Sustainable sourcing of agricultural commodities, spill-over effects and global-local relations

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Deadline 04 January 2019

Project description

Sustainability standards for agricultural commodities are – among other things – aiming to ensure sustainable, transparent and traceable sourcing practices. Efforts to comply with EU standards (or presumed upcoming standards) are currently causing a cascade of direct and indirect land use changes in distant places with trade relations to the EU – e.g. in mainland Southeast Asia. This project will take point of departure in Thailand – one of the largest suppliers of poultry to the EU. In Thailand multinational agribusiness companies are currently shifting from mainly relying on nationally produced maize to imported maize from neighbouring countries, and on wheat from primarily Europe and Argentina in response to concerns about upcoming EU regulations on sustainable sourcing of feedstock for the poultry industry. This telecoupled food system is bringing about a series of feedbacks and spill-overs – e.g. in terms of changes in land use in Thailand and the neighbouring countries, where policies on sustainable land use are not as strict as in Thailand – and potentially in wheat producing areas overseas. Therefore, sustainable sourcing efforts may lead to the strengthening or even expansion of systems that are considered unsustainable. This project will use the telecoupling framework to explore the place-based outcomes of this complex network of different types of flows that is affected by the shift in sourcing practices. The research will apply field surveys, spatial analyses and supply chain analyses to capture the local as well as distant impacts, feedbacks and spill-overs.

The research will lead to

  • Creation of knowledge on how to analyze flows that link land systems across large distances
  • Development of new approaches that integrate place-based data-sets of a multidisciplinary nature with flow based analyses
  • Development of methodologies to attribute impacts to drivers in telecoupled land use systems

Principal Supervisor: Associate Prof. Thilde Bech Bruun, Section for Geography, Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, thbb@ign.ku.dk , Direct Phone: +45 3533 3412.

Co-supervisor is Prof. Peter Messerli, University of Bern, Switzerland.