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About this book

This open access book focuses on the issue of sustainability standards from the perspective of both global governance frameworks and emerging economies. It stems from the recognition that the accelerated pace of economic globalization has generated production and consumption patterns that are generating sustainability concerns. Sustainability standards (and regulations) are increasingly being used in a bid to make global consumption and production more sustainable. Given the dense inter-connectedness of economic affairs globally, the use of sustainability standards has become a concern of global governance, who face the challenge of achieving a balance between the use of standards for genuine sustainability objectives, and not allowing them to turn into instruments of protectionism or coercion.The emerging economies, given their increasing engagement with the global economy, are most impacted by the use of sustainability standards. The emphasis of ‘emerging economies’ in this book is retained both by using case studies from these economies and by collating perceptions and assessments of those located in these economies. The case studies included span sectors such as palm oil, forestry, food quality, vehicular emissions and water standards, and address the problems unique to the emerging economies, including capacity building for compliance with standards, adapting international standards in domestic contexts and addressing the exclusion of small and medium enterprises etc.
Complex interfaces and dynamics of a global nature are not limited to the thematic of this book but also extend to the process through which it was written. This book brings together insights from developed as well as emerging economies (Germany, India, Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia, Pakistan, Mexico and China). It also brings together scholars and practitioners to jointly ponder upon the conceptual aspects of the global frameworks for sustainability standards. This book is a very useful resource for researchers and practitioners alike, and provides valuable insights for policy makers as well.

Table of Contents

Frontmatter

Open Access

Chapter 1. Introduction

Abstract
While accelerated economic globalization may have generated additional employment and income worldwide, it has also been one of the drivers of unsustainable production and consumption patterns across the globe. Every day, conditions of production somewhere in the world infringe on human health and wellbeing, often far away from the place where the goods and services are eventually purchased by the end consumer. Likewise, current production and consumption models exceed planetary limitations to human activity in many ways, causing irreversible damage to the environment and earth system. These impacts of economic activity are, in principle, recognized today and manifest as key sustainability concerns.
Johannes Blankenbach, Archna Negi, Jorge Antonio Pérez-Pineda

Global Governance Frameworks for Sustainability Standards

Frontmatter

Open Access

Chapter 2. Voluntary Sustainability Standards and the Sustainable Development Goals

Abstract
This chapter explores the extent to which voluntary sustainability standards (VSS) may or may not contribute to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and thus have transformative impacts. The first part is a content analysis of formal VSS requirements, based on the ITC Standards Map data, which points to a considerable number of formal correspondences between VSS criteria and all 17 SDGs, albeit some are less covered than others. This formal analysis is then contrasted with findings from impact studies and other reports on the real-life impacts of VSS. Most studies so far have found only modest or inconclusive sustainable development impacts in the context of VSS adoption. What is of greater concern, however, is growing evidence of the failure of social auditing, a procedure also used to certify and verify standards compliance, in uncovering or mitigating human and labour rights abuses in global value chains. Given the mutually reinforcing relationship between the SDGs and human rights, the pitfalls of certification and verification audits may compromise any transformative potential of VSS. Against this backdrop, there is also considerable doubt as to what role VSS can play in supporting corporate human rights and environmental due diligence in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, all the more so as the former is essentially about companies internalising respect for human rights rather than “outsourcing” it to an external scheme. Human rights and environmental due diligence across global value chains has been identified as a significant contribution of businesses to SDG implementation.
Johannes Blankenbach

Open Access

Chapter 3. The World Trade Organization and Sustainability Standards

Abstract
The steady increase in the use of standards—and sustainability standards in particular—in international trade is well-documented. In the era of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the organization that occupies centre stage in global trade governance—the World Trade Organization (WTO)—is struggling to define its relationship with sustainability standards in their new manifestations and forms. This chapter provides an overview of the evolution of this relationship, analysing the WTO’s dedicated agreements relating to regulations and standards, and subsequent judicial interpretations, which have helped craft the WTO’s position relating to sustainability standards. The new and growing phenomenon of private standards puts the WTO in a sticky situation as, on the one hand, international trade witnesses a mushrooming of private standards while, on the other hand, the WTO, always conscious of its inter-governmental composition, resists the idea of contributing to the regulation of private standards. This chapter sets out the evolution and state of play with regard to the WTO and sustainability standards.
Archna Negi

Open Access

Chapter 4. Towards Greening Trade? Environmental Provisions in Emerging Markets’ Preferential Trade Agreements

