Public Sector Engagement with Private Governance Programmes: Interactions and Evolutionary Effects in Forest and Fisheries Certification

In Judith van Erp, Michael Faure, André Nollkaemper and Niels Philipsen (eds), Smart Mixes for Transboundary Environmental Harm. Cambridge University Press, 2019, pp. 210-234.

The certification of forests, fisheries, agricultural products and other commodities is usually characterized as a privatized form of regulation and governance. Although several studies have recognized that states enable or constrain private governance efforts, we still know too little about the interactions between private and public authority in the governance of various transboundary problems. Through an examination of the role and influence of states in forest and fisheries certification programs, I argue that public and private governance efforts are closely intertwined. The examination shows that forest and fisheries certification programs have been influenced by the particular policy domains in which they emerged, through government efforts to regulate, support or compete with these programs, and through public procurement policies and other responsible procurement initiatives. I argue that the effectiveness of certification programs in resolving the problems they were created to address depends critically on their interactions with government regulations. I also highlight key differences between public sector engagement in forest and fisheries certification programs and discuss implications for future government engagement with such programs.



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