GCRF Trade, Development and the Environment Hub

Lead Research Organisation: World Conservation Monitoring Ctr WCMC
Department Name: Science Unit


Our GCRF TRADE Hub addresses a global challenge that has led to dramatic decline in biodiversity and ecosystem resilience in the past century, and if not addressed will significantly imperil the development of lower income nations. Trade in wildlife and agricultural commodities from low and middle income to higher income countries has increased rapidly over the last decades, and is projected to expand rapidly into the future to meet demands. Although trade is vital for national development, it also can carry heavy environmental and social costs, particularly for poor rural people in DAC countries, mainly because there is a great imbalance of power within the decision-making system and the most affected people are relatively powerless and voiceless in the decision-making process. The development of these trades over the past decades have has also resulted in considerable impacts on natural systems, threatening with extinction thousands of species globally. Addressing the issue of balancing the positives of ever-expanding trade with its costs is essential to addressing several of the SDGs, to protect and promote livelihoods within vulnerable communities in DAC countries, and is important for the UK in terms of negotiating sustainable trade deals that also meet other environmental and social development commitments.

The Hub will work on a number of key trade flows that are particularly important to our focal developing countries and the UK, and where we have existing strengths that will allow us to have real impact in the lifetime of the Hub. This will include trade that has a direct impact on biodiversity - for example the global trade in wildlife for a range of uses, including the regional and national trade in wild meat. It will also include agricultural commodity trades that have indirect impacts on biodiversity through conversion or degradation of habitats. Its strong international and interdisciplinary research team, including economists, trade modellers, political scientists, ecologists and development scientists, will produce novel, impact-orientated research. Through involving companies, UN-related trade bodies and governments, the project will be embedded in the needs of the economy and development at large.

We have ten work packages: During the project design phase WP0 will further elaborate a detailed theory of change and mapping exercise leading to the co-design of the research programme with critical stakeholders (private sector actors, trade organisations and NGOs). This will lead into the delivery of eight interlinked work packages: WP1: Understanding wildlife trade from DAC countries (live animals, skins, non-timber products, wildmeat) at the supply end; volumes and characteristics of local and export trade, and impacts on biodiversity and resource users; WP2: Understanding supply to demand-end agricultural commodity trade pathways, volumes and characteristics, within and exported from DAC countries; WP3: Determining the magnitude and spatial-temporal distribution of social benefits and costs for selected wildlife and commodity supply chains from the supply to demand ends; WP4: Understanding how trade and economic policies impact on wild-sourced and agricultural commodity trades and their impact on people and nature; WP5: Modelling the implementation of different scenarios of trade policy and corporate decision making; WP6: Developing solutions and building capacity through engagement with the private sector (large corporations and investors); WP7: Developing solutions and building capacity, through engaging with trade public sector rule-setting agencies and national policy makers; WP8: Outreach and Technology Solutions. We also have a cross-cutting WP9: building DAC partner capacity to ensure ongoing, sustainable research-led solutions to TRADE's intractable challenge. We involved DAC countries, corporations, investment bodies, and UN-linked trade agencies in the co-design of this Hub from the outset.

Planned Impact

Impact activities constitute a large proportion of the work plan. These activities have been co-designed with impact partners ranging from international government-led trade bodies, local to international NGOs, global research and outreach organisations, and major corporations and investment bodies. We have developed a detailed theory of change with the partnership, and this has been reviewed and verified as credible by our impact partners. It includes an assessment of assumptions and risks that need to be managed. This Theory of Change and the associated Logical Framework will guide our impact work and will be elaborated at project start.

In the private sector, we have already obtained written commitments to work with the hub from some of the world largest companies: Mars, Kering, Asda, Ingredion and AB Agri. A further array of other international companies have also indicated interest to be involved to help maximize the Hubs impact ranging from commodity traders to financial institutions. Our academic partners, WCMC, and our NGO partners (WRI, WWF and TRAFFIC) all have further active programmes with companies that we can build upon as the Hub starts. We have also secured support from membership organizations that count multi-nationals and investment banks among their members, as convened by the UN Environment's Finance Initiative.

