Global economies increasingly depend upon international trade to deliver their goods and services. Products consumed in one country have usually undergone processing steps in other countries, with raw materials sourced from a multitude of international producers. Any impacts along this supply chain are “hidden” from direct view. This disconnect undermines the ability of local actors in places of both production and consumption to shape local and global responses
At the same time, we are seeing a relative explosion in information that should, in theory, help to unpack this complexity. We now have data about international trade flows, environmental change in production landscapes and the impacts of our consumption overall.
Yet there remains an implementation gap. Sustainable trade practice lags behind commitments and our understanding of where the problems are and who is connected to them. Researchers and other providers of information and new technologies need to work hand in hand with data users to make sure that data is understood, actionable and complements or enhances the existing data landscape.