Principal Investigators

Dr. Janina Grabs holds a PhD in Political Science and is an Assistant Professor of Business and Society at ESADE Business School in Barcelona in their Department of Society, Politics and Sustainability.

Her work focuses on the private governance of sustainability in global agricultural value chains, with a special focus on tropical commodities such as coffee and palm oil. She also works on public-private governance interactions in the Global South. Her book “Selling Sustainability Short? The Private Governance of Labor and the Environment in the Coffee Sector” came out in 2020 with Cambridge University Press. Continuing work started during her postdoc, she is further co-leading ETH Zurich’s Environmental Policy Lab’s work on the SNF-funded project “Assessing the effectiveness and equity of zero-deforestation commitment implementation in the palm oil sector“.

Dr. Sophia Carodenuto holds a PhD in in Environment and Natural Resources Sciences and is an Assistant Professor in the University of Victoria’s Geography Department.

Her research covers climate change, global supply chains, forest governance, and public policy outcomes in diverse settings, from the tropical rainforests of Cameroon to the coastal rainforests in British Columbia, Canada. Before moving to Victoria in 2018, she worked for over a decade as a sustainability practitioner operationalizing public policy in collaboration with communities, policy makers, business, and development organizations. Much of her current work focuses on sustainability in the cocoa value chain, for instance through her SSHRC-funded project “Follow the bean: Tracing zero deforestation cocoa“.


Sofia (she/her) is a current MSc student at the University of Victoria in the Geography Department supervised by Dr. Carodenuto and Dr. Grabs. Her master’s research focuses on a community-engaged and applied research project with Uncouth, a local Victoria-based chocolate company and their Tanzanian cocoa source. This project is funded through the Stephens Family Graduate and Undergraduate Research Awards in Organic & Sustainable Food Systems. Prior to graduate studies, she worked in Norway, Vancouver Island, and various Gulf Islands in the permaculture and ecological restoration fields, where she gained first-hand experience on how ecological communities can co-exist with humans, particularly in regards to growing food. Her research addresses the sustainability of global food systems, cocoa commodity traders, global value chains, environmental stewardship in agriculture and community and agricultural development.

Past members of the project

Nana Ekua Awotwi is a Ghanaian and holds a MA in International Affairs and a BA in French and Psychology from the University of Ghana. Nana has over five years experience within the development sector and civil society in West Africa. She strives to engage in national and transnational research, advocacy and policy work that promotes environmental sustainability and the interests of vulnerable persons.

Ethan Quilty worked as a research assistant on the project. He is a fourth year Biology and Political Science student at the University of Victoria. He is a founding member of the COVIDA Collective, a political science research group that focuses on sustainable policy initiatives and democratic legitimacy in a post-COVID19 world. After completion of his undergraduate he hopes to pursue graduate studies.

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