Forest sustainability certification is emblematic of governance mechanisms associated with neoliberal state reforms. Despite being conceived as a means of compensating for the unwillingness or inability of states to regulate forest practices, in practice, forest certification has come to entail complex and hybrid relationships between private-sector, civil society, and government actors. Indeed, states have increasingly embraced certification as a means of complementing or even supplanting traditional forms of governmental regulation of the forest sector. Yet processes of neoliberalization imply both an expansion of opportunities for hybrid governance and a weakening of the state capacity that is often needed for successful implementation of certification initiatives. We analyze the complex relationships between neoliberalization, state capacity, and certification through two contrasting cases in Wisconsin, United States, and Entre Ríos, Argentina. Our findings illustrate the tensions within broadly neoliberal and postneoliberal regimes and highlight the persistence of long-standing patterns of state-led environmental governance.

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