The role of technology as the basis for transparency is especially important to voluntary certification initiatives. In order to keep improving the transparency and traceability of global value chains, it is crucial for the stakeholders to develop and innovate technologies in use. However while technology is associated with neutral solutions, stakeholders operating in competitive markets face difficult strategic choices when confronted with demands and opportunities to innovate:
- ICT development ‘by whom and for whom’
- Data ownership
- Marketization of Data
- Administrative burdens
- Information feedback loops
- Confidentiality vs public data
In this project, we critically assess the notion that ICT is but a neutral means to strive for sustainability. It is build on the idea that traceability, transparency and sustainability are tightly connected. The premise is that traceability offers transparency, and transparency contributes to sustainability, but this relation is neither simple nor straightforward. The inherent strategic and normative character of ICT development often remain implicit, or is hidden "behind the screen".
The first phase of this project was carried out by Margreet Brinxma in collaboration with Esther Turnhout and Simon Bush. The research is now conducted in three related sub-projects focussing on the three commodities which are at the center of our program.
Martin Skrydstrup and Esther Turnhout are leading a study on palmoil traceability and the role of ICT developments in fostering both sustainability and transparency in the palm oil value chain.
Simon Bush, together with Sanneke Kloppenburg and Hilde Toonen, look into seafood traceability and how informational processes and technologies affect the governance of social and environmental issues in fisheries.
Bas Arts and Esther Turnhout, supported by a student team, investigate timber legality, with regional focus on Ghana.
October 6, 2017: Workshop "Behind the screen", aimed to discover if and how traceability contributes to transparency and sustainability, and if and how a potential contribution of traceability to transparency and sustainability can be strengthened. See