Among trade and policy related bodies, we have core team members from UN Environment's Environment and Trade Hub, Chatham House, and commitment to participate from the UNEP Finance Initiative. Other agencies, such as CITES, the World Economic Forum, Food and Agriculture Organisation, and the Organisation for Economic and Commercial Development have also stated their interest. When the TRADE Hub is operational we believe that more of these highly influential bodies will join the work.

At the end of the project we expect to have delivered a number of tangible outcomes and impacts: a) co-developed, with impact partners in the UK, international bodies and DAC countries, realistic scenarios of policy options for the development of global trade to alleviate poverty without reducing biodiversity; b) enhanced the evidence base, traceability and transparency for key commodity and wildlife trade flows and their impacts; c) developed new ways to show how biodiversity-impacting trade flows from hub countries to other parts of the world, and within these countries, affects natural capital and social development, and proposed an action plan to tackle emerging challenges now and into the future; d) identified and promoted local solutions to trade-related sustainability issues affecting wildlife and vulnerable people; e) defined pathways toward positive changes in biodiversity impacts, within multiple trade flows and with concrete implementation of demonstration projects on the ground in at least one country; f) thereby prompted a change in trade decisions from at least one developing country and for at least one key trade flow between the developing world and the developed world (including the UK); g) catalysed a measurable change in the way global trade is conducted in at least three major business operations and changed how trade benefits and impacts are measured and accounted for by governments and business; h) built capacity in developing countries, enabling sustainable and growing networks supporting interdisciplinary research excellence and policy influence on trade-related issues.

Our approach to impact also aims to ensure the sustainability of the work of the TRADE Hub. By involving an array of permanent agencies, we plan to embed the work within these agencies to allow the thrust of the work to continue long after the funding ends. We will also spend time towards the end of the funded Hub period on activities related to fundraising, ensuring continuation and legacy of the work, and keeping the most productive elements working on these issues.



Neil David Burgess (Principal Investigator)
Gemma Cranston (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0002-3571-9408
Robert Mwinyihali (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0003-3397-4488
Pablo Pacheco (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0001-7192-6861
Valerie Kapos (Co-Investigator)
Jianbin Shi (Co-Investigator)
Kelly Malsch (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0002-8099-9357
Katharine Abernethy (Co-Investigator)
Anja Katharina Moltke (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0231-4807
Sylvia Sylvia Szabo (Co-Investigator)
Kenneth Eveleigh Giller (Co-Investigator)
Tim Newbold (Co-Investigator)
Bernardo Strassburg (Co-Investigator)
Eleanor Milner-Gulland (Co-Investigator)
Elena Antoni (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0002-8178-346X
Annelisa Grigg (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0002-5610-6766
James Oliver Vause (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0001-8462-0036
Herry Purnomo (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0003-1957-9385
Elizabeth J Z Robinson (Co-Investigator)
Zoe Georgina Davies (Co-Investigator)
Kevin Njabo (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0002-5799-0688
Zoe Matthews (Co-Investigator)
Christopher West (Co-Investigator)
Jeni Pareira (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0002-6909-0468
Robert James Smith (Co-Investigator)
Marije Schaafsma (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0878-069X
Lauren Coad (Co-Investigator)
Benis N Egoh (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0002-9126-7784
Reuben Mpuya Kadigi (Co-Investigator)
Sharon Brooks (Researcher) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0001-8744-3557
Ben Groom (Researcher)
Giles David Atkinson (Researcher)
Felix Preston (Researcher)
Andrew Balmford (Researcher)
Marieke Sassen (Researcher) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0001-8844-7437
Georgina Mary Mace (Researcher)
Antje Ahrends (Researcher)
Michael Brian Harfoot (Researcher)


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