Journal of Evolutionary Economics

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 623–647 | Cite as

Ecolabels, uncertified abatement, and the sustainability of natural resources: an evolutionary approach

  • Esther Blanco
  • Javier Lozano
Regular Article


This study presents an evolutionary model where firms decide their environmental strategy, which may include certification of voluntary abatement by joining an eco-label, in settings where conservation outcomes exert an influence on the price premia that certified and uncertified green firms receive. Findings support that either certified or uncertified voluntary abatement can be sustained in the long run as a result of market incentives, but not simultaneously. When certified abatement takes place in the long-run, it results in an improvement in the state of the natural capital as compared to situations where abatement is not certified. However, certification practices that are not attractive enough for companies to subsist in equilibrium can generate transitional dynamics eroding conservation outcomes. Moreover, given the endogenous nature of environmental conservation on firms’ abatement decisions, temporary policies increasing the state of the environment can change the long-term incentive structure of the system favoring certification of abatement. A context of applicability of the model is illustrated by tourism uses of natural resources.


Ecolabels Evolutionary games Sustainable management Voluntary abatement 

JEL classifications

M14 Q28 C73 



We received helpful comments from John Maxwell, Carmen Arguedas, participants in the Fourth World Congress of Environmental and Resource Economists. We thank three anonymous referees for their helpful comments and directions. Remaining errors are our own. We are also grateful for the financial support of the University of Innsbruck.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Public FinanceUniversity of InnsbruckInnsbruckAustria
  2. 2.The Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy AnalysisIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Applied EconomicsUniversity of the Balearic IslandsPalma de MallorcaSpain

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