Biodiversity outcomes associated with sustainability certifications: Contextualising understanding and expectations, and allowing for ambitious intentions
Book chapter, 2019
Evaluating biodiversity outcomes associated with sustainability certification is a relatively new area for research and practice. They interlink with many other environmental outcomes, and are not isolated from societal or economic pillars of sustainability. Assessments that consider all pillars of sustainability may be considered most effective or comprehensive. However, improving specific understanding of biodiversity or any other more specific outcome within one of the three pillars will eventually contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of sustainability outcomes. How one may influence another within varying situations can eventually contextualise expectations and allow for realistic yet ambitious intentions. This chapter considers how biodiversity intentions and outcomes associated with sustainability certifications are evaluated, and how they are understood as positive. Intentions through standard criteria, and outcomes associated with implementation of standards provide two foundational categories. The influence on biodiversity of subsequent trade practices in processing, transport and preparation for consumption are recognised but not considered in this chapter. Three contextual variables which may influence the ambition of biodiversity intentions and contribute to expectations and evaluations, and some specific examples are provided. Standard criteria for several sustainability certifications assessed against a biodiversity benchmark standard and for the mining industry are explained. Suggestions for improvement in quantification of certificate and standard reach by bioregion are discussed as well as strengths, limitations and areas of improvement for existing evaluations. A selection of existing examples of advanced evaluations is considered. Finally, standard criteria inclusion or certifying farm and landscape heterogeneity is suggested to improve biodiversity outcomes. Future work and research seeking to improve intentions and evaluations of biodiversity outcomes associated with sustainability certifications can use this information.