Man wearing surgical face mask standing in front of board written on in Chinese characters

Sustainable supply chains and food systems

Sustainable supply chains and food systems

All products come from somewhere, and carry explicit social, environmental and economic impacts. Yet for most consumers and business-to-business buyers, the complexities of global supply chains make it difficult to identify the sustainability of the products they purchase. In addition, the world is facing interrelated threats from complex social-ecological and economic systems spanning the food, energy and water 'nexus'.

This research stream considers the realities of global supply chains and attempts to identify key success factors and the roots of ongoing systemic problems, as well as how companies both drive negative environmental impacts around food, water, energy and climate change, as well as drive potential solutions.

Current focus areas include:

  • Prof Jan Bebbington's work with Stockholm Resilience Centre on SeaBOS, which is series of commitments made by ten 'keystone actors' in the seafood industry, collaborating in a science-business partnership to undertake transformational activities and pursue becoming ocean stewards.
  • The SIRIUS project brings just over €862,751 to the Pentland Centre. SIRIUS stands for a Sustainable, Innovative, Resilient and Interconnected Urban food System. It is funded by ESRC under the JPI-UE Sustainable and Liveable Cities and Urban Areas, and a consortium led by Dr Lingxuan Liu represent a collaboration between Lancaster University, The Dutch Research Institute for Transitions (DRIFT), and Chinese Academy of Science.
  • Rurban Revolution - an £800,000 project, funded by the Global Food Security Programme with support from BBSRC, ESRC, NERC and The Scottish Government, considering how we could transform UK food production by radically upscaling fruit and veg growing in our towns and cities, and whether urban agriculture would make us, and our environment, healthier. Dr Lingxuan Liu is co-investigator for this project, which also includes researchers located in the Centre for Global Eco-innovation.
  • Professor Magnus George's expertise covers aquaculture, marine science and deep sea fisheries and associated environmental issues, and he has recently completed a GCRF funded project on subsistence agriculture amongst post-conflict Colombian communities, considering the closeness of ex-guerrilla fighters to their local environment and interactions with NGOs and other local actors around integration into mainstream markets.
  • Dr Allan Discua Cruz's work on family wine-producing businesses, and the intersection of sustainable wine production techniques, terroir, and sustainable business strategy. He has also focused on understanding the relevance of sustainability for artisanal chocolate and specialty coffee produced by entrepreneurial families.
  • Dr Lingxuan Liu’s five-year project on environmental governance, with Nanjing University and the UN Environment Programme, on new and transitioning mechanisms of governance for sustainability through collaboration across public and private sectors.
  • Prof Mark Stevenson conducts research into socially sustainable supply chain management. This includes work on the diffusion of socially sustainable practices to the upper tiers of supply chains and the actions firms can take to detect and remediate modern slavery risks to supply chains.
  • Prof Linda Hendry is particularly interested in socially sustainable supply chain management, with ongoing research into approaches needed to address the global issue of modern slavery in the supply chain. She is also leading the supply chain management work page in the Plastic Packaging in People’s Lives (PPiPL) project; and collaborating with researchers in Brazil to investigate the impact of COVID-19 on sustainability in the coffee supply chain.
  • PhD candidate Ophelia Chidgey combines her background in politics and human rights with supply chain and management science to conduct interdisciplinary research into how different political and regulatory environments affect corporate social responsibility initiatives' abilities to protect human rights, and reduce their abuses, within the supply chains of the garment industry.
  • The Pentland Centre is also acting as a Lancaster-based Nexus research hub, coordinating a discussion group across Lancaster University and engaging with leading initiatives within the UK-based Nexus Network.

Previous areas of work iclude:

  • Dr Lingxuan Liu’s five-year project on environmental governance, with Nanjing University and the UN Environment Programme, on new and transitioning mechanisms of governance for sustainability through collaboration across public and private sectors.
  • PhD candidate Katre Leino has continued her cutting-edge research in collaboration with a leading sustainability non-profit organisation in the UK (funded by the EU Marie Curie Actions grant under the project ‘Innovation for Sustainability’). Her ethnography of three collaborative cross-sector, multi-stakeholder platforms, brought together diverse organisations to tackle ‘wicked’ problems in sustainable development.

Key researchers

Mustafa Ali

Dr Mustafa Ali

Research Associate

Patrick Bigger

Dr Patrick Bigger


Critical Geographies

Ophelia Chidgey

Ophelia Chidgey

Administrative Assistant, Assistant Dean - Cartmel College, PhD student

Supply Chain Management

Allan Discua Cruz

Dr Allan Discua Cruz

Senior Lecturer

Centre for Family Business, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Latin America Research Cluster

C062, C - Floor, Management School
Magnus George

Professor Magnus George

Head of Department, Professor

C085a, C - Floor, Management School
Lingxuan Liu

Dr Lingxuan Liu

Lecturer in Sustainability

Benjamin Neimark

Dr Benjamin Neimark

Senior Lecturer

Improving global stewardship, Institute for Social Futures Fellow, Political Ecology

A24, A - Floor, LEC lll