Challenges of Sustainability Certification

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Challenges of Sustainability Certification
Anneke Zwart, Moderator
Sustainability certification is being used globally as a method by which a third party assesses norms and standards with regard to environmental, social and ethical issues. Producers of certified products demonstrate that they perform well in specific areas related to sustainability.
Although such certification measures are not without merits, there are also a growing number of challenges associated with sustainability certification:
  1. SCALE VS. CREDIBILTY: Balancing the need to scale up against the need to remain credible and integer. For example, if all producers – no matter how small they are – have the opportunity to become certified, actually the whole idea of certification becomes irrelevant. In other words, one could say that the support of certain product lines to scale needs to be traded off against the support of a larger breath of supporters
  2. GLOBAL VS. LOCAL: The balancing of needs for global standards in a globalized world against the need for local specificity
  3. COST OF COMPLIANCE: The high costs of compliance for certification. Those high costs automatically secludes small-scale producers from certification, which raises the question whether certification truly supports producers in terms of capacity building.
  4. COMPLEXITY OF STANDARDS: The rising complexities with regards to compliance standards and certification schemes confuses manufacturers and international brands.
⇒ What, according to you, can be done to overcome these challenges and secure that certification of products actually results in tangible (and intangible) social and ecological benefits? Are there any other challenges you know of?
Source: Griggs and Espeland (2016. “Innovation or Disruption: The Current State and Projected Future” Sustainable Brands: The Bridge to Better Brands

Challenges of Sustainability Certification in Mining Industry
Gilbert Mlongoti Sinjani, Member
Thanks for your interesting point of view on the challenges being faced to obtain this certification.
My take is sustainability certification should be an ethical issue and left to the industry, in my case the extractive (mining) industry. It is a fact that once minerals (ore, oil, gemstone) are removed from the ground they will never grow back. I suggest that the extractor has to establish a form of livelihood for the communities in which they operate and thus leaving a vibrant eco-system.
Leaving the certification to this industry addresses all the four challenges you have raised. Generally the players in this industry are global and the other dimension to the certification is to develop local/indigenous extractive companies through the value chain. There are international standard bodies that these companies report to addressing the complexity of standards. The companies are generally large so the cost of compliance, issues global versus local and scale versus credibility are addressed in greater detail.



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