MSI Integrity and Duke University report: The new regulators? Assessing the landscape of multi-stakeholder initiatives (2017)

FSC assessment, Russia © Vladislav Kheynonen for ASI

This 2017 report highlights key findings on transnational standard setting multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs), their presence in various industries, patterns in MSI institutional governance, and analysis of how these MSIs set and monitor compliance with their standards. Results are based on initial findings from the MSI Database, a searchable online resource cataloguing information about the scope, governance, and operations of MSIs.

  • 98% of the initiatives surveyed include both industry and civil society representatives in their primary decision-making bodies. 43% of initiatives include government representatives and only 14% include affected populations, despite, the report argues, the “involvement of affected populations as integral to an MSI’s legitimacy and the initiative’s potential to have a positive impact on local communities.”
  • Nearly all of the MSIs surveyed (91%) conduct evaluations of member compliance with initiative standards. Of the MSIs that conduct compliance evaluations, the vast majority (93%) require third-party audits or assessments.
  • 78% of the MSIs surveyed have the power to impose sanctions on companies or governments that do not comply with their standards, although 26% of these MSIs with sanctioning power do not conduct compliance evaluations and 66% do not publicly disclose the results of evaluations.
  • 40% of the MSIs surveyed have some form of external complaints mechanism

Another interesting finding is that “several initiatives appear to have interlinked decision-making bodies, including amongst initiatives that operate in different sectors. For example… the Alliance for Water Stewardship includes a board member from the Better Cotton Initiative Council. This interlinking has also manifested in implementation. For example, the Rainforest Alliance, in addition to governing its own standard, also provides certification for the Forest Stewardship Council and Global Sustainable Tourism Council… These findings suggest that MSIs are recognizing that they have valuable experiences to share.”

The report also find “nearly all of the MSIs in the database offer some form of assurance that their members are meeting initiative standards... These assurances are perhaps most explicit across initiatives with certification or labeling schemes… such as the Fairtrade Labelling Organization’s “FAIRTRADE” marks, the Alliance for Responsible Mining’s “Fairmined” label, and Forest Stewardship Council’s “checkmark-and-tree” logo figure.”

Read the full report below.

Posted on 07/08/2017

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