Sussex Sustainability Research Programme

SDG's, global commodity chains and environmental justice

Understanding how environmental justice conflict impacts achievement of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).




The team

PI and Co PI details

Principal Investigator


Project team

Where we are working

The project will be working in Ecuador.

Overview of project

The globalised expansion of capitalism and industrial economy is resulting in increase and expansion of extractive activities, production of waste, and their related social and environmental impacts that have generated conflict with, and resistance from, communities, indigenous groups and activists globally. We aim to understand how environmental justice conflict, identified by the Environmental Justice Atlas (, influences achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) outcomes at local, regional, national and international scales. This project supports the key focus of the SSRP in understanding trade-offs and synergies among SDGs.

Full project description

The project initially focuses on Ecuador as a case study. Ecuador is a global hotspot for biodiversity that suffers from high levels of poverty. Current Ecuadorian government development models to address poverty are underpinned by extractivism (logging, oil, metals) that continues to generate environmental conflicts (over 70 reported in the The project begins by bringing partners from Ecuador (Universidad Andina Simon Bolivar), Spain (Institute of Environmental Science and Technology ICTA, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona) and an interdisciplinary group from Sussex together in an inception workshop to integrate datasets and develop methodologies to assess trade-offs and synergies in SDG targets at a range of spatial scales (Parish to National) to determine impact of environmental conflict on SDGs. Using a range of environmental justice conflict categories we also aim to identify and generate datasets required to map SDG outcomes throughout the life cycle of associated commodity chains, from conflict zones to final waste, to highlight trade-offs and synergies in SDG outcomes for spatially-dislocated processes. Incorporating a temporal dimension i.e. how the various trade-offs and synergies change over time within a global analysis will form the basis for a large-scale multi-partner grant application in 2019. Project impacts include contribution to assessing progress towards sustainability by evidencing trade-offs, synergies and hidden global teleconnections that may blur clear assessment of progress towards UN-SDGs and enhanced accountability of stakeholders in environmental conflict by rendering visible, accountable and open to critical scrutiny, all beneficiaries from global commodity chains associated with conflict zones.

Timeline and funding

The project began in April 2018 and is funded for 18 months with £69,711.

Project poster

Peck Menton poster