Complementary Hybridity in the governance of Global Value Chains (Ellen Brauers)

This research project focuses on innovative governance arrangements in which public, state actors and private certifiEllencation initiatives work together to govern the negative externalities of the Global Value Chains of timber, seafood and palm oil.

The research revolves around the governance of the negative externalities produced by the global value chains (GVC’s) around timber, seafood and palm oil. The production of these commodities is resulting in severe negative environmental and social consequences around the world. The lack of action by state actors to govern these consequences effectively has resulted in the  emergence of private certification initiatives such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). These initiatives are taking action to increase sustainability in these GVC’s, and signal this sustainability in the market place by providing the products with labels.

Certifying products based on their sustainable performance has become an influential governance practice during the last decades and has been successful in developing innovative, global methods and practices for increased social and environmental sustainability in GVC’s. However, private certification initiatives meet limitations in terms of scale, impact, voluntary character and market uptake. The involvement of public, state authorities in the governance networks around GVC’s can significantly contribute to the impact and scope of certification and provides opportunities to achieve sustainability on a wider scale.

In this research project we work in a interesting research consortium with organizations from the field, such as the RSPO, FSC, MSC, Oxfam Novib, Planbureau voor de Leefomgeving (PBL) and many others.