Current research projects

The Paradoxes of Climate-Smart Coffee (PACSMAC)


PACSMAC analyzes the prospects for climate-smart coffee using a multidisciplinary approach, helping address sustainable development and climate change. Facing increasing temperatures, precipitation changes and new disease and pest threats, coffee farmers are testing new planting techniques and genetic varietals, activities that are attracting interest from other actors in the coffee value chain (VC). PACSMAC studies how Global Value Chain (GVC) structures affect opportunities for and benefits from climate adaptation and mitigation in the coffee sector in Ethiopia and Tanzania, addressing three questions:


1. How might climate change itself, alongside the mitigation and adaptation efforts intended to address it, affect the governance of coffee VCs originating in Ethiopia and Tanzania?
2. How do these changes affect the distribution of value along the chain, upgrading opportunities and farmer livelihoods?
3. How might these changes reshape the geography of coffee production and forest cover?

Co-Investigator, FFU research and capacity building programme (Denmark) (2021-2025)

Power and Inequality in Global Production Systems (PIPS)

Global inequalities are growing and have become widely recognized as major challenges. A main driver of inequality has been the globalization of production which yielded new winners and losers within and across nations. Massive participation of global South actors in value chains and production networks has not led to a significant increase in value-added within these countries, despite expectations of the contrary. As inequality in the distribution of value added between actors in the global South and in the global North persists, new efforts have been directed in understanding how to reduce these inequalities. PIPS contributes new knowledge on about how value chain actors exercise power and what kinds and combinations of power they yield. PIPS applies and further develops a new theory of power in global value chains to address these limitations. Empirically, it analyzes two global value chains within the agro-food sector: table grapes and wine in Chile and South Africa. These two countries have similar production conditions but divergent outcomes.

Principal investigator, funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark

Green Grapes
Waste Management

​The project aims to go beyond the traditionally investigated economic benefits of global supply chains, and explore the rather less well understood - but growing - environmental and social costs. It is based on a global, collaborative partnership between journalists and governance scholars, and holds potential for unique knowledge translation and mobilization. Hidden Costs has signed partnership agreements with The New York Times, PBS FRONTLINE, Toronto Star, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, NBC News, and Smithsonian Channel. These partners will provide additional funding and support for reporting projects, and will distribute the content, which will include documentaries, newspaper series and digital projects. The project will culminate in a traveling exhibit staged in two shipping containers – built in collaboration with the National Film Board of Canada – which will travel around North America to key hubs of global commerce. (Global Reporting Centre)

The UBC Centre for Transportation Studies together with 16 university partners and 16 non-academic industry and government partners lead an international maritime research network on governing environmental improvements in the maritime supply chain. The project is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and includes economists, business management scholars and political scientists. While there is well-developed technical literature on ship design and the economics of efficient operation, sea transport is relatively under-­‐investigated in the business management, political economy and global governance literatures. There is consequently a major gap when it comes to understanding the implications of the accelerating "green shipping" trend, which calls for greater environmental accountability and reduction of the air, land and water impacts of the sector along the maritime supply chain. The Green Shipping research network aims to address this knowledge gap. The overall goal is to advance knowledge and understanding towards the progressive governance of sustainable maritime transport.

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Image by Andy Li

​New and more complex partnerships are emerging to address the sustainability of natural resource use in developing countries. These partnerships link donors, governments, community-based organizations, NGOs, business, certification agencies and other intermediaries. Yet, we still do not know whether more complexity, including more sophisticated organizational structures and inclusive processes, has delivered better sustainability outcomes, and if so, in what sectors and under which circumstances. To fill this knowledge gap and build capacity in this area, NEPSUS assembles a multidisciplinary team to analyze partnerships with kinds and degrees of complexity through structured comparisons in three key natural resource sectors in Tanzania: wildlife, coastal resources and forestry. Tanzania provides an ideal case for researching the impact of new partnerships on sustainability outcomes because policy and program implementation in these three sectors are heavily dependent on their success.

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This project explores change in a large number of Tanzanian villages using a longitudinal approach. We re-visit places that were surveyed in the 1990s (mostly) returning to the same families, generally with the original researchers. We focus particularly on change in assets, which matter a great deal to local definitions of wealth and poverty.

The project is lead by Dan Brockington and involves a large number of co-investigators. Altogether we have re-visited 37 villages from 12 villages. Progress on that work is reported in the blog. We will also be updating the published papers as these appear. This work has been funded by the ESRC/DfID growth research programme: ES/L012413/2


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