Stephen Medlock

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Publication Date

Spring 2007


While biomass has the potential to be a sustainable, renewable, and economic source of energy, it has drawbacks that must be managed. For example, biomass production could compete with food production. Cultivation of cash crops to produce biomass energy could also lead to deforestation or the take-over of traditionally indigenous lands by multinational corporations. Furthermore, the trade in biomass fuels crosses state boundaries and is largely the purview of multinational corporations. Hence, states are unable to effectively regulate this trade. Civil society actors, such as international regulatory organizations, have attempted to fill this governance gap by providing incentives for multinational corporations to adopt policies that reduce the potential negative impacts of biomass cultivation. Forest certification was one of the first incentive structures devised. Forest certification is the process by which an independent third-party assesses the management of biomass cultivation by a firm in relation to standards set by a regulatory organization.