2022 Volume 28 Pages 14-28
A fair, democratic standard development process is central to ensuring the credibility and legitimacy of forest certifications built on private governance. This study reports the implementation of the multi-stakeholder process for developing the FSC national forest stewardship standard of Japan and analyzes the factors affecting the discussion for collective decision making. In particular, this study highlights the issue of radiological safety and indigenous peoples' rights, on which the discussion for developing certification requirements especially contested due to considerable gaps between the international standards and the existing legal framework or practices in Japan. The overall discussion was characterized by the general conflict of opinions between certificate holders advocating for pragmatic requirements in line with existing practice and the civil society supporting robust standards. The factors that are considered to have affected the FSC national standard development in Japan include stakeholder relations, presence of competing scheme, governance structure, FSC's value proposition, and some personal leadership. Among them, the pre-set value proposition seems to be the most powerful factor that sets the priority in decision-making and determines the outcome. For this multi-stakeholder process, revisiting the shared value of FSC resulted in setting a priority on the certification's credibility over market uptake and many certification requirements at the level of international standards. In the future, comparison with other multi-stakeholder processes conducted in different contexts will further reveal factors affecting the deliberative and decision-making process and outcome.