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Sustainability Risks in Global Production, Distribution, and Consumption


Annual Conference of the Royal Geographical Society, 1-4 September 2020


Session Organisers:       

Nora Lanari, lanarin@coventry.ac.uk

David Bek, david.bek@coventry.ac.uk

Jill Timms, jill.timms@coventry.ac.uk


Session sponsored by the Economic Geography Research Group


The latter Twentieth Century witnessed the emergence of flexible and spatially dispersed modes of economic production driven largely by lead firms based in the Global North. These global value chains represent significant shifts in patterns of production, distribution and consumption across the world. Such value chains have proven to be economically efficient but concerns have arisen related to a panoply of sustainability risks which are being identified at different nodes within value chains. Such political, social and ecological risks collectively threaten the economic sustainability of individual value chains and, in some cases, the ability to maintain product supply in the medium to long term. These dynamics can be summarised as sustainability risks that affect actors not only directly within global supply and value chains but also on their periphery when the presence of value chains impacts upon wider communities, economic and ecological systems.


The governance of these global value chains has been the subject of considerable academic research (Ponte 2019). Parallel to the roll-back of traditional structures of state support and regulation, new forms of governance have been rolled-out through audit-based private standards for quality assurance and sustainability criteria. The 1990s and 2000s saw the rise of social standards, typically labelled as ethical trade initiatives, which sought to tackle inequalities experienced by workers and small-scale producers. In the last decade, more environmentally focused standards have come to the fore. Collectively, therefore, there is increasing attention being paid to the broad-based sustainability risks inherent in the daily operations of global value chains.  Understanding the nature of these risks and the drivers of private, NGO and public responses are critical concerns for scholars within the realms of global value chain research.


We are seeking contributions that engage in a variety of ways with the notion of sustainability risk in global production, distribution, and consumption, including but not limited to the following:



Please email a 250-word abstract to Nora Lanari (lanarin@coventry.ac.uk) by 5 February 2020. This should include a title, your name, and full affiliation. We envisage a traditional paper session and please feel free to get in touch if you have any further questions.




Nora Lanari, BSc, MSc, PhD
Centre for Business in Society | Coventry University
Skype: live:lanarinora | Email: lanarin@coventry.ac.uk | Twitter: @NoraLanari
Website: www.coventry.ac.uk/cbis


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