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The Evidence Base for Environmental and Socioeconomic Impacts of “Sustainable” Certification

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  • Blackman, Allen

    ()
    (Resources for the Future)

  • Rivera, Jorge

Abstract

Initiatives certifying that farms and firms adhere to predefined environmental and social welfare production standards are increasingly popular. According to proponents, they create financial incentives for farms and firms to improve their environmental and socioeconomic performance. This paper reviews the evidence on whether sustainable certification of agricultural commodities and tourism operations actually has such benefits. It identifies empirical ex post farm-level studies of certification, classifies them on the basis of whether they use methods likely to generate credible results, summarizes their findings, and considers the implications for future research. We conclude that empirical evidence that sustainable certification has significant benefits is limited. We identify just 37 relevant studies, only 14 of which use methods likely to generate credible results. Of these 14 studies, only 6 find that certification has environmental or socioeconomic benefits. This evidence can be expanded by incorporating rigorous, independent evaluation into the design and implementation of projects promoting sustainable certification.

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Paper provided by Resources For the Future in its series Discussion Papers with number dp-10-10-efd.

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Date of creation: 26 Mar 2010
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Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-10-10-efd

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Keywords: sustainable; certification; eco-label; literature review;

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  1. Gobbi, Jose A., 2000. "Is biodiversity-friendly coffee financially viable? An analysis of five different coffee production systems in western El Salvador," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 267-281, May.
  2. Blackman, Allen & Naranjo, Maria A., 2010. "Does Eco-Certification Have Environmental Benefits? Organic Coffee in Costa Rica," Discussion Papers dp-10-25-efd, Resources For the Future.
  3. Nilsson, Tomas K.H. & Foster, Kenneth A., 2004. "Product And Process Certification In Imperfectly Competitive Markets," 2004 Annual meeting, August 1-4, Denver, CO 19933, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
  4. Muradian, Roldan & Pelupessy, Wim, 2005. "Governing the coffee chain: The role of voluntary regulatory Systems," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 33(12), pages 2029-2044, December.
  5. Michael Greenstone & Ted Gayer, 2007. "Quasi-Experimental and Experimental Approaches to Environmental Economics," Working Papers 0713, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research.
  6. Giovannucci, Daniele & Ponte, Stefano, 2005. "Standards as a new form of social contract? Sustainability initiatives in the coffee industry," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 284-301, June.
  7. Laura T. Raynolds & Douglas Murray & Peter Leigh Taylor, 2004. "Fair trade coffee: building producer capacity via global networks," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(8), pages 1109-1121.
  8. Frondel, Manuel & Schmidt, Christoph M., 2001. "Evaluating environmental programs: the perspective of modern evaluation research," ZEW Discussion Papers 01-59, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  9. Owari, Toshiaki & Juslin, Heikki & Rummukainen, Arto & Yoshimura, Tetsuhiko, 2006. "Strategies, functions and benefits of forest certification in wood products marketing: Perspectives of Finnish suppliers," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 380-391, December.
  10. Nebel, Gustav & Quevedo, Lincoln & Bredahl Jacobsen, Jette & Helles, Finn, 2005. "Development and economic significance of forest certification: the case of FSC in Bolivia," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 175-186, February.
  11. Becchetti, Leonardo & Costantino, Marco, 2008. "The Effects of Fair Trade on Affiliated Producers: An Impact Analysis on Kenyan Farmers," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 36(5), pages 823-842, May.
  12. Bolwig, Simon & Gibbon, Peter & Jones, Sam, 2009. "The Economics of Smallholder Organic Contract Farming in Tropical Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 1094-1104, June.
  13. Gulbrandsen, Lars H., 2009. "The emergence and effectiveness of the Marine Stewardship Council," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(4), pages 654-660, July.
  14. Hicks, Robert L. & Schnier, Kurt E., 2008. "Eco-labeling and dolphin avoidance: A dynamic model of tuna fishing in the Eastern Tropical Pacific," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 103-116, September.
  15. Valkila, Joni, 2009. "Fair Trade organic coffee production in Nicaragua -- Sustainable development or a poverty trap?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(12), pages 3018-3025, October.
  16. Gardiner, P.R. & Viswanathan, K.K., 2004. "Ecolabelling and fisheries management," Working Papers, The WorldFish Center, number 15969.
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