Sub-theme 9. Conservation, environmental justice and the commons
Transformative interventions to strengthen biodiversity commons
Strengthening biodiversity commons – shared governance systems that sustain diversity of species, ecosystems, and nature as a whole – has so far received little attention in the commons scholarship and practice. Halting the alarming loss rates and enhancing biodiversity will require system-wide societal transformations, including changes at the institutional (e.g., policies, governance arrangements), but particularly at the deeper interpersonal (e.g., norms, interactions) and intrapersonal (e.g., mental models, values, behavior) levels. The panel calls for inputs that discuss tested and emerging forms of interventions necessary to trigger particularly deeper level transformations. We aim to discuss these interventions from the perspectives of sustainability and justice, particularly in terms of ensuring (1) that an impact from interventions is truly transformative and moves individuals and societies towards adequately valuing biodiversity, and (2) that interventions do not serve as a mechanism for stripping the long-standing rights of local and/or indigenous communities but in fact strengthen their roles and relationships with biodiversity and nature. The panel is interested in discussing inputs that may focus on case studies with interventions involving public, private, community actors, results from observational and experimental research on interventions, as well as insights from development aid projects, all with particular focus on their more fundamental and transformative impacts. Submissions with theoretical, methodological, and empirical focus, as well as based on a review of existing evidence, are equally welcome.
Panel 9.9. A
1. Understanding transformative interventions for biodiversity governance through Meadow’s leverage points and Williamson’s transaction costs
Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg, Germany
Addressing biodiversity challenges we face today will require transformations in the ways we govern our social-environmental systems. For that interventions that are aligned with the intended system level change or can trigger such change are particularly valuable. The goal of this research is to conceptualize behavioral and institutional interventions capable to trigger transformative shifts in complex social-environmental systems. I propose to extend the analysis of transformative change as suggested by Donella Meadows’ Leverage Points by integrating Oliver Williamson’s framework on transaction costs economics. I analyze the leverage points from behavioral and institutional change perspectives. Traditional interventions such as tax and subsidies, although are important to sustain development and solve capital-intensive environmental challenges, are limited in their potential to internalize new norms and change behavior sustainably. In contrast, at the other end of the spectrum are intent and mental models with their highest potential to change the system from within. I find that the arguments by Meadows are in line with the scholarship on multilevel governance and institutional path dependence, but fits particularly well Williamson’s conceptualization of transaction costs at four levels of social change. Williamson considers the highest level of institutions in the form of customs, norms, traditions to have pervasive long-term influence upon societies and economies, which correspond the leverage points oriented towards mental models or intent. The transaction costs perspective adds an important diagnostic, not prescriptive, value on feasibility of interventions for transformative change.
2. How transformative are ecosystem services and valuation methods as intervention for strengthening biodiversity commons? A systematic review of evidence
1Coventry University, UK, 2Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany
The concept of ecosystem services and their valuation have been used extensively as a means of demonstrating the immense value of biodiversity commons to policy-makers. Assessing ecosystem services and assigning an economic value to them has been thought of as the silver bullet expected to bring the breakthrough for biodiversity prioritization. The vast figures and values attributed to nature was thought to be capable of changing decision-makers’ rational minds to prioritize biodiversity in their agendas. However, to date, there has been limited research that explores how the focus on ecosystem services assessments (ESA) has impacted on policy. This understanding is sorely needed as, despite much discussion of ecosystem services, biodiversity loss continues. To understand how policy impact is considered in ESA research and what factors enable it, this paper presents the findings from a systematic review of 137 research articles investigating ESA at the EU level (the EU is considered the trailblazer of environmental policy in the international policy arena). Of the studies captured in the systematic review, ca. 48% of the assessments included monetary valuation methods, 62% involved experts’ or stakeholders and ca. 72% specifically referred to EU, regional, national, or local policy documents. We found that 8% of the articles reported on policy impact, whilst only 8% assessed the potential enabling and 2% the hindering factors of their research to influence policy. It was evident that economic valuation, although widely used, does not necessarily lead to a higher reported policy impact. On the other hand, wide stakeholder involvement was highlighted as a key element to reach impact.
3. A global meta-analysis of participatory governance assessments in conservation areas
1King’s College London, UK, 2International Institute for Environment and Development, UK
As we are setting ourselves targets for designating new areas to biodiversity conservation, at the same time, we recognise the importance of doing so under more effective and equitable governance than has seen the past. And to revisit how conservation is done where designations already exit.
The ‘site-level assessment for governance and equity’, SAGE for short, is a tool for site-level actors to evaluate the quality (i.e. effectiveness and equity) of governance at their conservation area, identify differences in opinions between the various actors, and discuss potential actions for improvement.
This presentation presents the findings of a first meta-analysis of 20+ SAGE assessments conducted worldwide. They cover diverse ecosystems and governance types, but all have in common that at least one actor is interested in improving governance and equity. This meta-analysis aims to uncover if there are, or not, any patterns in the identified challenges, in which actor types more commonly report such challenges, and most importantly, what the most common, practical or innovative ideas for action are.
4. Do multiple crises reduce individuals’ attention to biodiversity loss?
1Department of Agribusiness Management, Martin Luther University-Halle Wittenberg, Germany, 2Centre for Interdisciplinary Regional Studies, Martin Luther University-Halle Wittenberg, