Global environmental challenges of natural resource management

The sustainable management and conservation of tropical forests is one of the most pressing global environmental challenges today. Tropical forests influence the provision of a range of global public goods, from climate change mitigation to biodiversity conservation and food security. Forests attain an additional global dimension due to the spatial reach of wood production networks connecting loggers in the Global South with consumers in the North, as trees are cut throughout the South for the production of goods destined to the North, in particular Europe. Tropical forest governance has also given rise to claims of social and environmental injustices, such as the violation of forest people’s rights, threats to the planet’s ecological integrity and potential harm to future generations’ capabilities (Forsyth and Sikor 2013). Claims of injustice increasingly feature in supranational forest politics (Sikor and Stahl, 2011). These globalising processes of wood production and justice politics challenge efforts to govern tropical forests at local, national and supranational levels and provide the impetus for unprecedented initiatives to facilitate collective action beyond the nation state (Bernstein and Cashore, 2007).


Global Production Networks

Global Production Network thinking  has grown out of concepts of commodity and value chains (Bair, 2005, Faße et al., 2009). The shared focus of these concepts is on capturing the full range of extractive, productive and consumptive activities that are required to bring a product from its conception through different phases of production to final consumers (see Kaplinsky and Morris, 2001). Input-output structures between different phases shape the creation and capture of value, thereby exerting significant influence on network dynamics (Henderson et al., 2002, Coe et al., 2008).


Environmental Justice

Environmental justice begins with people’s actual claims about (in)justice (Walker, 2011, Sikor, 2013). This approach recognises the plurality of justice in the sense that more often than not, actors do not agree on a single definition of what is morally right and instead refer to plural notions of justice (Martin et al., 2013). Another key premise is that notions of justice are contextual and experiential, in the sense that they depend on the particular political and historical setting (Fraser, 2009). Research investigates how social actors justify claims of (in)justice in public discourse, lending support to some notions, establishing certain conceptions as dominant and contesting the legitimacy of others.


Theoretical framework


The ProdJus theoretical framework hypothesises the dynamics between supranational governance innovations and justice issues in the governance of tropical forests. We direct analytical attention to the origins of justice claims in global production dynamics and justice politics, as captured in research questions 1-3, the uptake of certain notions of justice in the ecolabelling and FLEGT (RQ4-5) and the effects of ecolabelling and FLEGT on justice issues in tropical forest governance (RQ6-7).


Research questions

The overarching research question of ProdJus is:

How do supranational governance innovations respond to issues of (in)justice associated with the governance of tropical forests?


The research considers these supranational innovations as interactive elements in forest governance that operate at local, national and supranational levels and across them. It does not take their supranational nature as given, but employs a bottom-up perspective to locate governance arrangements – i.e. their specific forms and effects – within production and political dynamics at various scales (Bulkeley, 2005).

More specifically, ProdJus will trace the origins of claims of (in)justice in global production networks and forest politics through the following research questions:

RQ1. How are different actors positioned in global production networks in the absence of ecolabelling certification and before the enforcement of FLEGT agreements?

RQ2. What are the most critical justice issues with regard to the governance of tropical forests without ecolabelling certification and before FLEGT?

RQ3. What claims of (in)justice do different actors assert in negotiations over ecolabelling certification procedures and alignment with FLEGT rules?

ProdJus will then examine how claims of (in)justice are, or are not, taken up in the ecolabelling and FLEGT. 

RQ4. What notions of justice inform these claims, and which ones gain traction in public discourse?

RQ5. Why and how are particular notions of justice institutionalized in the ecolabelling and FLEGT, whereas others are not?

Finally, ProdJus will determine the effects of FLEGT and ecolabelling on justice issues in the governance of tropical forests:

RQ6. How do the justice notions enshrined in the ecolabelling and FLEGT influence actors’ positions in, and exclusion from, global production networks?

RQ7. What effects do changes in actors’ positions create on justice issues in tropical forest governance?



ProdJus uses mixed methods to collect and analyse data. The empirical basis of the research is primarily interviews with industry actors, starting from the forest levels and working up to retailers, importers, policy-makers and social and environmental campaigners. These data will be focussed around claims that  actors make, and the positions they take with regards to distributive, procedural and recognition matters.  Whilst ProdJus focusses on FLEGT (and specifically the European Union Timber Regulation), ecolabelling is used as a comparison to understand how different governance systems lead to different justice politics.


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FORSYTH, T. & SIKOR, T. 2013. Forests, development, and the globalization of justice. Geographical Journal, 179, 114-121.

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ProdJus (Supranational Forest Governance in an Era of Globalising Wood Production and Justice Politics)

  • Interviewed over 500 people in Europe, Ghana, Indonesia and Vietnam

  • Published 12 papers on the effect of the EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade on different actors in the global timber production network

  • Contributed novel contributions to how EU policy affects actors differently, mostly reinforcing existing norms rather than demonstrating 'new' ways of  addressing illegal logging

ProdJus (Supranational Forest Governance in an Era of Globalising Wood Production and Justice Politics) is a collaborative research project implemented by research partners in Ghana, Indonesia, Vietnam and the UK.

ProdJus research analysed supranational forest governance in and beyond Europe in relation to globalising production networks and justice politics. We had a particular interest in the differentiation of governance forms and outcomes between Europe and the South, among Southern countries and between the transnational, national and local levels. By looking at novel forms of forest governance (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade [FLEGT] and Ecolabelling schemes), ProdJus improved the understanding of how collective action can address critical challenges in an increasingly globalised world, and what this means for the future of the European continent in the presence of a more general shift from state-centred territorial governance to flow-centred arrangements.  ProdJus achieved these theoretical aims through new research that combined analyses of global production networks and justice politics in an innovative and transdisciplinary manner, built on an international partnership of leading researchers from Africa, Asia and Europe, and drew on empirical fieldwork in Ghana, Indonesia, Vietnam and Europe.

