Fairtrade: going beyond certificates

  • Globalization with its increasing emergence of global value chains is one of the main driving forces behind persisting unsustainable production and consumption patterns. The global coffee market provides a fitting example, as it is connected to many sustainability issues like the persisting poverty of coffee farmers, and degrading ecosystems. Many interventions, from state-led regulation to industry-led certification processes, exist, that try to change global value chains to shift societies back on more sustainable trajectories. However, due to the complexity and manifold connections between social and ecological factors, global value chains pose a wicked problem. To this date, it is still under debate if these interventions are an effective means to change global value chains. With climate change and persisting issues of social justice as strong accelerators, calls are increasingly made for a radical transformation of global production and consumption patterns. Many frameworks try to inform research and real-world policies for a transformation of global value chains. In this dissertation, I use the framework of the practical, political and personal sphere proposed by O’Brien and Sygna (2013). The authors highlight that the interactions between these three spheres bare the greatest potential for a transformation towards sustainability. However, in this dissertation, I argue that it is exactly at the nexus between the three spheres of transformation where barriers towards a fundamental shift of systems occur. I, therefore, use three perspectives to bring empirical nuance to the problems that arise on the interplay between the different spheres of transformation. These perspectives are: (1) the scientific perspective: using a systematic review of alternative trade arrangements; (2) the producer perspective: facilitating a participatory network analysis of social-ecological challenges of Ugandan coffee farmers and their adaptive management practices; (3) the consumer perspective: through the use of a German consumer survey and a structural equation model to investigate into the Knowledge-Doing-Gap end-consumers are facing. These three perspectives bring empirical nuance to the interplay between the different spheres as they highlight the real-world barriers that arise within and at the nexus of the three spheres. Through the results from the scientific perspective, I am able to show that most of the research is investigating the certified market and that the effectiveness of labels rarely exceeding the practical sphere. My empirical research on the producer perspective highlights that Ugandan coffee farmers facilitate a variety of on-farm crop management (practical sphere) but their support structures rarely exceed informal exchange with neighboring communities (political sphere). Exchange with governmental actors and global traders is happening but has been assessed as not sufficient to cope with the social-ecological challenges the producers are facing. Through the results of the consumer perspective, I am able to highlight that even though end-consumers have pro-sustainable attitudes (personal sphere) they are facing situational constraints (political sphere) that create a gap between their attitudes and the respective behavior. Using these empirical insights about drivers and barriers for a transformation I propose that frameworks, aiming to inform research and policies, need to include two aspects: (1) the notion of a forced transformation as one of the major influencing factors for a deliberative transformation; and (2) the translational capacity of the frameworks to create meaningful interdisciplinary discourses in different contexts. I, therefore, propose two approaches that should function as a starting point for further development of transformation frameworks (1) a fourth sphere, called the “planetary force” to include the notion of a forced transformation that is already happening in different contexts, highlighted by the producer perspective in this dissertation; and (2) the consequent use of methods that create interdisciplinary exchange and rigorous testing.

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Metadaten
Author:Julius Rathgens
URN:urn:nbn:de:gbv:luen4-opus4-12150
URL: https://pub-data.leuphana.de/frontdoor/index/index/docId/1215
Subtitle (English):Empirical nuance of drivers and barriers to transform the global coffee sector
Referee:Henrik von Wehrden (Prof. Dr.), Daniel Fischer (Prof. Dr.), Matthias Barth (Prof. Dr.)
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Language:English
Year of Completion:2022
Date of Publication (online):2022/04/01
Date of first Publication:2022/04/01
Publishing Institution:Leuphana Universität Lüneburg, Universitätsbibliothek der Leuphana Universität Lüneburg
Granting Institution:Leuphana Universität Lüneburg
Date of final exam:2021/11/30
Release Date:2022/04/04
Institutes:Nachhaltigkeit
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht