Handbook on Global Value Chains
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Handbook on Global Value Chains

Edited by Stefano Ponte, Gary Gereffi and Gale Raj-Reichert

Global value chains (GVCs) are a key feature of the global economy in the 21st century. They show how international investment and trade create cross-border production networks that link countries, firms and workers around the globe. This Handbook describes how GVCs arise and vary across industries and countries, and how they have evolved over time in response to economic and political forces. With chapters written by leading interdisciplinary scholars, the Handbook unpacks the key concepts of GVC governance and upgrading, and explores policy implications for advanced and developing economies alike.
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Chapter 13: Sustainability, global value chains and green capital accumulation

Stefano Ponte


This chapter examines how sustainability challenges are reshaping the organizational dynamics of global value chains, leading to new spatial, organizational and technological ‘fixes’ to ensure continuous capital accumulation. Sustainability management (the set of strategies and practices that corporations put in place to address sustainability issues) is thus becoming a fourth driver of key value chain dynamics – in addition to minimizing cost/capability ratios, increasing flexibility and heightening speed. As value creation and capture possibilities are changing, sustainability management is offering new venues of ‘green capital accumulation’, including lead firms in GVCs extracting more demands from their suppliers in a ‘sustainability-driven supplier squeeze’. While sustainability management in GVCs is leading to some environmental benefits in some industries, overall pressure on global resources is increasing. Green capital accumulation and the unsustainable exploitation of nature continue to go hand in hand.

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