'Certification schemes and the governance of land: enforcing standards or enabling scrutiny?'

Elizabeth R M Fortin, Ben Richardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Given the challenges of upholding human rights in countries where land grabbing has been most acute, attention has turned to alternative regulatory mechanisms by which better land governance might be brought about. This essay considers one such approach: certification schemes. These encourage agricultural producers to adopt sustainability standards which are then monitored by third-party auditors. Used by the European Union to help govern its biofuel market, they now also have an important mandatory dimension. However, through a study of Bonsucro and the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels, we find both flaws in their standards and shortcomings in their ability to discipline the companies they are financially dependent upon. In sum, we suggest that the real value of these roundtable certification schemes might lie less in their ability to enforce standards than their (partially realised) role in enabling scrutiny, providing new possibilities for corporate accountability in transnational commodity chains.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-159
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Structured keywords

  • PolicyBristolGlobalPoliticalEconomy


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