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Constructing and contesting the legitimacy of private forest governance: The case of forest certification in Sweden
Umeå universitet, Statsvetenskapliga institutionen.ORCID-id: 0000-0001-6823-3503
2013 (Engelska)Doktorsavhandling, sammanläggning (Övrigt vetenskapligt)
Abstract [en]

In recent decades, political scientists have devoted substantial attention to the changing role of the state towards more inclusion of non-state actors in policymaking. This deliberative turn, or move towards governance, may signal inability to handle complex problems without cooperation with nonstate actors. On the other hand, governance is frequently credited with generating legitimate decision-making processes and results. In some instances, non-governmental actors have even taken the lead in policymaking. One archetype of such private governance, which has received significant scholarly attention, is forest certification. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is frequently described as the most democratic and therefore legitimate forest certification organization since it grants equal voting rights to three stakeholder groups in the formulation of criteria for responsible forestry: environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs), social groups (indigenous peoples and labor organizations) and forest owners. However, in Sweden, a country often described as a role model in forest certification, the FSC has increasingly received critique for failing to generate legitimate processes and results, and recently three of five ENGOs have chosen to exit the FSC organization. Such processes of de-legitimation have received little attention in the forest certification literature.

This thesis therefore provides a critical assessment of the legitimacy of forest certification in Sweden. Legitimacy is analyzed through concerned stakeholders’ perceptions of both procedural qualities (input legitimacy) and problem-solving capacity (output legitimacy). This study of legitimacy is combined with an assessment of the ability of certification to enhance environmental protection, defined as changes in both forest management practices and biophysical conditions. The thesis focuses not the least on legitimacy on the local level, which is where the actual implementation takes place. Today local studies of the legitimacy of forest certification are rare.

Both quantitative and qualitative research methods are applied and a number of sources are analyzed: forest monitoring data, survey data, interviews with and documents produced by the participating stakeholders. Papers I and IV analyze the perceived legitimacy of forest certification, while Papers II and III analyze forest certification schemes’ ability to enhance environmental protection.

The results show that a process of de-legitimation is occurring in Swedish forest certification. In particular, certification has lost legitimacy with ENGOs, which increasingly consider Swedish forest certification to lack both input legitimacy and output legitimacy. Moreover, although the Swedish FSC standard pays attention to reindeer husbandry, the results show that reindeer herders consider themselves to have limited power to influence long-term forest planning and management (low output legitimacy). The forest industry, on the other hand, increasingly grants legitimacy to forest certification due to customer demands, which are created not the least by pressures from international ENGOs and by EU regulation. The results also show that Swedish forest companies have paid more attention to their environmental practices after obtaining certification. However, to what extent these changes result in positive environmental impacts remains uncertain, especially since forests in Sweden grow slowly, which requires analyses over time. There are also measurement problems resulting from the low certification rate among small-scale forest owners and from the fact that certified small-scale owners tend to be more active in their management.

These findings highlight that research on private forest governance should not neglect the role of the state, neither as a buyer nor as a regulator. These findings also suggest that further research should pay attention to power asymmetries in private governance and develop methods for better understanding and evaluating the certification schemes’ environmental and social impacts.

Ort, förlag, år, upplaga, sidor
Umeå: Statsvetenskapliga institutionen, Umeå universitetet , 2013. , s. 81
Serie
Statsvetenskapliga institutionens skriftserie, ISSN 0349-0831 ; 2013:1
Nyckelord [en]
accountability, corporate social responsibility, eco-labelling, forest certification, forest governance, forest practices, governance, legitimacy, national forest inventory, private governance, Sweden, voluntary standards
Nationell ämneskategori
Statsvetenskap
Identifikatorer
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-25717ISBN: 978-91-7459-528-4 (tryckt)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:sh-25717DiVA, id: diva2:776337
Disputation
2013-02-08, Samhällsvetarhuset, Hörsal C, Umeå universitet, 13:15 (Svenska)
Opponent
Handledare
Tillgänglig från: 2015-01-07 Skapad: 2015-01-07 Senast uppdaterad: 2019-04-23Bibliografiskt granskad
Delarbeten
1. Challenges to the Legitimacy of Private Forest Governance: the Development of Forest Certification in Sweden
Öppna denna publikation i ny flik eller fönster >>Challenges to the Legitimacy of Private Forest Governance: the Development of Forest Certification in Sweden
2012 (Engelska)Ingår i: Environmental Policy and Governance, ISSN 1756-932X, E-ISSN 1756-9338, Vol. 22, nr 6, s. 424-436Artikel i tidskrift (Refereegranskat) Published
Abstract [en]

