Value chains – a set of activities that conceptualise, produce and bring a product to consumers – have been an integral part of the global economic system for over 20 years. Despite their active participation in international trade and rise in foreign direct investments, low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) have achieved limited social or economic benefits.
While powerful chain actors such as multi-national corporations have benefited from actively expanding global value chains, weaker chain actors – often poor households, firms and farms in LMICs – have been left behind and further marginalised. This has increased inequality across the world in terms of employment opportunities, wages, labour rights and gender equality. In the complex, interconnected world we live in today, what mechanisms determine the losers and winners along global as well as regional and local value chains? What incentives are needed to develop value chains that contribute to equal and prosperous societies?