Towards sustainability. The Roles and Limitations of Certification
In today's marketplace, consumers facing an in-store or online display of products typically have to choose from among items produced in distant places under unknown conditions. High-profi le cases of contaminated food, child labor, animal welfare problems, and the collapse of fi sheries and other resources have raised consumer concerns about how products are made or Companies also face challenges in assuring that their sources of supply will be avail- able over the long term and that their brands and reputations will thrive. Major global brands have been called into question concerning practices associated with their products. Certifi ed products—such as sustainable seafood, organic food, fair trade coffee, and responsibly harvested wood—are often presented as part of the solution. But are certifi ed products really better for the environment? Are they better for people and communities? Can they catalyze more sustainable production and consumption across whole sectors? Under what circumstances do they promote sustainable practices? This document summarizes the fi ndings of an assessment of the state of knowledge available to companies, investors, practitioners, and consumers seeking answers to questions about the performance and potential of certifi cation and voluntary standards.harvested.