A planetary boundaries perspective on the sustainability: resilience relationship in the Kenyan tea supply chain

George Mutugu Mwangi, Stella Despoudi, Oscar Rodriguez Espindola, Konstantina Spanaki, Thanos Papadopoulos*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this paper is to examine whether agricultural supply chains (ASC) can be simultaneously sustainable and resilient to ecological disruptions, using the Planetary Boundaries theory. The nine different Planetary Boundaries i.e. climatic change, biodiversity loss, biogeochemical, ocean acidification, land use, freshwater availability, stratosphere ozone depletion, atmospheric aerosols and chemical pollution are examined in relation to ASC sustainability and resilience. Kenya's tea upstream supply chain sustainability and resilience from the ecological point of view is questioned. This study adopts a multi-case study analysis approach of nine producer organisations from Kenya's tea supply chain. The data from the in-depth semi-structured interviews and a focus group discussion are analysed using thematic analysis. The Kenyan tea supply chain producers are not aware of all the nine planetary boundaries, although these impact on their resilience practices. They are engaged in pursuing both sustainability and resilience practices. They implement mainly environmental practices in relation to sustainability, while only a few of them are implementing resilience practices. The sustainability and resilience concepts were found to be interrelated, but resilience does not improve at the same pace as sustainability. It is suggested that the relationship between sustainability and resilience is non-linear. Limitations and future research avenues are also provided.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages35
JournalAnnals of Operations Research
Early online date18 May 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 May 2021

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2021. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.


  • Agriculture
  • Sustainability
  • Resilience
  • Planetary Boundaries
  • Producers


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