Substantial scholarly attention has been given to the effectiveness and legitimacy of private forest governance, especially the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). Research has suggested that such cooperation between forest corporations and ENGOs may develop shared norms for responsible forestry. At least initially, however, conflicts are likely to occur since these stakeholders are accountable to different constituencies.Yet there are comparatively few studies on how such conflicts have affected the development and legitimacy of forest certification on the national level, which is where conflicts must be managed. This study explores how stakeholders’ search for accountability has influenced the legitimacy of forest certification schemes, drawing on developments in Sweden. The study relies on the theoretical foundations of governance, legitimacy and accountability, and on reports from forest corporations and ENGOs. The results show that these stakeholders have continuously disagreed on the input and output legitimacy of forest certification, though the positions have changed over time, eventually making ENGOs reject forest certification schemes. These repeated conflicts have been fuelled by the stakeholders’ search for public reputational accountability and market accountability. In effect, the very meaning of the FSC label is today being questioned. Thereby forest certification in Sweden has, at least temporarily, left the suggested path to the evolution of shared norms. These results call for related studies on how to manage accountability issues and power relations in forest certification.

Ort, förlag, år, upplaga, sidor
John Wiley & Sons, 2012
Nyckelord
accountability; forest certification; governance; legitimacy; Sweden
Nationell ämneskategori
Statsvetenskap
Identifikatorer
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-25719 (URN)10.1002/eet.1591 (DOI)000312807500003 ()2-s2.0-84871695617 (Scopus ID)
Tillgänglig från: 2012-10-10 Skapad: 2015-01-07 Senast uppdaterad: 2020-03-30Bibliografiskt granskad
2. Can voluntary standards regulate forestry?: Assessing the environmental impacts of forest certification in Sweden
Öppna denna publikation i ny flik eller fönster >>Can voluntary standards regulate forestry?: Assessing the environmental impacts of forest certification in Sweden
2011 (Engelska)Ingår i: Forest Policy and Economics, ISSN 1389-9341, E-ISSN 1872-7050, Vol. 13, nr 3, s. 191-198Artikel i tidskrift (Refereegranskat) Published
Abstract [en]

This article addresses the issue of to what extent forest certification schemes contribute to the enhancement of environmental protection in Swedish forestry. Our assessment is built on the analysis of three different data sets, namely: 1) the Swedish National Forest Inventory (NFI), 2) the Swedish Database for Forest Owner Analysis, presenting data on small-scale forestry practices and certification, and 3) a follow-up mail survey addressed to private small-scale forest owners with certified forest properties. Our NFI analysis indicated some minor improvements in forest conditions, corresponding with the interim target for enhanced biological diversity (dead wood, broad-leaved trees and old forests). The improvements were less evident on large-scale forest properties (certified in accordance with the Forest Stewardship Council scheme) than on small-scale private forest properties (mainly certified in accordance with the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes). This contradicts a common assumption that a much higher degree of certification with stricter environmental standards will give more evident positive impacts on environmental conditions. However, results from the follow-up survey showed that more harvesting activity had taken place on certified small-scale forest properties than on non-certified properties. This could mean more negative effects on biodiversity. We conclude by stressing the importance of improving quantitative methods for determining a cause-and-effect relationship between certification and nature protection; previous research tends to report rather far-reaching conclusions based on limited data sets.

