European Journal of Forest Research

, Volume 130, Issue 3, pp 407–419 | Cite as

Forest certification and democracy

  • Errol MeidingerEmail author
Original Paper


This paper explores the possibility that forest certification represents an important emerging form of transnational democracy. Because it is largely driven and administered by nonstate actors, forest certification can be seen as suffering a democracy deficit. However, because it stresses broad participation, intensive deliberative procedures, responsiveness to state law and widely accepted norms, and competition among regulatory programs to achieve effective implementation and widespread public acceptance, forest certification appears to stand up relatively well under generally understood criteria for democratic governance. Nonetheless, a more satisfactory evaluation will require a better understanding of how responsive certification programs are to diverse, emergent constituencies as well as which certification programs win regulatory competitions, and why.


Certification Corporate social responsibility Deliberative democracy Democratic experimentalism Democracy Forest certification Governance International trade New governance Participation Regulation Regulatory competition Sustainable forestry Transnational governance 



This article is published in honor of Professor Gerhard Oesten, who has steadfastly championed the view that economic institutions must be understood in terms of broader public values. The argument made here was developed in part during the author’s work over the past decade in Professor Oesten’s Institute for Forestry Economics at the University of Freiburg. A version of this article written primarily for legal scholars was published in the Chicago Journal of International Law under the title “Competitive Supragovernmental Regulation: How Could It Be Democratic,” 8(2):513–534 (2008). The author is grateful to the Chicago Journal of International Law for allowing the publication of substantial portions of that article for forestry scholars based in Europe. The author also gratefully acknowledges helpful comments by participants in workshops at SUNY Buffalo Law School and the University of Freiburg Institutes for Forestry Economics and of Forestry and Environmental Policy, and particularly by Dr. Georg Winkel of the latter Institute.

Conflict of interest declaration

The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of LawThe State University of New YorkBuffaloUSA
  2. 2.Faculty of Forestry and Environmental ScienceUniversity of FreiburgFreiburg im BreisgauGermany

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