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Sustainability certification schemes: evaluating their effectiveness and adaptability

Renzo Mori Junior (Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining, Sustainable Minerals Institute, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)
Daniel M. Franks (Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining, Sustainable Minerals Institute, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)
Saleem H. Ali (Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining, Sustainable Minerals Institute, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)

Corporate Governance

ISSN: 1472-0701

Article publication date: 6 June 2016

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Abstract

Purpose

New sustainability certification schemes (SCS) with different scope, governance structure and operating practice are fast emerging. This rapid growth and divergence in metrics has resulted in questions about the effectiveness of such schemes. Although this practice has been growing fast, to date, there are no reviews comprehensively synthesising the literature regarding SCS’ main flaws, challenges and improvement opportunities. This paper aims to identify what are the key components affecting effectiveness of SCS, highlighting their benefits, flaws and improvement opportunities.

Design/methodology/approach

An integrated literature review was conducted to identify and assess recent studies related to the benefits, flaws, effectiveness and improvement opportunities of SCS worldwide.

Findings

Key components affecting the effectiveness of SCS were identified (sustainability awareness; market access; management systems and productivity; social, environmental and economic impacts; monitoring outcomes; competition, overlapping and interoperability; stakeholder participation; and accountability and transparency). The authors argue that SCS to succeed have to be effective; provide accountability about their goals and achievements; and manage stakeholders’ expectations. Civil Society’s awareness of the scientific underpinnings of sustainability issues also contributes to the existence and improvement of such schemes.

Research limitations/implications

The limitations of this study are associated with the secondary material that was publicly available for our literature review.

Originality/value

This paper fulfils an identified need to explore the key components affecting effectiveness of SCS, their benefits, flaws and improvement opportunities. Such a synthesis also identifies the key areas where interoperability between SCS should be pursued by corporations and governments.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors acknowledge the support of the Tiffany & Co. Foundation and are grateful for comments from anonymous reviewers.

Citation

Mori Junior, R., Franks, D.M. and Ali, S.H. (2016), "Sustainability certification schemes: evaluating their effectiveness and adaptability", Corporate Governance, Vol. 16 No. 3, pp. 579-592. https://doi.org/10.1108/CG-03-2016-0066

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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