Abstract
This chapter focuses on the linkage between economic and environmental governance by tracking environmental provisions in preferential trade agreements (PTAs). While the USA and the European Union are frequently seen as innovators of ‘green’ content in PTAs, systematic research on the role of emerging markets in promoting this development is scarce. For this reason, we develop an original, detailed data set mapping the environmental content in 48 PTAs signed by the emerging markets China, India, Indonesia, Brazil and Mexico. Our findings clearly indicate a trend towards more environmental content in those countries’ PTAs over time. At the same time, the data hint at patterns that suggest that these developments may at least be partly driven by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. The chapter contributes to the literature on the design of PTAs, the linkage between trade and environment, as well as the role of emerging markets in global governance.
Axel Berger, Dominique Blümer, Clara Brandi, Manjiao Chi

Open Access

Chapter 5. Corporate Social Responsibility: The Interface Between the Private Sector and Sustainability Standards

Abstract
This chapter contextualizes the evolution of the private sector in the last decades and examines how this process has led to sustainability standards becoming an important tool for aligning commercial activity with the sustainability agenda. On the one hand, the global governance approach appears to be a potentially useful one for guiding private sector behaviour with the help of a set of globalized norms and regulations. On the other hand, corporate social responsibility is put forth as a useful instrument for activating sustainability standards in different processes and stages of private sector activity. These approaches are reviewed in the context of a particular country case—Mexico. Based on the existing literature as well as on interviews with representative bodies related to CSR and sustainability initiatives, it is suggested that in ensuring that the private sector engages with and contributes to the 2030 Agenda, frameworks such as CSR can prove useful in facilitating the implementation of standards and regulations to meet with larger social goals and expectations.
Jorge Antonio Pérez-Pineda

Open Access

Chapter 6. Advances in Sustainability Reporting: What Is Missing?

Abstract
This chapter reflects upon the importance of sustainability reporting (SR) and how it can be a key instrument of good governance, mainly for governments and civil society organizations. The study is descriptive in nature and based on document analysis. It starts with a brief historical background and description of the evolution of SR and an analysis of the concepts of sustainability standards and good governance. Special focus is given to the Group of Friends of Paragraph 47 (GoF47), a voluntary group of national governments that are in the forefront of the discussions about SR policies. From some case studies observed in literature, we identified sparse evidence of stakeholders’ use of information available in SR—especially civil society and governments. Despite recent advances in reporting practices, experience shows that focus still remains on stimulating companies to publish SR rather than on the effective use of the information provided, which demonstrates that more debate is needed. As a result, this study proposes a set of recommendations to governments and civil society on how these stakeholders could use SR to strengthen corporate social and environmental standards.
Ana Carolina Mendes dos Santos, Ayuni Larissa Mendes Sena, Vana Tércia Silva de Freitas

Open Access

Chapter 7. The Impact of Global Labour Standards on Export Performance

Abstract
Labour standards of a country can impact its export performance. Labour standards of the emerging economies and how these standards impact their export performances and in turn, global trade and governance relations have been a bone of contention among trade theorists and analysts. In this chapter, an attempt is made to empirically test the conventional wisdom and belief that low labour standards, which are prevalent in most emerging economies, give a country some advantages in the form of export competitiveness. The chapter also tests if the effect of labour rights on exports is different at different levels of economic growth. Conducting a cross-country regression exercise with country-fixed effects using a panel data set of maximum 163 countries over the years 1980–2014, it was found that although no definite relation can be established between labour rights and export performance, the result could depend on whether it is a poor or rich country. Specifically, if a richer country ratifies more labour conventions, its effects on exports will be less positive than if a relatively poorer country ratifies the conventions.
Kuntala Bandyopadhyay

Sustainability Standards in Sectoral and Country Contexts

Frontmatter

Open Access

Chapter 8. The Changing Landscape of Sustainability Standards in Indonesia: Potentials and Pitfalls of Making Global Value Chains More Sustainable

Abstract
This chapter investigates the changing landscape of voluntary sustainability standards in Indonesia and discusses potential trade-offs between the socio-economic and environmental dimensions of sustainable development in the context of smallholder certification in the palm oil sector. On the one hand, there is a concern that sustainability standards might weaken the socio-economic situation of smallholders by preventing them from having access to global value chains and markets that demand certification. On the other hand, whereas certification can give rise to socio-economic benefits for smallholders taking part in certification schemes, these benefits may have undesirable consequences for environmental sustainability. The chapter studies these trade-offs and discusses how the synergies between economic, environmental and social sustainability can be promoted.
Clara Brandi

