Handbook of Global Environmental Politics, Second Edition
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Handbook of Global Environmental Politics, Second Edition

Edited by Peter Dauvergne

The second edition of this Handbook contains more than 30 new and original articles as well as six essential updates by leading scholars of global environmental politics. This landmark book maps the latest theoretical and empirical research in this energetic and growing field. Captured here are the pioneering and lively debates over concerns for the health of the planet and how they might best be addressed.
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Chapter 26: Impacts of Nonstate Governance: Lessons from the Certification of Marine Fisheries

Lars H. Gulbrandsen


Lars H. Gulbrandsen Over the past two decades, a number of multistakeholder certification schemes have emerged and become particularly vibrant sources of nonstate governance. Sometimes referred to as the “privatization of governance,” these programs are generally seen as emerging in response to transboundary problems states have been unable or unwilling to resolve. Such programs have been launched to address environmental and social concerns in many sectors and industries, including forestry, fisheries, fish farming, coffee production, palm oil production, and parks management. They go beyond voluntary codes of conduct and self-regulatory modes of governing by requiring independent verification of compliance with performance-based environmental and social standards. They also constitute governing arenas in which a wide range of stakeholders interact and agree upon rules and governance mechanisms.1 We know a great deal about the conditions that help to explain how these certification programs emerged and evolved within and across sectors, but much less about their direct effects and broader consequences. Using the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) as a case study, this chapter examines how we can evaluate the effectiveness of nonstate certification programs and discusses what certification in the fisheries sector has taught us. In 2009, the MSC celebrated its first 10 years as an independent and operational certification program. Now in its second decade, the MSC is the most influential global environmental program for wildcapture fisheries certification. Given its experience of more than a decade of operations, it would be interesting to assess the MSC’s effectiveness in delivering on its promises...

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