Three Dialogues between researchers and practitioners will be broadcasted live from Wageningen Dialogue Center "Omnia", as plenary activities of the online Cross-Sector Social Interactions Symposium. Each dialogue is a one-hour face-to-face conversation between 4 participants, mixed between research and practice, and facilitated by a moderator. The goal is exchanging insights and perspectives between people from different backgrounds on a societally relevant topic.

Due Diligence partnerships for global commodities

This has been prepared by Prof. Otto Hospes (WUR and IPB) and is a spin-off of his work for the NWO-funded research project Next Generation Governance Arrangements for Sustainable Global Value Chains and his KNAW-funded research project on Small Wins towards Transformational Change of the Palm Oil Sector.

Dieuwke Klaver (Wageningen Center for Development Innovation)


  • Nadia Bernaz (Wageningen University & Research)
  • Yixian Sun (University of Bath)
  • Katrien Termeer (Wageningen University & Research, and Social and Economic Council of The Netherlands)
  • Pantja Pramudya - Institute of Social and Economic Research/School of Business and Economics, Indonesia


The last 10-15 years have witnessed a proliferation of due diligence legislation adopted by EU member countries and agencies. Due diligence refers to the steps that a company must take to become aware of, prevent and address adverse impacts on the environment and in terms of human rights. Some examples of due diligence legislation are the EU Regulation on Illegal, Unreported and Undocumented Fishing (2008), French Duty of Vigilance Law (2017), Dutch Child Labor Due Diligence Law (2019), German Supply Chain Due Diligence Law (2021) and the upcoming EU Directive on corporate sustainability due diligence.
Corporate accountability is not seen as limited to the business itself or its home country. Due diligence legislation also hold business accountability for negative impacts caused abroad by their subsidiaries or suppliers. The unilateral development of due diligence legislation by EU member countries and agencies, that each is meant to have extra-territorial reach and effect, leads to all kinds of interesting questions for debate between scholars and practitioners from the North and the South, such as:
- What are the major legitimation strategies and assumptions underlying such legislation?
- How to understand the proliferation of due diligence legislation in Europe? Does the proliferation of the due diligence legislation mean that EU governments have concluded that voluntary or self-regulation is not the holy grail to end human rights violations and environmental damage caused abroad by subsidiaries or suppliers of EU based companies?
- How is (or will) due diligence legislation of EU member countries and agents (be) perceived and acted upon by stakeholders and governments in the South?
- Can one expect a “Brussels effect” (Anu Bradford) with non-EU countries following the example of EU countries and exporters to the EU progressively taking due diligence steps, or rather confusion, controversy and sector leakages, with suppliers from the South redirecting their trade and export from Europe to other destinations?
- What kind of due diligence partnerships have been used to develop due diligence legislation? Is there a need for (new?) due diligence partnerships between government officials, business and civil society organisations from the North and South? Is there a need for due diligence partnerships, including academic researchers? Why, why not?

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The role of partnerships in addressing SDG trade-offs and synergies in East-Africa.

The dialogue is organized by the NWO-funded project "Governing SDG Interactions in East-Africa" (www.wur.eu/sdgs), led by Prof. Art Dewulf.


Herman Brouwer (Wageningen Center for Development Innovation)


  • Reinier van Hoffen (Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
  • Joanes Atela (Africa Centre for Technology Studies, Nairobi, Kenya)
  • Nowella Anyango (Wageningen University and Research)
  • Bas van Vliet (Wageningen University and Research)


