The new role of private actors in environmental governance: an analysis in the field of sustainable agriculture

PhD researcher: Greetje Schouten MSc. defended her thesis on November 4th 2013

book cover of Greetje's thesis This research project analyzed private rule-systems in agricultural commodity chains aimed at sustainable development; specifically roundtables. Roundtables are multi-stakeholder platforms, usually within one product group, that attempt to govern the related global commodity chain. At the roundtable actors throughout the chain (producers, manufacturers, retailers, etc.) and NGOs/civil society organizations are represented. Governmental agencies and scientists are included as observing members. The involvement of private actors in governance arrangements raises serious questions concerning legitimacy. This research aims to contribute to the understanding of legitimacy in private rule-systems in global commodity chains and seeks to analyze the transformative role of private governance arrangements in global governance related to sustainable agriculture. In order to realize the above stated objectives the following question will serve as central research question: In what way and to what extent do private rule-systems (roundtables) create more sustainable agricultural commodity chains, and what are the implications of these rule-systems for the roles of governments in global policy and politics?