Chapter 4: Drivers, tensions and trade-offs in achieving social and environmental upgrading in global value chains
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Identifying how to ensure sustainable environmental and social upgrading at supplier sites is a key issue for most corporations. This is particularly relevant, as most industries are now organized via global value chains (GVCs) - networks of interconnected and spatially dispersed actors coordinated by lead firms. Adopting a GVC framework, this chapter first argues that achieving environmental and social upgrading in GVCs is a major challenge. We demonstrate that social and environmental upgrading contain significant trade-offs, whereby strategies to achieve one might adversely impact the other. This leads us to a second key argument, that private governance alone is not enough to achieve sustainable social and environmental upgrading outcomes. We assert that synergistic governance is required, where private governance aligns with public and social governance. Yet this is no easy task, given inherent tensions and contradictory political, economic and social objectives held by different private, public and social actors within GVCs.

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