Joint knowledge production in certifying partnerships

Dr. Astrid Offermans

Paper 1: Boundary work in partnerships

Sustainability partnerships have the potential to function as boundary organizations that intertwine stakeholders from different domains of society to jointly produce knowledge linked to action. However, little is known about the practice of knowledge production in such arrangements. In this paper Astrid developed an analytical framework, based on attributes of the nature of knowledge, the process of knowledge production, and the organization of that process, to analyze the extent to which knowledge processes in partnerships can be understood as joint knowledge production (JKP). Astrid Offermans

The application of the framework to the exemplary case of the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) shows that science and scientific knowledge do not necessarily play a dominant role in such a boundary organization. The analysis also shows that an abstract concept like JKP can be operationalized and used to assess characteristic of knowledge production in partnerships. This may provide leverage points to the actors involved to improve their boundary work. The framework can also be used as a dialogue instrument to open-up discussions about, and to reflect upon JKP in boundary organizations.

Offermans, A. & Glasbergen, P. (2015) Boundary work in sustainability partnerships: an exploration of the round table on sustainable palm oil. Environmental Science and Policy. 50:  34-45 DOI: 10.1016/j.envsci.2015.01.016

Essay: Certification: Curse or Blessing?

Sustainability certification is big business for cash crops around the world. When it comes to coffee, for example, Indonesia exports around 47,000 tonnes of certified coffee annually with an estimated value of US$91,000,000. Depending on the scheme, certification promises premium prices, training, investments in infrastructure or agricultural equipment, with the idea to improve the livelihoods of smallholders. But the benefits to Indonesia’s farmers appear marginal.

In 2015, a four-day Global Certifying Partnerships workshop, funded by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and DIKTI (Indonesia’s Directorate General of Higher Education), brought together a number of Indonesian and Dutch experts on the matter. Participants shared insightful and interesting ideas about the pitfalls and successes of private and public certification and agreed that more needs to be done to improve the certification process and ensure farmers reap the rewards. Read more in Inside Indonesia or read more in the UNCAPSA’s newsletter Palawija Forum, Vol. 33, No. 2, Aug 2016

Paper 2: hebben Indonesische boeren profijt van koffie- en palmoliecertificering? (In Dutch)

Als consument worden we steeds vaker verleid om gecertificeerde, duurzame producten te kopen. De hogere aanschafprijs wordt meestal gerechtvaardigd door te wijzen op allerlei voordelen voor de kleine boeren in ontwikkelingslanden. Door iets meer te betalen, zou je als consument bijdragen aan betere leefomstandigheden, een schoner milieu en een rijkere natuur ter plaatse. Onderzoek onder Indonesische boeren wijst echter uit dat het hogere bedrag dat zij ontvangen gering is. Bovendien is dit vooral te wijten aan de betere kwaliteit van de koffiebonen en niet zozeer aan het certificaat. Daar komt bij dat niet zozeer de boeren maar vooral de koffiebranders profiteren van het prijsverschil. Wel zijn er voordelen op het sociale vlak en voor het milieu van de certificering.

Offermans, A. and Cörvers, R. (2014) Hebben Indonesische boeren profijt van koffie- en palmoliecertificering? Milieu. 8: 42-44