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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Blackman, Allen & Rivera, Jorge, 2010. "The Evidence Base for Environmental and Socioeconomic Impacts of “Sustainable” Certification," Discussion Papers dp-10-10-efd, Resources For the Future.
  • Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-10-10-efd
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Podhorsky, Andrea, 2015. "A positive analysis of Fairtrade certification," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 169-185.
    2. Sylvaine Lemeilleur & Gilles Allaire, 2017. "Standardisation and guarantee systems: what can participatory certification offer?," Working Papers hal-01594049, HAL.
    3. Lemeilleur, S. & Allaire, G., 2016. "Standardisation and guarantee systems: what can participatory certification offer?," Working Papers MOISA 201605, UMR MOISA : Marchés, Organisations, Institutions et Stratégies d'Acteurs : CIHEAM-IAMM, CIRAD, INRA, Montpellier SupAgro - Montpellier, France.
    4. Auriol, Emmanuelle & Schilizzi, Steven G.M., 2015. "Quality signaling through certification in developing countries," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 105-121.
    5. Ngougheme, Rene & Kamdem, Cyrille Bergaly & Jagoret, Patrick & Havard, Michel, 2016. "Impact de la certification sur les performances agro-economiques des producteurs de cacao du centre Cameroun," 2016 AAAE Fifth International Conference, September 23-26, 2016, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 249294, African Association of Agricultural Economists (AAAE).
    6. repec:eee:wodepe:v:7-8:y:2017:i::p:32-42 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Foran, Tira & Butler, James R.A. & Williams, Liana J. & Wanjura, Wolf J. & Hall, Andy & Carter, Lucy & Carberry, Peter S., 2014. "Taking Complexity in Food Systems Seriously: An Interdisciplinary Analysis," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 85-101.
    8. Hidayat, Kurniawati Nia & Glasbergen, Pieter & Offermans, Astrid, 2015. "Sustainability Certification and Palm Oil Smallholders’ Livelihood: A Comparison between Scheme Smallholders and Independent Smallholders in Indonesia," International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA), vol. 18(3).
    9. van Rijsbergen, Bart & Elbers, Willem & Ruben, Ruerd & Njuguna, Samuel N., 2016. "The Ambivalent Impact of Coffee Certification on Farmers’ Welfare: A Matched Panel Approach for Cooperatives in Central Kenya," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 277-292.
    10. Kleemann, Linda & Abdulai, Awudu & Buss, Mareike, 2014. "Certification and Access to Export Markets: Adoption and Return on Investment of Organic-Certified Pineapple Farming in Ghana," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 79-92.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    sustainable; certification; eco-label; literature review;

    JEL classification:

    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth

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