William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review


Over the last several decades, efforts to regulate the environment through traditional public law at national and international levels have stalled. In contrast, private environmental governance has flourished as nongovernmental entities have engaged in standard setting and assessment practices traditionally left to public government. This Article observes that while private governance of producers’ environmental product claims has grown tremendously in recent years, the vast majority of the governance originates in the global North and thrusts the global North’s economic and environmental agenda into the global South. In light of recent empirical studies of the effectiveness of such governance, the Article observes that the global North’s approach has not worked well—producers in the global South see little benefit from participating in the schemes, and the schemes have had little and in some cases adverse impacts on the global South environment. The Article concedes that private or even a hybrid public-private governance of producers’ environmental marketing claims is no panacea to global environmental problems, but it argues that the global South is likely to benefit from such governance, if the schemes originate within the global South and are imbued with Relational Integrity Regulation principles.