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Assessing the effects of certification networks on sustainable production and consumption: The cases of FLO and FSC

: Gandenberger, C.; Garrelts, H.; Wehlau, D.


Journal of consumer policy 34 (2011), No.1, pp.107-126
ISSN: 0168-7034
ISSN: 0342-5843
ISSN: 1573-0700
Journal Article
Fraunhofer ISI ()
sustainable consumption; certification; private governance; FSC; fair trade

Private governance approaches to foster sustainability have gained importance in recent years. The article focuses on such approaches that involve actors from different parts of the value chain, as well as consumers, labour unions, and NGOs. As these approaches rely on the certification mechanism to document the adherence to environmental and social standards, we refer to them as "certification networks." The main objective of these networks is to realize more sustainable production and consumption patterns from within existing market structures. Concerning their impact on sustainability, however, existing research revealed mixed results. This raises the question, how to systematically assess the success of certification networks. Referring to debates on private governance, this paper proposes to consider structural-material (e.g., altered market and incentive structures) and regulative-normative effects (e.g., altered institutions). Taking this broader perspective, two cases are analysed: the Fairtrade Labelling Organisation (FLO) and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).