This paper explores the potential for voluntary sustainability standards (VSS) organizations to contribute to policy-making on biodiversity protection by examining their biodiversity policies, total standard compliant area, proximity to biodiversity hotspots, and the networks and partnerships they have in place that can support policy-making on biodiversity protection. The analysis undertaken is based on Social Network Analysis data, in combination with information from the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) Standards and Biodiversity Review and the International Trade Centre (ITC) Standards Map on the focus and operation of VSS organizations. The significance of agriculture-focused private governance for global biodiversity policy and their relationship towards other forms of nongovernmental, governmental, and inter-governmental biodiversity policy are examined and described. We argue that, at present, a number of key agriculture-focused VSS organizations are important policy actors to address biodiversity because of their elaborate biodiversity policies, total compliant areas, and proximity to biodiversity hotspots. However, at present, most of these VSS organizations have relatively few ties with relevant governmental and inter-governmental biodiversity policymakers. The actor composition of their inter-organizational networks currently reflects a focus on nongovernmental rather than governmental organizations while substantively they focus more on development than on environmental protection issues.

Agriculture, Biodiversity, Hotspots, Networks, Standards, Sustainability
School of Public Policy and Administration

Fransen, L. (Luc), Schalk, J. (Jelmer), Kok, M. (Marcel), Voora, V. (Vivek), Potts, J. (Jason), Joosten, M. (Max), … Auld, G. (2018). Biodiversity protection through networks of voluntary sustainability standard organizations?. Sustainability, 10(12). doi:10.3390/su10124379