The project was a partnership of:


The project scientific personnel were:


Emmanuel Acheampong, Ghana Lead Co-Investigator, KNUST  

Dr Acheampong is senior Lecturer at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. He holds a PhD in Human Geography (researching forest-based livelihoods) from the University of Hull, UK. He is a member of Forest Connect Working Group which seeks to reduce poverty by linking smallholders with markets and service providers. He has been researching forest governance systems, timber production networks and forest justices for 15 years resulting in several publications in peer reviewed international journals.


Cam Hoang, Vietnam Lead Co-Investigator, VASS    

Dr Hoang is Senior Researcher at the Institute of Cultural Studies. He holds a PhD in socio-cultural anthropology from the University of Washington, USA. His research interests are forest politics, environmental justice and cultural change among minority ethnic groups in Vietnam. He has over 19 years of experience working with local communities in the mountains of Vietnam, is an emergent public scholar on ethnic and cultural issues in Vietnam and collaborates with Sikor on multi-country research on the politics and governance of carbon forestry.


Achmad Maryudi, Indonesia Lead Co-Investigator, UGM

Prof Maryudi is a Professor at Universitas Gadjah Mada. He holds a PhD in Forest Policy Development from Göttingen University, Germany. His research interests include forest policy and governance, community forestry policy, small-medium forest enterprises and forest tenure. He is active in advising policy at both global and national levels, among others as deputy chair of the Forest Policy and Governance division of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations. He also sits on the EU-Indonesia Joint Evaluation Team on the implementation of FLEGT.


Constance L. McDermott, Science Advisor, UEA

Dr McDermott is a Senior Fellow in Forest Governance and the Leader of the Ecosystems Governance Group at Oxford University with over 25 years’ experience in multi-level governance of forests, climate, and land use change and associated supply chains. Her research examines forest and landscape governance in its many forms, including intergovernmental initiatives, domestic institutions and policy, market-based initiatives such as forest, agriculture and green building certification, and community-based resource management. Her work has spanned the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa and ranged from in-depth case studies to international comparative research covering tropical, temperate and boreal forest zones in over 30 countries worldwide.


Rodd Myers, Senior Research Associate & Team Leader, Dala for UEA      

Dr Myers has worked on natural resource and agricultural production networks for 12 years in both agricultural and forest based land use systems as a practitioner and academic. He is an experienced project manager and accustomed to co-ordinating teams dispersed around the globe. Research interests are in local-global environmental justice issues around forest-based natural resources. Most recently, he worked on a global study of multi-level forest governance with the Centre for International Forestry Research. Recent publications focus on forest governance, land use change, and environmental justice. Dr Myers is a member of the Global Environmental Justice Group at the School of International Development.


Rebecca Rutt, Research Associate, UEA

Dr Rutt is a social scientist with over a decade of research and project experience in natural resource management and particularly forestry. Her research tends to focus on issues of concern to political ecology and environmental justice. Prior to this position, she has worked at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment, the University of Copenhagen’s Institute of Food and Resource Economics, and the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Forestry Department. Dr Rutt was employed by the University of East Anglia’s School of International Development and is based in Copenhagen, Denmark.


Our team also recognises the invaluable contribution and leadership that Professor Thomas Sikor made to the conceptualisation of ProdJus.


ProdJus was supported by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond in collaboration with the Wellcome Trust and VolkswagenStiftung through the Europe and Global Challenges initiative.


  • Critical reflection on the potential of supranational governance innovations.

  • Recommendations on how FLEGT, and other supranational natural resource product governance structures, may be improved from a social and environmental justice perspective.

  • Show how procedural notions of justice get taken up in FLEGT agreements through an emphasis on civil society participation in the reform of forest law.



Hoang Cam, Constance McDermott, Rodd Myers

Journal of Vietnamese Cultural Studies


Open Access

Maryudi, A., Acheampong, E., Rutt, R., Myers, R., McDermott, C.

Society & Natural Resources


Open Access

Myers, Rodd; Rutt, Rebecca; McDermott, Constance; Maryudi, Ahmad; Acheampong, Emmanuel; Camargo, Marisa; Cầm, Hoàng

Journal of Political Ecology


Open Access

Acheampong, E. and Maryudi, A

Forest Policy and Economics


Open Access

Sijapati Basnett, B., Myers, R. and Elias, M.

Katila, P., Colfer, C.J.P., de Jong, W., Galloway, G., Pacheco, P. and Winkel, G. (eds.) Sustainable Development Goals: Their Impacts on Forests and People. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.


Đoàn Thị Tuyến

Rural socio-culture of Vietnam in the transformation context. Hanoi: Thế Giới Publishing House.


Open Access

Hansen, CP, Rutt, R, Acheampong, E.

Forest Policy and Economics


Open Access

Hansen, Christian Pilegaard; Rutt, Rebecca Leigh; Acheampong, Emmanuel ; van Bruggen, Tirza Julianne; Hougaard, Inge-Merete; Pouliot, Mariéve

Policy Briefs (Copenhagen Centre for Development Research)


Open Access

Maryudi, A. and Myers, R.



Open Access

Rutt, R., Myers, R., McDermott C., and Ramcilovic-Suominenc, S.

Environmental Science & Policy

Related Documents

ProdJus Brochure


ProdJus Instrument 11 - Key Informant Interview


ProdJus Instrument 21 - Village Level Data Collection


ProdJus Instrument 22 - Corporations


ProdJus Instrument 23 - NGO & Policy Makers


ProdJus Research Protocols