Principal Investigator: Barbara Harriss-White. Lead Organisation: University of Oxford
Co-investigators: Rebecca Maren White; Hema Ramakrishnan
Informal economies are neglected in debates about climate change and the long-awaited materials revolution. This trans-disciplinary pilot project will develop methods to study the informal economy’s materiality.
Methods: Uniting life-cycle analysis (from environmental science) with value chain/production system analysis (from management science and economics) and decent work criteria (from labour studies), it explores how capital, technology and labour are combined to produce commodities and GHGs. Multi-criteria analysis will then explore the costs and incommensurable trade-offs of technology lowering GHGs and improving livelihoods.
Substance: CO2 (and possibly water) are chosen as indicators of materiality. The system of rice production and distribution is selected since the research team is familiar with its complexity.
Evidence: Data will be collected from semi-arid tropical regions. Four production technologies will be stylised, for large and small units (high yield varieties, systems of rice intensification, ‘labelled’ organic rice and rainfed rice); and four distribution channels (informal distribution, partially regulated markets, supermarket supply chains and the state’s public distribution systems).
Outreach: The project engages with stakeholders and communicates its results globally. Its intended impact is on uptake and on further applications.