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Taskforce on the Governance of Nature and Biodiversity


Aims and scope

The ongoing loss of nature and biodiversity due to human activity, exacerbated by climate change, is one of the most pressing sustainability challenges today. The Earth System Governance Taskforce on the Governance of Nature and Biodiversity, first convened in 2021, seeks to bring together, build and lead a community of social scientists in response to this challenge. Taking the 2018-2028 Science & Implementation Plan of the Earth System Governance Project as a point of departure, the Taskforce will interrogate research questions in all analytical dimensions of the ESG framework and applying it on investigating the governance of biodiversity and nature.

The traditional way to contribute to nature and biodiversity is through conservation: establishing and managing nature reserve areas. Although conservation as a form of governance continues to have strong political support, it also has been criticised because it often does not target the driving forces of loss in nature and biodiversity, e.g. agricultural intensification. In 2022, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will adopt a new Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) with a set of targets to be implemented by its parties. Hence, almost all countries will look for knowledge on how to make implementation work. A central aspect here will be a stronger mainstreaming of biodiversity concerns in sectors such as agriculture, fisheries and forestry and the policies that regulate these sectors, which is still hampered by institutional barriers, institutional path-dependencies and political opposition. While a growing debate on policy integration and policy coherence attests fragmented governance systems across political sectors and levels, there is still a strong uncertainty about underlying barriers and potential driving forces for political leadership and synergies.

More recently a radical transformation of institutions is advocated in order to ensure long-term biodiversity recovery. At the same time, we witness new forms and modes of governing nature and biodiversity. There is an increased interest in urban nature, albeit often not primarily aimed at the enhancement of biodiversity. New concepts and approaches have been introduced that aim to reconcile the protection of nature with economic and social benefits, e.g. ‘eco-engineering’, ‘nature-based solutions’, ‘natural capital’, ‘agroforestry’ etc.

The Earth System Governance Taskforce on the Governance of Nature and Biodiversity seeks to bring together a diverse set of social science researchers working on the governance of nature from a variety of disciplines. Areas of interest include, but are not limited to, subjects and meanings associated with nature and biodiversity and their implications, new forms of governance such as ‘telecoupling governance’ and public-private partnerships; effectiveness of public and private governance arrangements; legitimacy and contestation; actor networks, power and accountability; and science-policy interfaces.

Organisation of the Taskforce

The Taskforce organised its first meeting at the 2021 Bratislava Conference on Earth System Governance, where it also hosted Full Panels and an Innovative Session. The Taskforce is still ‘under construction’. At the moment we work with a number of working groups, each with their own focus of research. The Taskforce is oriented toward facilitating, producing and exchanging knowledge via different means and forums, for example through organise interdisciplinary panels and workshops at annual Earth System Governance Conferences and beyond, engaging with relevant practitioners and policymakers in respect to specific science-policy interfaces, hosting get-togethers and early career events, and engaging in joint research intended to be published as either Special Issues, element volumes or edited books.

Interested in joining the Taskforce?

For more information about joining the Taskforce, please contact the Taskforce convenors:


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