Constraints on Eco-industrial Development in the Context of Global Production Networks: The Case of Ethiopian Eco-industrial Parks

Federico Jensen

Research output: Working paperResearch


Eco-industrial parks are an attractive idea for international organizations, state officials and firms alike, as they provide a physical space to entangle better environmental practices with the realm of production. This is particularly true in emerging economies, where industrialization is still the main goal of states. Although the technical solutions exist, and there is a perceived ‘good will’ from tenants and park managers, there is still an implementation gap. Implementation is constrained by local and regional dynamics surrounding the parks, as well as by global dynamics the tenants of the parks are faced with, trying to be profitable in highly competitive global production networks (GPN).
In order to identify these constraints and how they affect the implementation of eco-industrial parks in emerging countries, this article studies the creation and management of eco industrial parks in Ethiopia, by combining local managerial issues at park level with GPN dynamics producers at the parks face. This article finds that the hyper competitive nature of the apparel GPN implies that firms located in Ethiopian industrial parks have a hard time participating in solving issues together at park level, even when buyers force them to participate due to their sustainability management practices. At the same time, the local context in Ethiopia acts as a barrier for industrial symbiosis due to poor infrastructure and a lack of possible linkages and services for the parks. Finally, the question of who pays for better environmental practices remains a contested one. In Ethiopia, so far, the government has had to pay for most of the environmentally friendly infrastructure for apparel producers.
Based on these observations, it is argued that the state has a role to play through strategic industrial policy in not only attracting investments to the country, as it has, but also in improving the general regional assets in order to foster eco-industrial development in Ethiopia and improve its chances of benefitting from the parks. This is no easy nor cheap task, but industrial development will have to consider the environmental challenges ahead to be successful in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationRoskilde
PublisherCenter for African Economies. Roskilde University
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9788773495575
Publication statusPublished - 2020
SeriesCAE Working Papers
Number2020: 1

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