Accountability Arrangements in Non-State Standards Organizations: Instrumental Design and Imitation

dc.contributor.authorGulbrandsen, L.H.
dc.titleAccountability Arrangements in Non-State Standards Organizations: Instrumental Design and Imitationen
dcterms.accessRightsLimited access
dcterms.typeJournal Article
fsc.evidenceCategoryFSC impact-related
fsc.focus.sustainDimensionPolitical, legal, systemic
is.availability.fullTextFull text available
is.contributor.memberForest Stewardship Council
is.evaluation.notesUseful article that analyses accountability structures within social and environmental standard schemes focussing particularly on FSC as frontrunner, MSC as follower and the industry-designed schemes as a 'bad example'.
is.evaluation.quotesFSC has organized accountability by requiring inclusiveness in standarddevelopment and on the governing bodies of the scheme, broad stakeholder participation,decision-making transparency, accreditation of third-party auditors, and public disclosure ofcertification and audit results
is.evaluation.quotesEvidence suggests that the steps taken by industry-dominated standardsorganizations to enhance autonomy and inclusiveness in part serve to justify a business-as-usualsituation and avoid building a capacity and commitment to be responsive to environmental andsocial groups.
is.evaluation.quotesThe article argues that while certification schemes could enhance control ofcorporate environmental and social performance, some of the industry-dominated schemes adoptpopular and fashionable accountability recipes to divert criticism of their activities instead ofacting responsively to external constituents such as environmental and social groups.
is.evaluation.quotesWhile MSC thus far is the only multi-criteria certification and labeling scheme for wildcaughtfisheries all over the world, FSC has been challenged by a number of industry-dominatedforest certification schemes. Displeased with the stringency of FSC criteria, national forestryinterest groups and industry associations around the world responded by establishing competingschemes to create more flexible and discretionary certification standards and regain control overthe issue area of forest governance.
is.evaluation.quotesNonetheless, the industry and forest owners' associations that established certification programsin opposition to FSC, have increasingly mimicked FSC's decision-making structure andcertification model to enhance the credibility of their programs among buyers, retailers andenvironmental organizations. These organizational changes are, in part, a response to advocacygroup pressure on industry-dominated schemes, who accuse them of unaccountability, lacking intransparency and stakeholder participation, and of rejecting public disclosure of certification results (e.g. Ozinga, 2001, 2004; Vallejo and Hauselmann, 2001). Specifically, competition withFSC for legitimacy and rule-making authority forced the industry-based programs to accept somedegree of scrutiny from and answerability to outside stakeholders (Cashore et al., 2004;Meidinger, 2006). The emergence of new global norms and principles on transparency,stakeholder democracy and business-NGO deliberation – frequently invoked by the critics ofindustry-led certification schemes – effectively limited the range of available options to organizeaccountability, making a FSC-style accountability model much harder to avoid.
is.evaluation.quotesThe principles and criteria of FSC embody relatively stringent performance-basedstandards, and require on-the-ground field inspections. To discourage certifiers from favoringapplicants in certification audits, FSC reviews selected audits by certifiers and can suspend andrevoke certification authority if serious breaches with standards are disclosed (Meidinger, 2006:72). FSC also requires certifiers to disclose certification and audit reports to the public and toissue summaries of the reports. By contrast, the landowner and industry-dominated schemes aregenerally reluctant to bring stakeholders on board and to allow complaints in the certificationprocess (Ozinga, 2004; Nussbaum and Simula, 2005). Not all schemes require on-the-groundfield inspections of forestry operations and environmental performance, focusing instead on themanagement system of forest companies. This was initially the preferred approach of the forestowner and industry-led European and American schemes, but as a result of competition with FSCfor credibility and legitimacy they have introduced some performance-based elements in theoperation of the schemes. Similarly, several schemes that used to have lax or no auditingrequirements have introduced more demanding auditing procedures to enhance control over thoseadopting the standards.
is.focus.systemElementMandE outcomes and impacts
is.focus.systemElementMandE performance monitoring
is.identifier.schemeNameForest Stewardship Council
is.identifier.schemeTypeVoluntary Sustainability Standards
is.item.reviewStatusPeer reviewed
is.journalNameJournal Indexing and Metrics