISEAL Alliance?
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This chapter evaluates the discovery of the possibilities of, and limits to, global cooperation as it follows the ISEAL Alliance in its attempts to enact credibility and become the globally recognized body for credible social and environmental labeling organizations. Drawing on an analysis of imagined futures and pathways of cooperation, this chapter shows how civil society actors creatively imagined a future in which ISEAL would be formally recognized and embedded into the global trading regime. Actors act as if the futures they pursue are possible. Through their consequent behavior, they enact the future, but also come to understand the nature of previously incalculable contingencies. In fact, the discovery of contingencies is integral to the pursuit of imaginations of the future. We see how ISEAL's pathways evolve in the process gaining experience. The chapter outlines ISEAL's successes and missed opportunities. It argues that if private certification systems cannot better demonstrate their impacts, they are likely to continue to suffer from doubts about their credibility – namely over whether they can meaningfully contribute to sustainability and other outcomes