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  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: June 2012

7 - Non-state global environmental governance


In October 1993, 130 representatives from twenty-six countries met in Toronto, Canada, to inaugurate a governance regime designed to protect the world's forests. Participants agreed on ten principles for sustainable forest management, from controlling harvests to ensure steady timber yields over time while protecting fragile ecosystems, to protecting the rights of local forest-dwellers. The implementation of these principles would not be cost-free, and monitoring compliance hard to achieve. Nonetheless, participants agreed that this program represented a significant step forward in global forest conservation, while still allowing forest owners to benefit economically.

This governance institution – the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) – now covers 67 million hectares of forest across sixty-five countries. In many ways, it looks something like the treaty regimes we have examined in previous chapters. But, in many more ways, it is critically different. First, none of the participants at the Toronto meeting were government representatives. Instead, the driving force behind the establishment of the FSC was a coalition of NGOs, forest owners and timber companies, and forest-dwelling communities, led by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), a leading international NGO. Second, the FSC achieves its goals through the transmission of information and the power of the market. If a timber-producing firm signs up to its standards, it agrees to allow an independent auditor to certify its compliance with FSC principles.

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suggestions for Further reading
Bartley, Tim. “Certifying Forests and Factories: States, Social Movements, and the Rise of Private Regulation in the Apparel and Forest Products Fields.” Politics and Society 31.3 (2003), pp. 433–64: a theoretical explanation of the emergence of non-state environmental governance, comparing apparel and forest products, and focusing on the institutional context enabling the emergence of these new forms of governance.
Cashore, Benjamin, Auld, Graeme, and Newsom, Deanna. Governing through Markets: Forest Certification and the Emergence of Non-State Authority. New Haven CO: Yale University Press, 2004: a prizewinning book that examines factors explaining where and how FSC standards are taken up in different developed countries, with a critical discussion of issues of legitimacy and authority in non-state market driven governance.
Garcia-Johnson, Ronie. Exporting Environmentalism: U.S. Multinational Chemical Corporations in Brazil and Mexico. Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 2000: Garcia-Johnson's path-breaking study of when multinational corporations are able to improve environmental performance in the countries where they locate, comparing Mexico and Brazil.
Hall, Rodney Bruce, and Biersteker, Thomas J., eds. The Emergence of Private Authority in Global Governance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002: a theoretical examination of all forms of private authority in the international system – from certification schemes to privatized security.
Ottaway, Marina. “Corporatism goes global: International organizations, nongovernmental organization networks, and transnational business.” Global Governance 7 (2001), pp. 265–92: a critique of the partnership approach to global governance, specifically the World Commission on Dams.
Prakash, Aseem, and Potoski, Matthew. “Racing to the bottom? Trade, environmental governance, and ISO 14001.” American Journal of Political Science 50.2 (2006), pp. 350–64: an empirical examination of when ISO 14001 rules make a positive difference in environmental quality.
Princen, Thomas. “Distancing: Consumption and the severing of feedback.” Confronting Consumption, edited by Princen, Thomas, Maniates, Michael F, and Conca, Ken. Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 2002: a chapter that examines why, in a globalized world, effective regulation of investment and production is so difficult.