Uncovering the social dynamics of environmental change across scales: The local, regional and global human networks influencing adoption of sustainable practices in food production systems

The production and trade of agricultural commodities are a key part of the global food supply and global economy, yet they are a key contributor to the rapid degradation of our most valuable ecological systems. About 80% of deforestation is linked to the expansion of agriculture to meet an increasing demand for food products worldwide. This is causing the rapid degradation of our most valuable ecosystems —and thus the economic and social value that we derive from them. Adoption of agricultural practices to reduce deforestation is necessary to ensure that ecosystems that deliver substantial economic and social benefits are preserved. However, while governance efforts to incentivise sustainable agricultural practices abound (e.g. voluntary sustainability standards), up-take is limited by lack of behavioural change. This project aims to theorize and measure the influence of global trade relationships, local social networks, and participation in regional governance processes, on decisions to adopt sustainable agricultural practices.

In collaboration with Angela Guerrero (PI) and Örjan Bodin, in this project we will use tools from network theory to measure how trade relationships can influence the adoption of envrionmental friendly behaviours. Our objectives are:

  1. Quantify the extent to which trade relationships in the global soy and beef supply chains influence companies’ sourcing behaviour linked to deforestation.

  2. Quantify how participation in collaborative governance initiatives influence companies’ commitments to reduce deforestation, and measure how the trade network moderates this effect.

  3. Quantify how farmers’ social networks influence their decisions to adopt environmentally sustainable practices, and measure how these networks moderate the influence of collaborative governance initiatives on practice adoption.

  4. Develop theoretical insights regarding the role of, and interplay between, local social networks, global trade networks, and participation in regional collaborative governance initiatives on the adoption of sustainable practices.

This project is supported by Formas.

Juan C. Rocha

Juan investigates critical transitions: from regime shifts in ecosystems to collective action in society.