Call for Papers: Special Issue Journal Ecological Economics

Deforestation-free trade: Global governance challenges and socio-environmental implications in producing countries

Call for papers for a special issue in the journal Ecological Economics

Supported by the International Society for Ecological Economics

Invited editors

Please send your abstract (max. 500 words) by email before the 22nd of April 2022 to the invited editors

Special issue information:


Intensification of deforestation in tropical countries associated with commodities exports has spurred recent high-level commitments and agreements among governments and firms. These attempts at governance innovations show a current interest, particularly in high-income countries, in achieving deforestation-free flows. For instance, in November 2021, the European Commission launched a proposal for a regulation to attain deforestation-free products, which aims to end deforestation and forest degradation associated with international supply chains of key agricultural commodities consumed in Europe. In addition, there is currently a bill under discussion in the U.S. Congress (the U.S. Forest Act) that, if approved, will hold international suppliers of commodities to the American market accountable for illegal deforestation in the places where plantations are located. International trade of commodities associated with deforestation risks is of course shaped to a large extent by financial flows. In the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, in 2021, leaders of 141 countries signed a declaration on forest and land use, committing, among other things, to “facilitate the alignment of financial flows with international goals to reverse forest loss and degradation” by 2030. Also in the Glasgow COP26, over 30 financial institutions, representing assets over US $ 4.5 trillion, committed to eliminating deforestation driven by the production and exports of agricultural commodities from their investment and lending portfolios by 2025.

These new initiatives aiming to contribute to halting deforestation associated with international trade share some governance principles, like (a) making financial organizations and transnational corporations accountable for deforestation associated with their businesses, and (b) acknowledging that strategies to address forest loss and degradation require international coordination between governments, trading financial firms and civil society. They assume therefore that national legislations and enforcement mechanisms are not enough to achieve deforestation reduction goals. The configuration of such complex global coordination needs to create and put in place innovative governance settings and tools, which should include a combination of public regulation and private standards conditioning the socio-environmental performance of international supply chains. Filling this governance gap will definitively face significant challenges, along different dimensions.

On the one hand, governance innovations impacting global value chains of commodities that have historically driven deforestation might create new opportunities for effectively slowing down the expansion of the agricultural or extraction frontiers into forested and vulnerable landscapes, protected areas, or indigenous lands. On the other hand, a number of unintended effects might arise, such as the exclusion of agricultural smallholders unable to comply with costly administrative requirements imposed by powerful players or leakage effects (shift of exports to importing countries with less stringent regulations). Furthermore, political contestation might arise, based on the argument that new regulatory standards at the value chain level might actually disguise trade protectionism from rich countries, or be the new expression of green imperialism. This special issue is expected to address the diverse implications and impacts of emerging governance regimes of value chains aiming to ensure the production and international trade of deforestation-free (agricultural or mineral) commodities.

We call potential contributors with theoretical or empirical studies to submit their abstracts

Thematic scope of the special issue:

  • Legal approaches with regards to the intersection between changes in the regulatory framework of international trade (such as due diligence rules in importing countries), forest governance, and land use practices driving biodiversity loss and social exclusion in tropical countries
  • The relationship between trade flows, market dynamics, and actors’ agency and networks, with emphasis on the implications for deforestation and land appropriation and accumulation
  • Analysis of conflicts at different levels in relation to the expansion of commodity frontiers
  • Socio-environmental implications, impacts, and challenges in biodiversity-rich countries of emerging international governance regimes of supply chains
  • Historical trends on the relationship between regulations, the dynamics of commodity frontiers, international demand for deforestation-prone commodities, and international trade flows


The organization of the special issue will follow several steps. First, we will call for abstracts. With the selected contributors we will organize an online workshop (of about 50 participants), where results will be presented and discussed, and the scope of the special issue better tuned, jointly with the contributors. As a third step, we will request authors to participate in an internal review process of their manuscripts. After revision and internal acceptance, we will ask authors to submit their contributions to the journal. After acceptance by the journal, the articles will be progressively published online.

Please note an ISEE membership is required to contribute to the workshop. Please follow this link to view membership benefits and rates. Attendance is free for members of the ISEE.


ISEE membership is only required for contributing to the above ISEE workshop and special issues. ISEE membership is not required for authors submitting a regular paper to the journal Ecological Economics.

Manuscript submission information:

Submission and chronogram

Submission of abstracts: 22nd of April 2022

Acceptance for participation in the online workshop: 29th of April 2022

Online Workshop: 3rd of June 2022

Submission of first versions for internal review: 29th of July 2022

Deadline for submission of revised versions to the journal: 29th November 2022

Articles will be published once they have been accepted by the editorial team of the journal (following the regular review procedure of Ecological Economics).

Learn more about the benefits of publishing in a special issue:

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