Workshop: "Environmental and social upgrading in Global Value Chains: fostering the synergies, disclosing the trade-off"

Global Value Chains (GVCs) represent a key engine for economic upgrading across countries and industries, facilitating important learning and market access opportunities. Doubts arise, however, about the possibility of this fragmented mode of production to ensure social and environmental upgrading in different contexts, i.e. in the form of effective and long-lasting positive impacts on the territories that participate in GVCs, such as through improved social standards and reduction of emissions. The fragmentation of production activities at a global level might represent both an important lever to diffuse higher standards in countries characterized by institutional voids, but also a channel to perpetuate wrongdoing and move responsibilities to other upstream actors in the chain.  

The aim of the workshop is to collectively reflect on what conditions participation in GVCs can support environmental upgrading (or downgrading), and consider interconnections with economic and social dimensions. This includes analysis of the tensions and trade-offs that might arise across these three dimensions, taking into account the influence of private and public governance structures. Accordingly, the workshop is intended as an opportunity to bring together scholars working at the intersection of economic, social and environmental upgrading, present work in progress and discuss future research opportunities.

Watch the video interviews with the protagonists of the event Gary Gereffi, Valentina De Marchi, Matthew Alford and Stefano Ponte.



Day 1, May 16 

Opening panel

- Valentina De Marchi, Paola Valbonesi watch video
- Gary Gereffi watch video

Aarti Krishnan - Measuring Environmental upgrading and its outcomes in global and local value chains: the case of Kenyan horticulture - discussant: Matt Amengual watch video


Matthew Alford - Regional Value Chains and Governance of Decent Work in Sub-Saharan Africa – discussant: Eleonora Di Maria watch video

Marco Bettiol/ Stefano Ponte - Horizontal governance of environmental upgrading: lessons from the wine value chains of Prosecco and Valpolicella, Italy – discussant: Tommaso Ferretti watch video


Coffee break

Ulrich Hansen - Social, economic and environmental upgrading/downgrading in the value chains for renewable energy in Africa  - discussant: Joerg Hofstetter watch video

Closing brainstorming session (open to in-person only) 

Social dinner


Day 2, May 17

Roberta Rabellotti - Adoption of digital technologies for the greening of manufacturing Global Value Chains in developing countries - discussant: Aarti Khrishnan watch video

Simone Carmine - Sustainability Tensions and Power in Global Value Chains - discussant: Rory Horner watch video

Coffee break

Closing brainstorming session (open to in-person discussion only) 

Closing lunch and farewell