New Report: Smallholders – Costs and Challenges of Small-Farmer Certification

In June 2012, members of the United Nations reconfirmed the UN consensus on sustainable development which was adopted at the Rio Earth Summit 20 years ago.  It stipulates that action to ensure sustainability should go hand in hand with action to raise living standards.

A campaign to require smallholders to be certified as RSPO-compliant breaches that consensus.  It elevates environmental outcomes over economic outcomes, undermining national strategies to raise living standards.  It also requires producers to disregard national policies set by governments.

It is being run by large ENGOs, in particular WWF; and prominent food retailers who have a commercial stake in reducing the attractiveness of palm oil in food processing.  Continue reading

New report: Cutting Down the Poor

Executive Summary from the World Growth report ‘Cutting Down the Poor

The government of the United Kingdom and the European Union have introduced measures against illegal logging with their trading partners that are currently costing approximately €22.4 million annually. By the EU’s own estimates these measures are likely to be ineffective  Continue reading

Revising the Equator Principles: Why Banks should not become the New Sustainability Regulators of Emerging Markets

On 13 August 2012 a draft of the updated Equator Principles (EP) was released for stakeholder consultation and public comment. This latest revision of the EP is a marked attempt to dramatically alter the role of financial institutions in emerging markets, from financiers to sustainability regulators. Continue reading

Un-Fair Trade: Turning the tide on misguided altruism

Fairtrade (FT) represents itself as a consumer-driven long-term development strategy. It claims to support poor producers in the global south and aims to alleviate them from poverty by certifying their production processes and selling their products to consumers in the global north at a price premium. The FT movement has succeeded in convincing conscientious consumers that its labelled products are the most effective in aiding the poor. However, the extent to which the FT model brings net benefits to the poor is largely unfounded. Continue reading

New Report: Wronging Indonesia – The EU’s Bait and Switch Illegal Logging Policy

The EU is delaying implementation of a ‘Voluntary Partnership Agreement’ (VPA) with Indonesia on illegal timber exports. Indonesia has complied with EU demands at significant cost, but the delays mean Indonesia’s exporters will now have to comply with a different, more costly system of regulation. This report examines the implications.  Continue reading

New report: FSC’s Closed Shop – Shutting Down Forestry in The Developing World

Forest certification under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has been surrounded by controversy since its inception. Most of the controversy has been generated by activist organisations publicly attacking private sector forest operators that are implementing FSC certification. There are no other industrial standards or environmental management standards that are subject to as much controversy. Continue reading

The Development Tragedy – How Donor Aid Priorities and Land Use Policies Threaten Food Security

British Prime Minister David Cameron recently announced a Hunger Summit to coincide with the Olympic Games. The Summit was announced after the May G8 meeting where eight of the nations pledged to speed up progress on combating hunger and malnutrition and the recent announcement by United States President Barack Obama which launched the new alliance for food security and nutrition. Continue reading

Manufacturing Dissent: How the Green Movement is Distorting FPIC

Free Prior and Informed Consent’ (FPIC) has become a core element of environmental campaigning over the past few years. The FPIC narrative for environmental campaigners is simple: the private sector is engaging in projects that impact local communities; the way to address this supposed problem is to require FPIC for large-scale resource projects. The real problem, however, is that there is no practical definition for FPIC. Continue reading

Road to Rio II: Is WWF Delusional?

June 2012 – Green Papers: Issue XI

WWF, the world’s largest activist environmental organization will propose at the Rio+20 Conference that the world’s focus be lifted away from debt, joblessness and despair in much of Europe, intractable unemployment in the United States and the palpable opportunity which strong growth offers to reduce poverty in the BRIICS economies. WWF instead wants global attention refocussed on the task of building a global green economy.  According to WWF, the world is consuming one and half times the resources it should. It has produced new indexes to measure sustainability and rates of Continue reading