Standardizing sustainability: certification of Tanzanian biofuel smallholders in a global value chain

Romijn, Henny, Heijnen, Sanne and Arora, Saurabh (2013) Standardizing sustainability: certification of Tanzanian biofuel smallholders in a global value chain. In: Lindgreen, Adam, Maon, François, Vanhamme, Joëlle and Sen, Sankar (eds.) Sustainable value chain management: a research anthology. Ashgate, pp. 473-488. ISBN 9781409471349

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Standards and certifications, as ‘scientific’ instruments of governance, have recently emerged as ways to ensure environmental and ‘social’ sustainability of global value chains for renewable energy. Focussing on a chain for sourcing bio-kerosene, this chapter studies the practice of a pilot certification project aimed at thousands of Tanzanian smallholders who cultivate Jatropha oilseeds. We study the tense encounters between a ‘universal’ biofuel sustainability standard, designed in an ostensibly participatory process in the Netherlands, and the socio-ecological realities of the smallholders in Tanzania. In these implementation encounters, many provisions in the standard and certification protocols had to undergo modifications that were initially resisted by the standard’s designers. These modifications may have resulted in a standard that is more aligned with the local realities encountered in a particular region of Tanzania. But other frictions, similar and different from the ones discussed in this chapter, are bound to crop up as this ‘adjusted’ standard travels to newer localities. In concluding, we call for regional or niche standardization strategies, rejecting the idea of ‘universal’ globally-applicable standards. A niche standardization strategy is better poised for facilitating the smallholders to benefit from the sustainability of their existing practices, a sustainability they cannot afford to prove ‘scientifically’.

Item Type: Book Section
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
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Depositing User: Saurabh Arora
Date Deposited: 28 Oct 2014 10:40
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2014 10:40
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