Jeffrey Minneti

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Over the last several decades, efforts to regulate the environment through traditional public law at national and international levels have stalled. In contrast, private environmental governance has flourished as nongovernmental entities have engaged in standard setting and assessment practices traditionally left to public government. Such entities include the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Rainforest Alliance, both of which are nongovernmental entities that prescribe environmental standards for producers, provide labels and logos for producers that choose to comply with the standards, and maintain compliance through independent audits. The schemes incentivize environmentally responsible products and production processes by linking producers who conform with the standards with consumers who will pay for the producers’ products. In previous scholarship, I have argued that the environmental claims producers make about their products should be regulated and that the regulation should conform to Relational Integrity Regulation principles, and I have recognized that many of the most effective regulators are non-state actors, such as FSC. This article focuses the discussion on environmental governance in the global South. It observes that while private governance of producers’ environmental product claims has grown tremendously in recent years, the vast majority of the governance originates in the global North and thrusts the global North’s economic and environmental agenda into the global South. Drawing upon recent empirical studies of the effectiveness of such governance, the article observes that the global North’s approach has not worked well — producers in the global South see little benefit from participating in the schemes, and the schemes have had little and in some cases adverse impacts on the global South environment. The article concedes that private or even a hybrid public-private governance of producers’ environmental marketing claims is no panacea to global environmental problems, but it argues that the global South is likely to benefit from such governance, if the schemes originate within the global South and are imbued with Relational Integrity Regulation principles.

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