Public - private synergies in sustainable governance of global value chains

Whereas global private actors mainly focus on governance of global value chains, national public authorities increasingly depart from area-based (or landscape-based) policies, such as regional water management or national nature reserves. Although addressing similar issues, these separated yet parallel developments call for an in-depth reflection on possible synergies between public and private arrangements.This project examines the potential for developing synergies between public and private governance and develops innovative governance arrangements with public authorities in both producing/exporting and importing countries.

This research is one of three projects related to the Wageningen University research program Next Generation Governance Arrangements for Sustainable Global Value Chains.

Project summary

The mass production of commodities such as palm oil, fish and timber often creates negative environmental and social externalities such as land degradation, fish stock depletion, GHG emissions, biodiversity loss, or forced labour. In the 1990s, due to a lack of government regulation to halt these negative effects, private certification initiatives were developed by actors like NGOs and companies. Today, twenty years later, these non-state market driven (NSMD) arrangements are omnipresent in almost all commodity value chains [1]. Although these initiatives have led to positive results, major challenges still exist.

One challenge is the cooperation and interaction between public and private actors. NSMD arrangements do not operate in a vacuum but are institutions in broader networks. This research project will look into the interaction between public actors and private NSMD initiatives and how this affects the effectivity and legitimacy of the governance of sustainable supply chains. Analysing how public and private actors and activities relate to each other is possible at different levels – from the local to the global. Together with a comparative geographical perspective this will lead to valuable insights for future governance of these supply chains.

[1] References:

Cashore, B. (2002). Legitimacy and the privatization of environmental governance: how non-state market-driven (NSMD) governance systems gain rule-making authority. Governance 15(4): 503-529.

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