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Role of Global Value Chains in Transitions to Sustainability

Speficially, the project will analyze how coffee production in East Africa, known to cause environmental degradation and maintain rural poverty, can become more sustainable under increasingly challenging conditions.

Roasted coffee bean

Photo: ©

About the project

Global Value Chains Tranisitons (GVC-Transitions) is a research project that will explore how changes in global value chains contribute to societal transitions to sustainability.

The project is co-designed in partnership with stakeholders from the speciality coffee industry who have identified the need to  change coffee production practices towards a process of improvement rather than exploitation.


The primary objective of GVC-Transitions is to understand the role of global value chains in a societal transition towards sustainability, with an emphasis on their potential to contribute to adaptation in land management among small-scale farmers to environmental and economic change.

The secondary objectives are:

  • To identify social and ecological impacts of speciality coffee production in land areas under pressure in East Africa.
  •  To provide solution oriented recommendations to stakeholders from the coffee industry on how coffee production in East Africa can be more sustainable and climate resilient.
  • To contribute to theory on more integrated understandings of environmental change as an inherent part of socio-ecological production processes.
  • To develop capacity of young scholars through PhD stipends, and to further enhance North-South partnerships.


Based on two ethnographic case studies from coffee production in Burundi and Ethiopia, the research will explore how complex socio-ecological processes are evolving in response to changing environmental and economic conditions.

Novel qualitative methods that allow for in-depth analysis of such complexity will be employed to evaluate and develop different strategies for societal transitions towards sustainability in natural resource based communities.

The research will be carried out as an academic North-South partnership between the University of Oslo, and Addis Ababa University.GVC-Transitions is built upon co-production of knowledge with relevant stakeholder such as coffee farmers, the private and public sector. These user groups will be included in the research throughout the project cycle, and will benefit from dissemination activities.


Dept. of Geography and Enivornmental Studies, Addis Ababa University

Funding scheme

The total grant award was for NOK 5 200 000.

Project period

2016 - 2020


Tags: Economic geography, Environmental studies, Political ecology, Development
Published Sep. 15, 2016 1:56 PM - Last modified Mar. 5, 2018 12:12 PM