Second Intake 2021

2021 Bratislava Conference on Earth System Governance

Earth System Governance in turbulent times: prospects for behavioral and political responses

Bratislava, Slovak University of Technology September 7-9, 2021

We are delighted to invite you to the 2021 Bratislava Conference on Earth System Governance, which is planned to be held in Bratislava, the Slovak Republic and accessible virtually.

The 2021 Bratislava Conference builds upon the preparations for the 2020 Bratislava Conference, which was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Moving forward, we recognize the importance of continued knowledge advancement in Earth System Governance research, and for additional opportunity to address the turbulent times of 2020. To this end, we are launching a second intake of Abstracts to complement the initial Call for Papers.

The 2021 Bratislava Conference is hosted by SLOVAKGLOBe, Slovak Academy of Sciences and Slovak University of Technology, Bratislava and the CETIP with the Earth System Governance Project. As organizers, we understand that on-site participation is desired by many within the Earth System Governance community, but possibilities for attendance may be limited by the current uncertainty related to travel or public health concerns. Therefore, the 2021 Bratislava Conference on Earth System Governance will be planned as a hybrid conference, with both on-site attendance and virtual access.

The 2021 Bratislava Conference stands in a long tradition of global conferences on earth system governance, from Amsterdam (2007 and 2009) to Colorado (2011), Lund (2012), Tokyo (2013), Norwich (2014), Canberra (2015), Nairobi (2016), Lund (2017), Utrecht (2018), Oaxaca (2019), Virtual Forum (2020).

Key dates

  • Deadline for paper and full panels, second intake: 15 February 2021
  • Deadline for Innovative Sessions: 1 March, 2021
  • Deadline for Taskforce & Meeting Day sessions: 1 March 2021
  • Notification of acceptance, second intake:  31 March  2021
  • Full papers due: 22 August 2021

Conference Streams

The 2021 Bratislava Conference will be organized around the five analytical lenses structuring the new earth system governance research agenda, as captured in the 2018 Earth System Governance Science and Implementation Plan; and a sixth stream focusing on specific issues and challenges concerning the current moment of crisis, contestation, and calls for action across the globe. Additional abstracts addressing topics related to recent societal turbulence (e.g. Covid19, geopolitical developments, among others) can be submitted across all of the six conference streams:

Architecture and Agency. We invite papers that address institutional frameworks and actors implicated in earth system governance and how these institutions and actors resist or respond to change and evolve over time. Core questions include: How are environmental issues influenced by complex global networks across sectors, scales and decision-making arenas? What are the implications for earth system governance of growing diversities and power disparities among agents? What forms of architecture and agency are most effective in earth system governance across scales? Which changes and new developments of global governance architecture are needed to address the challenges posed by contemporary global environmental change?

Democracy and Power. We invite papers that address how old and new conceptions of democracy and power can make sense of, and craft responses to, trends in collective problem-solving in earth system governance in particular in respect to transition to new democracies in Europe and globally. Core questions include: What is the nature of the relationship between democracy and sustainability in earth system governance? Does the Anthropocene exacerbate existing power inequalities or create new opportunities for the legitimate exercise of power? How do power asymmetries in earth system governance affect management of natural resources? Can community regimes and collective actions such commons foster transformations towards sustainable and low carbon economy across scales?

Justice and Allocation. We invite papers that normatively or empirically address the justice and allocation of resources, rights and access in earth system governance. Core questions include: which new demands for justice and allocation are emerging in the context of profound transformations of the earth system? What types of steering have been effective towards implementing various conceptions of justice and allocation? Who bears the costs and benefits of transformations towards sustainability and how are rights and livelihoods affected?

Anticipation and Imagination. We invite papers that address how to govern proliferating anticipation processes that seek to imagine and govern future sustainability challenges, as well as how anticipation and imagination themselves become sites of politics. Core questions include: How do processes of anticipation and imagination interact with each other in shaping efforts to steer societies towards more sustainable futures? What kinds of institutions and practices underpin processes of anticipation and imagination? To what extent are ongoing processes of anticipation legitimate and inclusive, and what are their geopolitical implications? Which are the most relevant differences in the processes/capacities of anticipation and imagination among different actors and groups?

Adaptiveness and Reflexivity. We invite papers that address how societies can navigate change towards global sustainability in adaptive and reflexive ways, such as supporting the sustainable provision of ecosystem services and adapting to climate change over both the short and long-term. Core questions include: How can adaptiveness and reflexivity as qualities of earth system governance be assessed and compared? What kind of governance attributes (e.g. polycentricity or centralization, market or hybrid, flexibility or stability) are best suited to cultivating adaptiveness and reflexivity? Which factors enhance or hinder adaptiveness and reflexivity in diverse cultural and economic contexts? Do socio-environmental conflicts and social movements favor or halt adaptiveness and reflexivity?

Governance intervention and social actions for behavioral change to sustainability. We invite papers that address how governance intervention and purposeful change in societal behavior may be realized in order to navigate towards improved global sustainability. This is especially timely in light of multiple colliding ecological, social, health and political crises, and growing calls for transformative change in many spheres of human activity. Core questions include: What types of governance intervention and societal action are needed to trigger behavioral change across multiple levels (local to global), and what are the opportunities, barriers, and trade-offs involved?Through which mechanisms and pathways, and under which conditions, are such interventions and actions realized? What are the consequences of different forms of governance and policy intervention and social action (e.g. for society, politics, and the environment), and what, therefore, are the implications for enhancing global sustainability in diverse cultural and economic contexts?

