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The diamond trade hasn’t exactly enjoyed a great reputation over the past years. Not least thanks to Hollywood movies like Blood Diamond, these gems are inextricably percieved as covered with the blood spilt in civil wars all over Africa.

But diamonds are also a key export of many poor African nations.

Despite some initial progress being achieved by the Kimberly Process certification scheme, diamonds’ persisting bloody reputation isn’t exactly undeserved. Many still find their way into the world market, dominated by De Beers, from appalling sources.

Groups like Amnesty International and One Sky have criticised the certification scheme as lacking impartial, obligatory monitoring. Global Witness, an NGO specialising on the link between natural resource exploitation and violence reported the scheme to be failing to address issues of non-compliance, smuggling, money laundering and human rights: “The clock is running out on Kimberley Process credibility.”

Other problems include that diamonds from conflict-ridden Zimbabwe are still considered legitimate under the Kimberly Process; and the mind boggles as to what real effects membership of countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo may have on the ground. Several civil wars currently rage within the Congo’s boundaries.

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Sounds ridiculous? Yet, it is becoming possible. The Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes (PEFC) announced last week that the Italian brewery Gino Perisutti now offers two types of beer that carry a PEFC logo. PEFC offers certification services to forest operations practicing responsible forest management in accordance with the PEFC principles and criteria of good forest management, as well as to producers using certified material in their final products. Its logo enables buyers and consumers to identify products coming from well-managed forests.

The two types of beer are brewed on the ingredients coming from PEFC-certified forests: spruce bark, mountain pine buds and Scotch pine needles from PEFC-certified forests in north-eastern Italy. In addition to the PEFC-certified ingredients and classical beer components, Gino Perisutti’s beer also contains fair-trade species.

Although it may sound funny, such events may be interpreted as evidence of the increasing scope of forest certification as a form of governance and of the growing market visibility of products that have been certified as meeting the standards of responsible management of natural resources. In turn, the growing visibility helps consumers identify and recognize more responsibly produced products and purchase them and thereby support systems of governance aiming at promoting the sustainable use of nature. No doubt, as consumers, stakeholders and researchers we should also be aware of what is behind the logo but even the very fact that such logos are becoming increasingly important in the market can become one of the crucial drops in the ocean of local and global politics of nature.

(olga)

The Book

Governance across borders: transnational fields and transversal themes. Leonhard Dobusch, Philip Mader and Sigrid Quack (eds.), 2013, epubli publishers.
June 2019
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