Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 31, Issue 3, pp 425–437 | Cite as

Marking the success or end of global multi-stakeholder governance? The rise of national sustainability standards in Indonesia and Brazil for palm oil and soy

  • Otto Hospes


The RSPO and RTRS are global private partnerships that have been set up by business and civil society actors from the North to curb de-forestation and to promote sustainable production of palm oil or soy in the South. This article is about the launch of new national standards in Indonesia and Brazil that are look-alikes of the global standards but have been set up and supported by government or business actors from the South. The two main questions of this article are: do the new national standards in Indonesia and Brazil provide a fundamental challenge to the RSPO and RTRS, or do they demonstrate the successful diffusion and adoption of global private rules into national contexts? Do the new national standards help or undermine the RSPO and RTRS in their efforts to reduce de-forestation? Combining the theoretical notions of proto-institution and rival governance network, a comparative analysis is offered of the launch of the new national standards in Indonesia and Brazil. The conclusion is that, whilst the RSPO and RTRS have served as models for the general design and principles of the national standards, they really differ from the global standards in terms of normative contents: the national standards offer more room to palm oil plantations and large-scale soy producers to expand production at the expense of forests and other high conservation areas. Governments and producer associations in Indonesia and Brazil have not launched national standards to implement the RSPO or RTRS but to challenge these interventions from the North.


Global private partnership RSPO RTRS National standards Proto-institution Rival governance network 



Free prior and informed consent


Gabungan Pengusaha Kelapa Sawit Indonesia (Association of Indonesian palm oil plantation companies)


Greenhouse gas


Indonesian palm oil commission


Indonesian sustainable palm oil


Non-governmental organization


Roundtable on sustainable palm oil


Roundtable on responsible soy


World wildlife fund


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Public Administration and Policy Group, Department of Social SciencesWageningen UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands

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