Paper short abstract:
Certified ethical and sustainability standards have a low profile within the cut-flower sector in spite of the many socio-environmental problems embedded within the industry. A range of opportunities and challenges must be confronted if progressive governance systems are to evolve in the future.
Paper long abstract:
There have been a number of academic outputs and activist reports which have highlighted problematic working conditions, social challenges and environmental degradation linked to cut-flower production. Global cut-flower value chains which target northern European supermarkets are unusual in that there is comparatively little application of standards and certifications compared to other fresh product value chains, which almost routinely require standards such as GlobalGap and often an ethical certification. However, there is some evidence that stakeholders within cut-flower value chains are beginning to recognise the need to apply a range of sustainability standards. Identifying effective institutional governance arrangements through which to drive these standards is a significant challenge but is clearly of critical importance if the global cut-flower industry's practices are to become more closely aligned with the ideals of a socially just circular economy and if risks from climate change are to be mitigated.
Drawing upon multi-locale research into cut-flower supply chains, with a specific focus upon South African cut-flowers, the paper will (i) demonstrate the spaces within which different forms of governance and regulation operate within the cut-flower sector; (ii) critically evaluate the nature of the gaps that exist in relation to ethical and environmental sustainability measures; (iii) examine who benefits most from the ethical-sustainability standards that are applied; and (iv) outline the implications of rising South-South trade. The paper will conclude by reflecting upon the implications for moving 'beyond audit' within supply chain governance and the contributions such moves can make towards the implementation of truly sustainable practices.
Production networks, value chains and shifting end markets: implications for sustainability