Open Access

Chapter 9. The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) and Its Contribution to Sustainable Forest Management in Indonesia

Abstract
Indonesia has an enormous size of tropical forest and faces numerous problems in its management. Since government regulations and intergovernmental mechanisms are not found to be the effective solutions for such problems, voluntary sustainability standards (VSS) have been introduced as an alternative solution. This chapter examines the role of one such VSS—the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC)—in Indonesia. In particular, it attempts to answer two questions. First, does the PEFC complement or substitute government regulations and other VSS under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)? Second, what is the role envisioned for the PEFC in creating sustainable forest management in Indonesia? Interviews with stakeholders and an analysis of the documents of PEFC, FSC, and government regulations called Sustainable Forest Production Management (PHPL) suggest that PEFC seems to complement government regulations but substitute FSC. Although the PEFC is likely to be widely applied in the country, it is unlikely to emerge as an effective tool to achieve sustainable forest management. Of the two main reasons for this, the first is the lack of support from government and civil society. While the government clearly prioritizes the standard developed by it—the Indonesian Ecolabelling Institute (LEI)—within the civil society, several NGOs are not supportive of voluntary certification. Second, the absence of global and national legitimacy weakens the enforcement role of PEFC.
Pratiwi Kartika, Hariyadi, Cerdikwan

Open Access

Chapter 10. Global and National Food Safety and Quality Standards: Implications and Impacts for Farmers in Thailand and India

Abstract
The aim of this chapter is to contribute to the understanding of how public and private actors in developing countries react to global and national standards and to analyse the implications of diverse standards on smallholders in the fruit and vegetable value chain. To do this, an extensive literature review and semi-structured interviews with stakeholders in the Thai and Indian fruit and vegetable sector have been carried out. Results show that it is the wealthier and more educated small-scale farmers who adopt and benefit from the private standards, indicating that the poorest segment of smallholders has not benefited from donor interventions. In addition, the vast majority of smallholders serve domestic markets or lower-value export markets, where private standards are not a requirement.
Sarah Holzapfel, Aimée Hampel-Milagrosa

Open Access

Chapter 11. Making the Local Work for the Global Best: A Comparative Study of Vehicle Efficiency Standards Implementation in China and Mexico

Abstract
This chapter attempts a comparative assessment of the implementation of fuel efficiency standards in two leading emerging economies—China and Mexico. Fuel efficiency norms and standards have been adopted as tools to address increasing concerns about climate risks, aiming to achieve a reduction in the use of fuel and the aggregate emissions derived from vehicle use. Based upon the methodology of “Most Different Systems Design”, comparative case studies on fuel and vehicle groups in both countries are conducted, which demonstrate that while global efficiency standards are widely recognized as key policy tools and cost effective means of climate change mitigation and private investment, their application and adaptation in emerging economies do not always consider national contexts and often neglect specific economic and sectoral conditions. Fuel efficiency standards should guide public policies, investments and other partnerships, and respond to sustainable development, climate change and industrial priorities. But global standards should not be considered as a “one-size-fits-all” solution, but rather a sustainable guideline for local application aimed at reduction of emissions worldwide.
Juan Carlos Mendoza, CAO Jiahan

Open Access

Chapter 12. Standard-Setting in Water Use and Sustainable Development: A Comparative Critical Analysis of Grey Water Recycling in the Tourism Sector

Abstract
In the current global context, countries try to align their actions with the objective of better management of natural resources. Tourism, as one of the most significant economic sectors in the world economy, has complex implications for the sustainable use of natural resources. Focusing on one particular resource and considering the use of water in tourism, this chapter seeks to understand the extent to which standards and regulations apply to the sustainable use of water in the hotel industry. The chapter is based on an analysis of primary and secondary data relating to the tourism sector in an exploratory and comparative analysis of the tourist hospitality areas of two major cities: Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and Berlin (Germany). Results broadly show that tourists use more water than regular citizens do in comparable activities and highlight that recycling systems are the future of water use in major hotels. However, the existence of standards does not appear to have any strong or direct relationship to present activities aimed at sustainability in this context.
André Coelho, Alexandre Domingues, Maria Cândida A. de M. Mousinho, Cassia Saretta

Open Access

Chapter 13. Conclusions

Abstract
The complexity of current global challenges necessitates innovative and strategic solutions and, in particular, better models of governance. The twenty-first century began with the launch of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), followed by the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015.
Jorge Antonio Pérez-Pineda, Johannes Blankenbach, Archna Negi
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