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Lars H. Gulbrandsen Obtains PhD Degree on Environmental Certification in the Forestry and Fisheries Sectors

Lars H. Gulbrandsen(01.04.2009) FNI Senior Research Fellow Lars H. Gulbrandsen has today successfully defended his PhD dissertation on how and to what extent voluntary certification schemes in the forestry and fisheries sectors contribute to sustainable resource management.

Gulbrandsen's study shows that certification schemes have emerged from NGO targeting of major retailers along the market supply chain, such as IKEA and Home Depot. Once aligned, those retailers became central allies with NGOs in the process of persuading or forcing producers to adopt standards. Certification pressure has in general not originated with consumers.

Non-State Global Environmental Governance: The Emergence and Effectiveness of Forest and Fisheries Certification SchemesThe global scheme for forest certification, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), has been a model for other certification schemes, including the Marine Stewardship Council in the fisheries sector. In the forestry sector, industry-based certification schemes soon formed to compete with the FSC. These schemes had less stringent environmental and social standards than FSC, but they have gradually strengthened their standards. The study shows that competition among certification schemes has resulted in an upward harmonization of standards.

A limitation to effective problem solving is that voluntary certification schemes are often not adopted where there is greatest need to change producer practices. The dissertation shows that it is easier for well-regulated fisheries in developed countries to join certification schemes than it is for fisheries in developing countries. Similarly, in the forestry sector, only 10 percent of the certified forestland is in tropical countries.

Dr. Gulbrandsen is a Senior Research Fellow at the Fridtjof Nansen Institute, to which he has been affiliated since 2000. His PhD dissertation – Non-State Global Environmental Governance: The Emergence and Effectiveness of Forest and Fisheries Certification Schemes – was submitted to the Department of Political Science at the University of Oslo in June 2008. Dr. Gulbrandsen's supervisors have been Professor Arild Underdal (Department of Political Science, University of Oslo) and Senior Research Fellow Olav Schram Stokke (Fridtjof Nansen Institute).
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Further information:
   Lars H. Gulbrandsen's homepage
   PhD project homepage
   PhD dissertation summary
   Short PhD dissertation summary in Norwegian
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 The Fridtjof Nansen Institute (FNI) is an independent foundation engaged in research on international environmental, energy, and resource management politics.
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