From checking boxes to actual improvement: A new take on sustainability certification
Vilde Steiro AmundsenForfatter
Sustainability certification has established itself as an important approach to ensure responsible production, allowing retailers and consumers to differentiate between products while also providing companies in controversial industries with a means to demonstrate accountability. Based on interviews, fieldwork, and document studies of private sustainability standards for the salmon aquaculture industry, this paper explores the implications of employing private, global regulatory instruments with standardized criteria to address such complex systems, and the potential for improved utilization of these instruments. The findings illustrate how a new conceptualization of certification, which moves away from a technocentric approach, is needed to ensure that the continuous development of these standards in fact constitutes improvement. What this calls for is abandoning the prevailing checkbox mentality, if certification is to remain such a dominating strategy to better aquaculture and other resource-intensive industries.