Discourse on global value chains has focussed on governance and opportunities for technological or functional upgrading of firms in developing countries. This panel will however focus on development issues by examining the impact of value chain activities on poverty, gender and environment.
Traditionally, literature on Global Value Chains (GVCs) has been inundated by the opportunities that SMEs have when they participate in the global economy. However, in developing countries where firms are largely informal, they find it more difficult to enter GVCs, unless they are part of a well-established and integrated industrial cluster. This is important in developing country context because SMEs dominate the economic landscape with wide implications for income, employment, export and livelihoods of millions of people. In order to open up development, narrative on GVCs should shift to development concerns with particular attention to the impact of value chain activities on poverty, inequality, gender and the environment rather than the narrow focus on value chain governance and the opportunities for technological or functional upgrading of traders and producers. This panel will seek empirical and theoretical papers that will focus on inclusion and exclusion requirements and terms and preconditions under which small firms and individual participate in the value chain. Specific attention will focus on studies that address gender issues both in relation to the upgrading process itself and the implications on poverty. Other areas will include labour issues such as terms under which workers participate in the value chain, income and personal health. Furthermore, studies with emphasis on the impact that production or processing in value chain activities has on the resource base and its surroundings will also be considered. In all, case studies on different global value chains which have implications for inclusive development will be encouraged.