International Sustainability Standards and Certification

Research output: Contributions to collected editions/worksChapterpeer-review


Standards have evolved as the major mode of governance for biofuels. In particular, the European Union (EU) policy approach actively employs a variety of voluntary certification standards under its meta-standard in order to safeguard sustainability of its mandated biofuel demand. Advantages and disadvantages of this novel, hybrid governance arrangement have been widely discussed. In order to fully understand the implications of this international governance arrangement, we argue that more research is required to determine the dynamics that evolve in specific contexts as to whether standards come to matter and which. In this chapter, we highlight two macro-level factors of such dynamics-markets and policy-for the geographic focus of this volume: Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). The current adoption of standards reflects the production and trade patterns of the region. EU sustainability criteria are most relevant for the biodiesel exporting industry in Argentina, while the US standard for greenhouse gas (GHG) savings influences Brazilian ethanol producers. Showing a tendency to minimal compliance, the current standard adoption in Argentina points at problematic dynamics within the EU Renewable Energy Directive (RED) governance arrangement. Weak regulatory and policy frameworks may pose barriers to the uptake of certification standards. Especially in LAC, where biofuel production often developed from already existing flex crop industries, biofuel policy is embedded in multiple sectoral policy areas and historical agrarian structures. The EU's 100% captive market for certified biofuels is likely to help overcoming this barrier. However, further research is urgently needed as to whether certification in weak policy contexts has complementarity or cosmetic effects.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSustainable Development of Biofuels in Latin America and the Caribbean
EditorsBarry D. Solomon , Robert Bailis
Number of pages43
Place of PublicationNew York
Publication date01.11.2014
ISBN (print)1461492742, 9781461492740
ISBN (electronic)978-1-4614-9275-7
Publication statusPublished - 01.11.2014

    Research areas

  • Sustainability sciences, Management & Economics - Biofuels policy, Blending mandates, Certification, European Union Renewable Energy Directive (EU RED), Food security, Governance, Greenhouse gas (GHG), Land rights, Land use change, Sugarcane