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Monday, April 9 • 3:45pm - 4:00pm
SYMPOSIA-02: Local Adoption of Sustainability Governance in Telecoupled Systems: Certification in the Colombian Oil Palm Sector

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AUTHORS: Paul Furumo*, University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras; Ximena Rueda, Universidad de Los Andes

ABSTRACT: Socio-ecological outcomes of globalization are increasingly embedded in complex, distal flows of matter, technology, and information, often resulting in adverse effects. Nonetheless, while socio-ecological impacts are less tractable and extend beyond traditional boundaries of governance, new opportunities for sustainability are emerging in this telecoupled world. Voluntary certification schemes (VCS)—such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)—have emerged as market-based tools for conservation in commodity crop production. These new governance mechanisms are designed to enhance shared-value creation along the supply chain by involving more stakeholders. We observed adoption of RSPO certification in the Colombian oil palm sector to examine how VCS governance becomes implemented from consumers to producers, and particularly how these telecoupled forces respond under different local conditions. We explore RSPO adoption in the two primary oil palm production zones of Colombia, offering distinct ecosystems, markets, and infrastructure: 1) the northern Caribbean coast—international export market, high RSPO adoption, and 2) the eastern lowlands—national market, low RSPO adoption. We interviewed six certified and non-certified producers from each zone to understand barriers and motivations to certification. We supplement our field data with other stakeholder perspectives including the national growers association and commercial traders. We found that oil palm companies are expanding their business models through certification to include more stakeholders—reflected in triple bottom line value proposition (economic, social, and environmental). Certified companies exported more of their production than non-certified companies, and the primary motivation for certifying in the coast was gaining access to international markets (i.e. Europe). Isolation from points of export was the main barrier to certification in the landlocked eastern lowlands, coupled with strong domestic demand for palm oil as a feedstock in biodiesel production. Our analysis highlights that local conditions such as market access and economic geography can be strong predictors of sustainability adoption in telecoupled systems.

Monday April 9, 2018 3:45pm - 4:00pm CDT
LaSalle 5 (7th Floor)

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