Contextualizing certification and auditing: Soy certification and access of local communities to land and water in Brazil

Publikation: Beiträge in ZeitschriftenZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungbegutachtet


The massive expansion of soy production in Brazil has contributed to a loss of access for local communities
to land and water, particularly in highly dynamic frontier regions in the Cerrado. Soy certification
standards like the Roundtable on Responsible Soy (RTRS) contain principles that are supposed to prevent
such problems. In this paper, we examine the extent to which certification and auditing have served to
protect local communities’ access to land and water in western Bahía state in the Cerrado’s Matopiba
region. We draw on findings from field research in Brazil and western Bahía, 72 semi-structured interviews
with corporate, state and civil society actors, and a systematic analysis of audit reports from
RTRS-certified farms in Bahía.
We find that auditing practices are not effective in protecting the rights and access of local communities
to land and water due to three inter-related sets of factors: 1) the business-dominated nature of the
drafting and content of the RTRS standard, 2) the structural limitations and everyday practices of auditing,
and 3) domestic and local contextual factors in Brazil and western Bahía.
This study aims to contribute to a re-thinking and re-assessment of certification and auditing practices
and suggests that new approaches are required to govern global commodity chains in a more environmentally
just way. We advocate for a locally embedded and community-sensitive perspective in research
on certification and auditing, to complement previous research in the fields of critical political economy
and sustainability governance.
ZeitschriftWorld Development
Anzahl der Seiten12
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 01.04.2021

Zugehörige Projekte

  • Governance nachhaltiger Entwicklung in globalen Systemen inter-regionaler Fernwirkungen

    Projekt: Forschung