Types of Proposals

Individual Paper

We invite submissions of abstracts of up to 400 words that address either the main conference theme; one or more of the six conference streams; or any other topic that is relevant to the Earth System Governance Project. All abstracts will be anonymized and evaluated in double-blind peer- review.

Please submit your abstracts here

Please note that for the second intake of Abstracts, the number of papers we can accept may be limited. Priority will be given to thematic relevance and timeliness of proposed topics, within broader considerations of scientific quality.

Full Panels

We also invite panel proposals that address the main conference theme, one or more of the six conference streams, or any other topic relevant to the Earth System Governance Project.

Panel proposals must include a description of the panel (300 words or less), 4-5 abstracts (each up to 400 words), as well as the name of a chair and a discussant. We kindly ask you to include title, text and abstract submission ID (received via submission portal) in the proposal. Please note that all full panels abstracts will be evaluated individually for each session  in the double-blind peer-review of the conference, with the possible outcome that only some papers submitted for a panel might be accepted. Only panels with three or more accepted papers will be included in the programme. If fewer than three papers for the panel are accepted, we will advise the panel proposer’ with the option that accepted papers can be integrated into other panels.

Panel proposals and abstracts need to be submitted via email to Those who are submitting an abstract for a specific panel must still submit their abstract in this way.

The abstracts needs to be submitted via the website but the panel proposal needs to be emailed to the conference organizing team:

Innovative Sessions

This year, innovative sessions will be in a digital format. We welcome proposals for non-traditional sessions, such as roundtables (which may include policy-makers, academics, or representatives of social movements and non-governmental organizations), World Cafes, Pecha Kucha presentations, Hyde Park Corner Debates, policy games, book launches, and book seminars (that may discuss recently published academic works in the field). These sessions may also be innovative in terms of stimulating discussion and debate on topics not typically considered by earth system governance scholars, but which the proposers demonstrate are likely to be highly relevant to core issues within the community. All non-traditional sessions can be proposed directly to the conference organizers by e-mail: This year, the Innovative Sessions will take place in a virtual format, with on-site participation facilitated. Proposals should include a description of the session (1 page) and a list of participants and be submitted by 1 March 2021. Proposals will be reviewed by the conference organizers.

All non-traditional sessions can be proposed directly to the conference organizers by e-mail:

Proposals should include a description of the session (1 page) and a list of participants and be submitted by 1 March 2021. Please specify how your session can be accessible digitally. Proposals will be reviewed by the conference organizers.

The Taskforce Meeting Day on 10 September

On Friday, 10 September, extensive meeting space will be provided for back-to-back events of our Project’s Taskforces and Affiliated Projects, as well as early-career workshops, author writing retreats, planning sessions, workshops on teachings and methods, and similar events.

Suggestions for such meetings can be submitted to by 1 March 2020. 

We will ensure wide dissemination of the events through our network, and assist with formal registration. All interested conference participants can select the event they plan to participate in through the conference registration form.

Autumn School on Earth System Governance

We plan to organize an autumn school on Earth System Governance directly prior to the conference. More information will be announced soon at the conference website.

Field Trips

The conference will offer field trips for on-site attendees. More information will be announced soon at the conference website.

Additional information

The organizers are undertaking all efforts to host an event which adheres the latest public health advice.

Details on abstract submission and answers to frequently asked questions will be available at our conference website:

We look forward to welcoming you to Bratislava in September 2021!


SLOVAKGLOBe Slovak Academy of Sciences and Slovak University of Technology, Bratislava, CETIP  and the Earth System Governance Project.

Conference Chair

Tatiana Kluvánková, SLOVAKGLOBe Slovak Academy of Sciences and Slovak University of Technology, Bratislava, CETIP

Programme Committee

  • Sarah Burch, University of Waterloo, Canada
  • Lorraine Elliott, Australian National University, Australia
  • Aarti Gupta, Wageningen University, The Netherlands
  • Cristina Yumie Aoki Inoue, University of Brasilia, Brazil
  • Atsushi Ishii, Tohoku University, Japan
  • Agni Kalfagianni, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
  • James Meadowcroft, Carleton University, Canada
  • David Nguatha Mungai, University of Nairobi, Kenya
  • James Patterson, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
  • Åsa Persson, Stockholm Environment Institute, Sweden
  • Jonathan Pickering, University of Canberra, Australia
  • Stanislava Brnkalakova, SLOVAKGLOBe Slovak Academy of Sciences and Slovak University of Technology, Bratislava, CETIP
  • Martin Spacek, CETIP
  • Daniela Špirkova, Slovak University of Technology

Organizing Committee

  • Ivana Vybochova, SLOVAKGLOBe Slovak Academy of Sciences and Slovak University
  • Julius Golej, Slovak University of Technology, Bratislava, CETIP
  • Gustav Thungren, Managing Director, Earth System Governance Project, Utrecht University
  • Jane Butler, Science & Communication Officer, Earth System Governance Project, Utrecht University


Twitter: #ESG2021