Markets working to support sustainable development

In the News: 9th May 2014

09 May 2014

Here you will find a round-up of all the recent news and events in mechanisms from around the world. 

Looking good

  • The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is rising in strength as the number of certified fisheries in the world has reached 221, while a further 108 are currently being assessed. Meanwhile, over 15,000 consumer products around the world are labelled with the MSC logo - a figure that is set to rise as more supermarkets commit to promoting the products, such as Sainsbury’s, Metro and Rewe.
  • U.S. appeals court rejects challenge to 2013 renewable fuel standard, which requires increasing amounts of biofuels, such as ethanol, to be blended into US gasoline and diesel supplies through 2022. To adhere to the standard, US refiners must accumulate credits known as Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) to prove that they have blended their share of renewable fuels into diesel and gasoline. And, if they do not blend, they must buy RINs.
  • To promote the sustainable conservation and use of genetic resources, Local Initiatives for Biodiversity Research and Development (LI-BIRD), a NGO in Nepal, has been promoting an approach called Community-based Biodiversity Management (CBM) in Nepal since the 1990s. As part of this, the CBM fund was created as a mechanism which is operated and managed by farmers to provide access to low-interest credit for resource poor farmers, enhancing livelihoods and regenerating the distribution of seeds of local varieties. 

Taro diversity block. Source: LIBIRD.

In the pipeline

  • The EU announced support for a green free trade agreement designed to accelerate the roll-out of clean technology. The agreement, which is being pushed by 14 WTO members, including the US, Japan and China, would see the liberalisation of trade in environmental goods and services, for example wind turbines.
  • Scientists have evaluated the possibility of establishing a new Norwegian sustainability certification scheme for fisheries. They found: “that alternative third-party certification is accepted by the market. We believe that the establishment of a Norwegian sustainability programme can give new opportunities. There may be, however, challenges associated with choosing not to use the MSC system,” says scientist Bjørg Nøstvold from Nofima.
  • It’s been over a year since the garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing over 1000 people. And, in the time since then, there have been rallying cries for better labour conditions - not only just in Bangladesh, but also in the rest of the world. So what is actually being done about it? The Fairtrade Foundation introduced a pilot scheme where they created certification scheme for clothing, leading the creation of a new standard: FairWear.
  • In a recent survey conducted by WWF, it was found that the sustainable soya industry still has a way to go by way of certification. And, while some retailers were praised for already buying over half their soya from certified responsible sources (with a goal to reach 100 per cent by 2015), others household names including Iceland and Nandos either failed to respond or were yet to take meaningful action to clean up their supply chains. Intiatives to encourage uptake of the certification are being considered. 


A Soya field. Source: FOE.

Still to do

  • The Africa Progress Panel released it’s 2014 Africa Progress Report this week. Here, they discovered that while GDP may be rising in parts of Africa, the human, social and environmental consequences of things like illegal fishing and logging are having devastating effects. In response, the report calls for international action that goes beyond voluntary codes of conduct - which are largely ignored - and to implement real incentives for best practice.
  • REDD is over 20 years old, but, as a two-day conference hosted by IIED found, there are still plenty of problems to fix: firstly, finance gaps need to be filled; secondly, there is a missing demand in the market for the carbon credits that these projects provide; thirdly, technology and capacity to monitor the projects must increase; and finally, risks must be safeguarded against. 
  • Many mechanisms - mostly certification schemes - rely on the idea that informed consumers will adapt their spending behaviour by choosing ethical products. But, this assumption is increasingly being challenged. “Influencing the way people behave is notoriously challenging,” says, Michael Kuhndt, Director of the Collaborating Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production. He also argues that that we need to consider multi-stakeholder engagement intiatives as well as other appropriate tools to truly impact on markets - in other words, more needs to be done to change spending behaviour.