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FNI Book Examines the Impact of Certification Schemes on Environmental Governance

Lars H. Gulbrandsen: Transnational Environmental Governance: The Emergence and Effects of the Certification of Forests and Fisheries(23.08.2010) A new book by FNI Senior Research Fellow Lars H. Gulbrandsen examines the effects of forestry and fisheries certification programs on environmental governance.

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. Lars H. Gulbrandsen's book provides a general analytical framework for assessing the emergence and effectiveness of such 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.

Paying particular attention to the certification schemes of the Forest Stewardship Council and the Marine Stewardship Council, Gulbrandsen examines how certification initiatives emerged, the politics that underlie their development, their ability to influence producer and consumer behaviour, and the broader consequences of their formation and spread.

Lars H. Gulbrandsen'A major conclusion of the book is that effective implementation of certification programs requires well-functioning legal systems, property rights, and national and local administrations that work. It is critical to recognize, then, that private and public rulemaking processes are closely intertwined; that private regulatory regimes influence public regulatory regimes, and vice versa, and that the absence of one affects the dynamics in the other,' Gulbrandsen says.

The book's intended audience includes scholars of environmental politics and corporate social responsibility, as well as practitioners involved in non-state certification programs throughout the world, and Gulbrandsen hopes the book's insights from the forest and fisheries sectors may contribute to a better understanding of the capacity of non-state governance programs to ameliorate global environmental problems.

Lars H. Gulbrandsen: Transnational Environmental Governance: The Emergence and Effects of the Certification of Forests and Fisheries. Cheltenham, UK/Northampton (MA), USA, Edward Elgar, 2010, 213 p.



Professor Peter Dauvergne, Canada Research Chair in Global Environmental Politics, University of British Columbia, Canada:
'Incisive and nuanced, Transnational Environmental Governance significantly advances our understanding of the capacity of certification to influence the environmental behaviour of corporations and consumers. Lars Gulbrandsen’s subtle analysis leaves us with an innovative toolbox to explain when and why voluntary certification programs succeed – or fail – to strengthen environmental governance. It is essential reading for anyone wanting a more accurate way to evaluate the growing number of non-state certification programs.'

Professor David Vogel, Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley, US:
'A comprehensive and highly informative analysis of two of the most important examples of non-state governance mechanisms that have emerged to address the shortcomings of government environmental regulation. This book’s theoretical framework and detailed case-studies represent an important contribution to our understanding of the accomplishments and limitations of certification programs to advance corporate social responsibility.'

Professor Frank Biermann, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands:
'Transnational Environmental Governance provides a comprehensive and insightful analysis of the emergence and effects of certification schemes as novel mechanisms of environmental policy-making beyond traditional intergovernmental cooperation. Gulbrandsen's multi-level study will be highly useful for scholars, practitioners and graduate students who seek to advance their understanding of private rulemaking at both national and global levels. The book is highly recommended.'

Professor Katarina Eckerberg, Department of Political Science, Umeå University, Sweden:
'This book provides a timely contribution to both academic and policy debates by examining the processes and mechanisms of the emergence and proliferation of non-state governance schemes, specifically comparing forest and fisheries certification. The empirical evidence challenges conventional wisdom by showing that political and public regulatory frameworks are essential in the implementation of certification programs. This is highly recommended reading when discussing to what extent – and how – non-state transnational governance schemes can solve the problems they were intended for.'

Further information:
   Book presentation at Edward Elgar's website
   Book presentation leaflet
   Book review (by Erik Hysing in Environment and Planning C)
   Book review (by J. Samuel Barkin Global Environmental Politics)
   Book review (by Magnus Boström in Review of Policy Research)

   Presentation of the author
 The Fridtjof Nansen Institute (FNI) is an independent foundation engaged in research on international environmental, energy, and resource management politics.
The Institute maintains a multi-disciplinary approach, with main emphasis on political science, economics, and international law.

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