CORDIS - EU research results

Is environmental justice necessary for human well-being? Comparative analysis of certification schemes, inclusive business, and solidarity economy strategies

Project description

Effective private-sector strategies for human well-being

There is an urgent need to reshape the effects of agricultural investment, land use and trade on human well-being. Unparalleled concentrations in agri-food value chains are increasing global inequality, and land grabbing is threatening the lives of millions. This makes it necessary for the private sector to develop strategies to protect and enhance human well-being in a fair manner. However, current science is inconclusive on which strategies are most effective and how limitations may be addressed. The EU-funded COMPASS project analyses a range of strategies of the private sector – such as inclusive businesses, certification schemes, and solidarity economies – to develop a compass of how recognition of environmental justice in these strategies may support or hinder human well-being.


Unprecedented concentration in agri-food value chains is reinforcing global inequality. Waves of land grabbing threaten the livelihoods of millions. Reshaping the effects of agricultural investment, land use, and trade on human well-being is thus an urgent challenge. Certification schemes (CS) such as “Fairtrade” have become a common strategy to meet this challenge. However, accumulating evidence shows that many CS have limited effects on well-being. Inclusive business (IB) and solidarity economy (SE) strategies are emerging alternatives. Inclusiveness and solidarity are widely believed to enhance well-being, but evidence and theories disprove this common belief. Environmental justice may be a necessary condition to understand and reshape the effects of CS, IB, and SE on well-being. However, lack of reliable data and comparative analyses limits understanding of these links. COMPASS will tackle these challenges. This project aims to demonstrate how environmental justice influences the effects of CS, IB, and SE strategies on human well-being. COMPASS is organized in four work packages (WPs) and focuses on the cocoa and coffee sectors of Peru and Switzerland. WP1 surveys organizations (n=120) to compare their instruments used in CS, IB, and SE strategies. WP2 surveys households (n=840) and uses set-theoretic and process-tracing methodology to explain the effects of CS, IB, and SE on well-being. WP3 identifies the rules that organizations (n=18) create to regulate land use, investment and trade, assesses their environmental justice, and explains how they influence well-being. WP4 generates context-sensitive generalizations of these effects, and it tests and advances pertinent theories. COMPASS breaks new ground by systematically comparing CS, IB, and SE strategies and their effects on human well-being. It develops a new strand of environmental justice research on private-sector strategies and it tests the transformative potential of environmental justice.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 499 250,00
3012 Bern

See on map

Schweiz/Suisse/Svizzera Espace Mittelland Bern / Berne
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Total cost
€ 1 499 250,00

Beneficiaries (1)