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 (UVic) in the Geography Department working on the Traders and Sustainability project. Sofia completed her undergraduate degree at UVic in Physical Geography and Environmental Studies, where she focused her studies on permaculture and how ecological communities can co-exist with humans, particularly in regards to growing food. She has spent the past few years working in Norway, Vancouver Island, and various Gulf Islands in the permaculture and ecological restoration fields. Her research interests include topics addressing the sustainability of global food systems, agricultural practices, environmental stewardship in agriculture and community and agricultural development.

Ina Niehues (she/her) is a student research assistant based at the Copenhagen Business School Department of Management, Society and Communication, supporting Dr. Carodenuto and Dr. Grabs with the Traders and Sustainability project. She is currently pursuing a Master’s in ‘Global Studies – A European Perspective’ at Roskilde University, Addis Ababa University and Ghent University. In her undergraduate studies, Ina focused on Climate and Social Justice in various contexts, inter alia using Participatory Action Research methods to explore land and resource conflicts within the mining sector in Colombia and Germany. She gained her first professional experience at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and German Agency for International Cooperation GmbH (GIZ).

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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