Numerous governments, businesses, and civil society organisations aim to contribute to achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in the global South. However, cherry-picking SDGs coupled with lack of alignment between initiatives means trade-offs are not addressed and opportunities for synergy are missed. Progress towards achieving the SDGs is hampered by international development projects duplicating efforts on the ground; lack of coherence between donor policies; misalignment between national policies and multilateral development programmes; and diverging private sector investments. Aligning SDG efforts by these public and private actors operating across levels has itself become a challenge that will determine whether SDGs will be met in 2030. For example, investments in rapid intensification in the Kenyan dairy sector (SDG2), with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions (SDG13), may lead to the unintended results of higher social stratification (SDG10) and/or gender inequality (SDG5). The numerous potential trade-offs and synergies between SDGs constitute considerable governance challenges that cut across sectors and levels. When trade-offs are not addressed, progress in one SDG comes at the expense of progress in another SDG. When synergies are ignored, valuable opportunities are lost and resources wasted. This undermines the effectiveness of the indivisible SDG agenda, which seeks to reach all the goals simultaneously. Furthermore, vulnerable and excluded groups, including women and youth, often end up on the losing side of trade-offs. They often carry an unequal burden of the negative side-effects of SDG interventions – and they tend to be forgotten when synergies are created.

The proposed topic for the dialogue is the role of partnerships as a governance mechanism for addressing SDG interactions, i.e. in avoiding trade-offs and building synergies between SDGs. By directly engaging actors from different sectors in a collaborative process, common goals can be identified, conflicts of interest can be handled and innovative solutions can be forged. But what is the added value of cross-sector partnerships as mechanisms of alignment? Can partnerships, which are demanding in terms of time and resource investment for all involved, expand their scope beyond just a couple of SDGs. Considering the variety of needs for alignment, do cross-sector partnerships need to be at the same time cross-level partnerships? And while finding synergies between SDGs, and therefore between actors' goals, is an attractive proposition for partnerships, can partnerships deal with trade-offs, where one actor's goal gets in the way of another actor's goal?

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Building resilience in Socio-Ecological Systems through connective strategies

This dialogue is organized by Mariette McCampbell and Cees Leeuwis from the INREF-funded project " The responsible life-sciences innovations for development in the digital age: Environmental Virtual Observatories for Connective Action" (EVOCA) programme, led by Prof. Cees Leeuwis.

Cees Leeuwis (Wageningen University and Research)


  • Shiferaw Tafesse (Global Green Growth Institute, Ethiopia)
  • Katarzyna Cieslik (Durham University, Department of Geography, UK)
  • Ton Duffhues (Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, Netherlands)
  • Janneke Blijdorp (Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, Netherlands)


Many of today’s pressing issues are embedded within socio-ecological systems (SES), i.e. systems in which both social and ecological sub-systems interact and mutually influence each other. The issues at hand, e.g. pests and diseases, global warming, can oftentimes be defined as public bad problems; problems that are non-excludible and non-rival, and that threaten livelihoods and resilience. Moreover, SES problems often involve many (cross-sectoral) interactions and interdependencies. In the prevention of a public bad, communication and information are pillars of good governance, and coordination and cooperation within socio-ecological systems are necessary.

Currently there is much optimism about new connective strategies, often mediated through digital technologies and services such as social media and citizen science platforms and tools to analyse and monitor the environment. Advocates of such connective strategies acclaim the opportunities for enhanced insights, transparency, (cross)-sector partnerships, and transformations that emerge and that may contribute to solving public bad problems. Analysis of six different EVOCA connective strategy interventions in Africa suggests that connective strategies may indeed affect communication about and coordination of public bad problems, but that connectivity alone cannot solve public bad problems. Connective strategies with a strong focus on tailoring and personalization of information may support individuals in a powerful way in the prevention stage of managing a public bad. However, that same focus on individualization may lead to poorer preparedness for collective action in phases of public bad management that require collaboration (e.g. mitigation, response, recovery).

The dialogue topic are the opportunities and challenges for the use of citizen science, social media platforms, and environmental monitoring as a means to foster connectivity and collective action. Engaging with diverse actors from science, policy, and practice, we aim to exchange experiences with collective action and connectivity interventions; discuss the importance of partnerships and collective action in public bad management, the role and impact of new forms of (digital) communication, and trade-offs and unintended consequences that come with these interventions; and identify which actions could be taken to improve the effectiveness of public bad management.

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