Published on Dec 21, 2017

During the Early Career Researchers event prior to the 2016 Nairobi Conference on Earth System Governance (December 2016), the idea was formed to write an article on innovative participatory research methods with a group of Earth System Governance researchers.

We are pleased to announce that that article, written by seven Earth System Governance Research Fellows, is now published in the 12th issue of the Annual Review of Social Partnerships (ARSP), titled Innovative Participatory Research Methods in Earth System Governance. The issue can be downloaded here.

Current environmental problems are often extremely complex, uncertain, and affecting multiple actors and institutions across sectors and scales. Earth System Governance is a field of research that is highly relevant for understanding social interactions across scales and sectors and addressing complex problems. Earth System Governance refers to the broad collection of formal and informal rules, mechanisms, and networks ranging from the local to the global scale which deal with environmental changes.

Earth System Governance can be seen as both an empirical phenomenon and as a political project. It refers to a social phenomenon observed in the interactions and activities of many international regimes, bureaucracies, local and transnational activists groups, and expert networks. At the same time, it is also a political effort to unite stakeholders, aiming to strengthen the institutions and networks addressing complex governance challenges associated with Earth System Governance.

The article argues that participatory research is an important way to appeal to Earth System Govenance both as a social phenomenon – as a way to better understand the complex empirical dynamics associated with earth system governance – and as a political endeavour – by engaging different stakeholders in (academic) research and fostering processes of learning. It presents four examples of participatory research methods in earth system governance research, and discusses their respective objectives and challenges. This demonstrates the unique contributions different methods can make towards addressing the complex characteristics of earth system governance.

The ARSP is an annual journal, aiming to bridge theory and practice of cross-sector partnerships by: using innovative, open-access publication formats; engaging an international, cross-disciplinary Editorial Board; and ensuring the cross-fertilisation of insights from both academics and practitioners.

Citation: Faling, M., Garard, J., Schouten, G., Veeger, M., Vervoort, J., Schulz K., & Rutting, L. (2017) ‘Innovative Participatory Research Methods in Earth System Governance’ Annual Review of Social Partnerships, 12, 76-80.