Justice and Inclusiveness: The Reconfiguration of Global–Local Relationships in Sustainability Initiatives in Ghana’s Cocoa Sector

Faustina Obeng Adomaa*, Sietze Vellema, Maja Slingerland

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Pressure from the public and non-governmental organisations is pushing lead companies in the cocoa and chocolate sectors towards becoming more environmentally sustainable and socially just. Because of this, several sustainability programmes, certification schemes and delivery initiatives have been introduced. These have changed the relationship between chocolate companies, cocoa exporters, and small-scale farmers. This paper observes how large companies in the cocoa export and consumer markets are shifting away from their traditionally remote position in the cocoa sector. The pressure to ensure sustainability and justice has provoked more mutually dependent relationships with cocoa producers. Our analysis outlines the implications this emerging reconfiguration of global-local relationships has for procedural justice principles of interdependence and refutability, and the distributive justice principles of need and equity. These principles are important because they enable the different dimensions of inclusion: ownership, voice, risk, and reward. This paper highlights and qualifies arrangements surrounding these justice principles that manifest in the way five service delivery initiatives - associated with sustainability programmes and led by major buying companies in Ghana’s cocoa sector – are implemented. We show inclusiveness as an outcome of dynamic global-local relationships that are constantly reworked in response to smallholder farmers’ agency and state regulations. Portraying inclusiveness as an outcome of interactions changes its conceptualisation from a predefined ethical standpoint included in the design of standards to a result of unfolding mutual dependencies, which refashion how inclusive agriculture value chains work.

Original languageEnglish
Article number22
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2022


  • Farmer agency
  • Global food chains
  • Inclusive development
  • Sustainability goals


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