ESRC-DFID Leveraging Buying Power for Development – Ethical consumption and public procurement in Chile and Brazil

  • Kleine, Dorothea (PI)
  • Tomás, Aritzia (CoI)
  • Bartholo, Roberto (CoI)
  • Brightwell, Graca (CoI)
  • Aglioni, Nurjk (CoI)
  • Afonso, Rita (CoI)

Project: Research

Project Details


Funded under the ESRC-DFID Poverty Reduction Programme (2011-2013)

This project aims to explore how the buying power of the individual and the state can be used as a lever for development. Chile and Brazil are former developing countries which are now classified as middle-income but suffer from some of the highest levels of inequality in the world. Ethical Consumption movements such as the Fair Trade movement have shown that buying power can be used to channel money to the poorer people in these countries. Ethical consumption, i.e. a form of consumption in which consumers use their buying power to effect social and pro-environmental change is now widespread in income-rich countries, with the UK’s 36 billion-pound “ethical market” being particularly well-developed. This leverage can be even more powerfully used through public procurement, where the state buys goods and services in the name of taxpayers. Chile’s state procurement market is 8.6 billion, Brazil’s 55 billion USD.

For this project, an interdisciplinary academic team based in 3 countries (UK, Chile, Brazil) will collaborate with three campaign NGOs (one in each country) who are pioneers in the field of ethical consumption. The Chilean colleagues recently conducted the first exploratory study of the trend towards ethical consumption in Chile and the Brazilian colleague and the Brazilian NGO Instituto Akatu have studied the emergence of ethical consumption among Brazil’s growing middle class for over a decade. What is seen as ethical is negotiated differently in different societies. In order to use buying power as a lever in democracies, we must explore what people locally see as “ethical” choices in their own buying decisions and what criteria they want the state to use when making purchasing decisions in their name.
Effective start/end date1/10/11 → …


  • Economic & Social Res Coun ESRC: £282,753.00

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger