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Task Force on Conceptual Foundations of Earth System Governance


See the Task Force Website for frequently updated information.

The Taskforce on Conceptual Foundations of Earth System Governance explores key ideas that are coming to frame international discussion of the challenge of governance in times of global environmental change and earth system transformation. It is concerned with understanding, refining and critically interrogating concepts that increasingly provide the foundation for contemporary theory and practice in the environmental domain.

Major political and social change is typically accompanied by innovation in the thought categories we use to make sense of the world, frame arguments, organize collective action, and establish new institutional practices. Looking at things in new ways can allow us to do things in new ways. So at a time when human societies are placing ever greater stress on global ecosystems, and are only beginning to appreciate what it would mean to move onto a more sustainable development trajectory, we need to devote critical efforts to examining and further refining novel governance ideas.

The taskforce is an international research collaborative with a series of working groups focused on particular ideas or idea clusters. Scholars from different regions, disciplines and career stages are involved in a combined effort to make sense of contemporary environmental problems and to build new governance institutions suited to promoting sustainability in the twenty-first century.

On the Task Force’s website you can find frequently updated information about the working groups, the different concepts and the taskforce’s activities including newly published papers and ongoing projects.

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Recent publications

Portrait of a climate city: How climate change is emerging as a risk in Bergen, Norway

Climate change is dramatically shifting the way cities interpret and live with their local climate. This paper analyses how climate…

From Sustainable Development to Earth System Governance – a view from the South

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Earth System Governance: People, Places and the Planet. Science and Implementation Plan of the Earth System Governance Project

Download the science plan in English, Japanese or Spanish [PDF] In Humans now influence all biological and physical systems of the planet.…