Nonstate certification programs have emerged as a new tool for steering the use and exchange of natural resources. Yet, despite being innovative, certification remains controversial. Questions surround how best to engage mainstream businesses in certification and respond to the proliferation of schemes. Examining the coffee sector, this article engages these debates to discuss whether certification can be a tool for change and what type of change that is likely to be. It argues that certification programs alone struggle to account for the great diversity of production systems by which and social contexts in which coffee is grown.The innovative dynamism of certain companies and nongovernmental organizations supported by public awareness for ethical and environmental coffee may, therefore, be a great strength facilitating constant adaptation and learning. Certification's potential will, in other words, turn on how it intersects with other private and government-led initiatives addressing coffee-sector challenges.

, , , ,
Journal of Environment and Development
School of Public Policy and Administration

Auld, G. (2010). Assessing certification as governance: Effects and broader consequences for coffee. Journal of Environment and Development, 19(2), 215–241. doi:10.1177/1070496510368506