Ort, förlag, år, upplaga, sidor
Elsevier, 2011
Nyckelord
Forest certification, National Forest Inventory, Environmental objectives, Regulation, Forest practices
Nationell ämneskategori
Statsvetenskap (exklusive studier av offentlig förvaltning och globaliseringsstudier)
Identifikatorer
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-25722 (URN)10.1016/j.forpol.2010.11.004 (DOI)000289496200007 ()2-s2.0-79952451426 (Scopus ID)
Tillgänglig från: 2011-02-22 Skapad: 2015-01-07 Senast uppdaterad: 2020-03-30Bibliografiskt granskad
3. Why do forest companies change their CSR strategies? Responses to market demands and public regulation through dual-certification
Öppna denna publikation i ny flik eller fönster >>Why do forest companies change their CSR strategies? Responses to market demands and public regulation through dual-certification
2014 (Engelska)Ingår i: Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, ISSN 0964-0568, E-ISSN 1360-0559, Vol. 57, nr 3, s. 349-368Artikel i tidskrift (Refereegranskat) Published
Abstract [en]

Certification represents a comparatively new means of CSR, which is important in the forest industry. Forest companies and industries have previously certified their management and products in accordance with one of the competing systems (FSC: Forest Stewardship Council and PEFC: Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes), but recently, important large-scale companies in several countries have started to certify under both schemes. This study explores the causes and effects of this change in strategies, drawing on semi-structured interviews with Swedish forest companies and industries and European retailers. The results show that public bodies, not the least in the EU, as well as ENGOs, have transformed customer demands, resulting in dual-certification. This change in strategies has the potential to alter corporate environmental practices throughout the supply chains. These results call for further research on the under-studied issue of the interaction between public regulation and private forest governance.

Ort, förlag, år, upplaga, sidor
Routledge, 2014
Nyckelord
corporate social responsibility (CSR), forest certification, timber trade regulation, responsible procurement
Nationell ämneskategori
Statsvetenskap
Identifikatorer
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-25720 (URN)10.1080/09640568.2012.743882 (DOI)000329604600003 ()2-s2.0-84892477760 (Scopus ID)
Tillgänglig från: 2012-12-18 Skapad: 2015-01-07 Senast uppdaterad: 2020-04-01Bibliografiskt granskad
4. Towards democratic and effective forest governance?: The discursive legitimation of forest certification in northern Sweden
Öppna denna publikation i ny flik eller fönster >>Towards democratic and effective forest governance?: The discursive legitimation of forest certification in northern Sweden
2014 (Engelska)Ingår i: Local Environment: the International Journal of Justice and Sustainability, ISSN 1354-9839, E-ISSN 1469-6711, Vol. 19, nr 7, s. 803-819Artikel i tidskrift (Refereegranskat) Published
Abstract [en]

Forest certification, particularly that of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), is frequently claimed to constitute an effective and democratic private governance arrangement for responsible forestry. It has, however, recently been questioned whether this view holds true for the northernmost countries, which have traditionally been presented as successful examples of forest certification. Yet there is little research on the perceived legitimacy of forest certification at the local level, which is where the standard implementation takes place. This paper examines how the perceived legitimacy of forest certification is created as well as challenged at the local level in Sweden, drawing on Steffek's [2009. Discursive legitimation in environmental governance. Forest Policy and Economics, 11, 313–318] conceptualisation of discursive legitimation and Bernstein's [2011. Legitimacy in intergovernmental and non-state global governance. Review of International Political Economy, 18 (1), 17–51] definition of legitimacy as well as semi-structured interviews with forest companies, reindeer husbandry (indigenous Sámi) and environmental non-governmental organisations (ENGOs). The results reveal that local ENGOs question the FSC's decision-making process and results, while both the ENGOs and reindeer husbandry see few opportunities to influence long-term forest management. These findings highlight the difficulties of managing power asymmetries in certification and the challenges involved when certification standards are translated from policy to practice.

Ort, förlag, år, upplaga, sidor
Taylor & Francis Group, 2014
Nyckelord
forest certification, discourse, legitimacy, governance, reindeer husbandry
Nationell ämneskategori
Statsvetenskap
Identifikatorer
urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-25718 (URN)10.1080/13549839.2013.792050 (DOI)2-s2.0-84904469369 (Scopus ID)
Anmärkning

Published online: 07 May 2013

Tillgänglig från: 2013-01-09 Skapad: 2015-01-07 Senast uppdaterad: 2019-04-23Bibliografiskt granskad

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