Transnational Environmental Governance
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Transnational Environmental Governance

The Emergence and Effects of the Certification of Forests and Fisheries

Lars H. Gulbrandsen

In recent years a wide range of non-state certification programs have emerged to address environmental and social problems associated with the extraction of natural resources. This book provides a general analytical framework for assessing the emergence and effectiveness of voluntary certification programs. It focuses on certification in the forest and fisheries sectors, as initiatives in these sectors are among the most advanced cases of non-state standard setting and governance in the environmental realm.
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Chapter 8: The Spread and Institutionalization of Certification Programs

Lars H. Gulbrandsen


Since the formation of FSC in the early 1990s, the certification model has spread to a number of sectors and industries. Some certification initiatives mimicked established programs like FSC, whereas other initiatives began as separate processes. Yet, all are strikingly similar in their organizational design and governance processes and procedures. In every case, the emergence of the certification program was part of a broader shift from government command-and-control regulations toward voluntary approaches to environmental problems. The lack of effective multilateral and domestic regulations addressing such transnational problems as forest degradation, fisheries depletion and sweatshop labor practices made environmental and social groups turn to the business sector itself. NGO-backed certification programs sought to achieve legitimate rulemaking authority through multi-stakeholder governance arrangements; yet, as we have seen in some sectors, such as forest, producer-backed certification schemes emerged in response to NGO efforts to regulate producers and industries. This chapter examines the ways in which certification programs have evolved and spread across sectors. The first section examines the proliferation of non-state certification schemes, with particular attention to the policy entrepreneurs who have carried facets of the certification model from the forest sector to several other sectors. The second section examines the formation of alliances among certification schemes and between certification schemes and international organizations, in an effort to achieve legitimacy as standard-setting organizations. Focusing on FSC, the third section turns its attention to the challenges of achieving balanced stakeholder participation over time in the governance of multi-stakeholder certification programs. Drawing on a study...

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