Traditional state-centred governance systems have failed to effectively tackle the transnational problem of sustainability of global value chains (GVCs). To fill this ‘institutional void’, industry and NGOs established a series of global partnerships that designed standards and certification schemes for global commodities. Despite their relative success, these partnerships face some serious challenges, which if not adequately addressed threaten their overall legitimacy and effectiveness: 1) losing credibility due to unproven performance; 2) the necessity to improve transparency and traceability of products; and 3) lack of synergy with public sustainability policies.
The research contributes to a better understanding of what we term ‘next generation’ governance arrangements for sustainable GVCs by analysing to what extent and under what conditions governance arrangements in GVCs can successfully address the challenges of performance, transparency and public-private synergies; and by assessing how these insights can contribute to the design of smarter governance arrangements. In doing so, the research systematically compares three GVCs : timber, seafood and palm oil. By capitalizing on the knowledge and expertise of the twelve consortium partners, the research not only contributes to theories of smart forms of hybrid governance in volatile transnational contexts, but also offers crucial guidance to enhance the effectiveness and legitimacy of the governance of sustainable GVCs.
This research program links up with Smart Governance research agenda of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO).
The research is a collaborative effort by the researcher team, consortium partners and a stakeholder platform. Dissemination and valorisation of knowledge are integral and central activities within the program. These are for example organized at the level of the consortium. The partnership with partners in the consortium provides mutual gains. The consortium meets twice a year to provide feedback, strengthen the work of the researchers, and discuss the fit between their practical questions and the research. Of course, there is ample room for informal meetings and exchange ensuring a high level of cohesion and commitment, which also support the production of useful deliverables.
Another way to enhance knowledge utilization and mutial learning is by inviting stakeholders to participate in workshops, held every year during the lifespan of the program. The topics of these workshops are linked to the three projects, and the final event will be a design workshop.
1. The first workshop was held on November 19, 2015. The event took place in Bonn, and was hosted by one of the consortium partners, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The title of this workshop was "Dealing with demands for proof of impact", linked to the post-doc project Assessing Capacities and Performances in Sustainable Global Value Chains (carried out by Hilde Toonen).
More information about this workshop, dubbed the "Bonn-workshop", can be found here.
2. The second workshop is scheduled for Autumn 2016, aimed to validate and deepen insights in the theme Transparency and Traceability, and relates to the PhD project conducted by Margreet Brinxma.
3. The third workshop will take place in 2017, aimed to validate and deepen insights in the theme Public - Private Synergies and is connected to the project of PhD researcher Jonna Gjaltema.
4. The final workshop is a collaborative workshop aimed at generating design principles for next generation governance arrangements.