Research School for Economic and Social History


Frank Veraart receives grant NWO Open Competition

Dr Frank Veraart (Eindhoven University of Technology), one of the directors of the Posthumus Research Network ‘Globalisation, Inequality and Sustainability in Long-Term Perspective’, together with PIs Professorr Jan-Pieter Smits (also Eindhoven University of Technology) and Professor Johan Schot (Utrecht University) (in cooperation with Wageningen University and Research, Statistics Netherlands (Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek) and the SHT Institute for Transition Studies) was recently awarded funding by NWO in the Open Competition for the international project ‘Sustainability trade-offs in the Netherlands’ entangled modernisation, 1900-2020′.

Imports of resources affect economic, social, and environmental conditions elsewhere in the world. Regarding sustainability trade-offs abroad, the Netherlands has the worst track record in Europe. Its performance has historical origins: over the past two centuries, scientific knowledge production, colonial developments, and industrial modernization have helped to create global production chains. Systematic science-based commodification attributed economic and use values to natural resources. This changed western perceptions of the natural environment. It had a severe impact on global environment and indigenous people’s livelihoods. Our research investigates this commodification process in conjunction with the development of global supply chains and their effect on sustainability. It traces the activities of global supply chain entanglers, the actors who constructed transnational socioeconomic systems. The research consists of four work packages. The first, conducted in collaboration with Netherlands Statistics, develops two databases: (1) on the import of commodities to the Netherlands, and (2) on the sustainability indicators for selected periods and regions. In conjunction, work packages two and three study qualitatively the processes of commodification, global system entanglement, and the distribution of these systems’ sustainability trade-offs in edible oils and metals. This enables a system comparison and analyses of cross-system dynamics in package 4. Findings will contribute to nascent academic fields of sustainability histories and deep transitions. Furthermore, this research will provide perspectives for contemporary policy initiatives in the field of sustainability transitions. The project is supported by an experienced multi-disciplinary team of scholars and relevant societal partners, ensuring broad dissemination of the knowledge gained.

The N.W. Posthumus Institute congratulates Frank and his project partners with this grant.