New tool makes it possible to trace internationally traded commodities to the farm level

Photo courtesy Neil Palmer/CIAT (CC BY-SA 2.0)

New tool makes it possible to trace internationally traded commodities to the farm level

Recent research, published by Focali members Javier Godar and Martin Persson with colleagues in Ecological Economics, develops a method to trace socio-environmental impacts of production to consumption.

What is the socio-environmental impact of your consumption on the place of production? It is an important question, but difficult to answer. The last decade’s unparalleled increase in material flows is part of the international trade, and the existing tools to trace the origin of a product are mostly limited to country level. When identifying socio-environmental impacts based on general country level data it is assumed that a product from for example Brazil, leaves the same impact no matter where in the country it is produced. This assumption can be very misleading and is not accurate for most countries since the impact of production varies depending on the natural zone of cultivation.

Javier Godar and Martin Persson with colleagues have developed a new tool to down-scale the origin of a product to regional and local place of production. The tool is called the Spatially Explicit Information on Production to Consumption System model (SEI-PCS). The objective of the model is to identify the actual locations of where the traded goods are produced. By locating the origin of production fine-scale socio-environmental impacts can be identified. This provides a breakthrough for making more accurate and policy relevant footprint analyses.

The study was published as a part of the Nordic Centre of Excellence for Strategic Adaptation Research (NORD-STAR).


Find out more about the SEI-PCS project here…

Find the study published in Ecological Economics here…

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