Economics serving society

Development, Globalization

It is the productive models that must be deeply modified on a planetary scale through the reorganization of international value chains. International treaties on trade and environmental rules must allow cooperation between countries, where there are temptations of competition and opportunistic behavior. All of these issues are equally urgent for all countries, but in ways that are certainly different for emerging countries, especially developing countries, whose specificities must be taken into account to avoid doubling the environmental crisis with a development crisis.

Environmental negotiations to preserve the global commons such as climate inevitably give rise to free rider phenomena. If a sufficient share of countries reduce their CO2 emissions sufficiently, global warming is significantly reduced, and all countries, whether they have reduced their emissions or not, benefit. It is therefore generally in the interest of each individual country to leave the burden of effort to the others. An important issue is the design of negotiating protocols that provide the right incentives in such contexts.

Similar questions arise for private actors. The development of global supply chains is often identified as a factor allowing multinational companies to avoid responsibility for their adverse environmental impacts on local communities, either by hiding behind the “corporate veil” (acting through their subsidiaries or passing the buck to their local partners) or by abusing weak and poorly enforced national regulations in developing countries. Several international frameworks have been established as guidance to encourage the positive contribution that multinational enterprises can make to environmental progress, and to minimize and resolve the harm that can result from their operations.

The costs and consequences of global environmental degradation can be particularly significant for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable populations, whose livelihoods often depend primarily on their local natural resources. Climate change-induced changes in weather patterns disrupt traditional agricultural seasons, increases in natural disasters affect their livelihoods more generally, land degradation reduces the value of their most productive asset, and biodiversity loss can significantly impair their ability to explore other production or consumption options. At the same time, rising living standards in many parts of the developing world, and particularly in emerging markets, over the past 100 years, and the associated increases in consumption, pollution, and population density in some places, have increased pressure on the environment. On a global scale, these trends are still ongoing and challenge the sustainability of current production and consumption patterns. However, behind the global picture, development issues are heterogeneous and cover different realities. In terms of analysis, they require diverse methodologies, benefit from interactions between several scientific disciplines and require the integration of contrasting points of view. Policy recommendations must therefore be nuanced, informed by rigorous research and designed by integrating a diversity of situations and objectives.

Agri-food systems are subject to increasing and correlated risks. Agricultural producers are strongly affected by climatic and economic disruptions. Deforestation is accelerating, especially in tropical areas. On the demand side, needs are constantly growing and renewing. According to the United Nations, the world’s population is expected to continue to grow in the coming decades. In addition, undernutrition and obesity coexist on a global scale. In this context, it has become crucial for governments and agri-food companies to promote the transition of food systems, to allow the emergence of new modes of food production and consumption, and to develop new forms of industrial organization of supply markets and marketing channels. The stated objectives are to guarantee food security for populations, accessibility to healthy food, and a reduction in the environmental impact of the agri-food sector.

What are the interactions between the dynamics of agri-food innovations and those of consumer behavior? What are the environmental consequences of these interactions? What are the effects of national and international public policies to promote sustainable food, both at the micro-economic level (consumer and agri-food company behaviour) and at the macro-economic level? What is the impact of these policies on the environment?