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Certification Systems as Tools for Natural Asset Building: Potential, Experiences to Date, and Critical Challenges

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  • Michael E. Conroy

Abstract

Certification systems are becoming important tools to encourage and reward social and environmental responsibility. This paper explores whether these systems, which generally have not been designed for the explicit aim of poverty reduction, can assist poor people, either individually or in community-based and small-to-medium production units, to build their natural assets as a basis for sustainable livelihoods. The paper examines two leading certification systems – the Forest Stewardship Council™ and the Fair Trade Certified™ system – and emerging systems in tourism and mining. The results to date have been mixed. In the forestry sector, poverty reduction benefits of certification have been modest relative to its environmental benefits. In the agricultural commodity trade, where certification systems have been designed with a stronger focus on reducing poverty, the benefits have been greater. The long-term challenge is to ensure that the rapid global uptake and ‘mainstreaming’ of certification systems does not create new hurdles for low-income individuals and communities.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael E. Conroy, 2005. "Certification Systems as Tools for Natural Asset Building: Potential, Experiences to Date, and Critical Challenges," Working Papers wp100, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
  • Handle: RePEc:uma:periwp:wp100
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    File URL: https://www.peri.umass.edu/fileadmin/pdf/working_papers/working_papers_51-100/WP100.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Michael E. Conroy, 2001. "Can Advocacy-Led Certification Systems Transform Global Corporate Practices? Evidence, and Some Theory," Working Papers wp21, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
    2. James K. Boyce & Manuel Pastor, 2001. "Building Natural Assets: New Strategies for Poverty Reduction and Environmental Protection," Research Reports rr3, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    certification; social responsibility; environmental responsibility; povery reduction; natural assets; sustainable livelihoods; Forest Stewardship Council™; Fair Trade Certified™; tourism; mining; forestry; agriculture; globalization;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • F02 - International Economics - - General - - - International Economic Order and Integration
    • F18 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade and Environment
    • J80 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - General
    • L31 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Nonprofit Institutions; NGOs; Social Entrepreneurship
    • L72 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Primary Products and Construction - - - Mining, Extraction, and Refining: Other Nonrenewable Resources
    • L73 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Primary Products and Construction - - - Forest Products

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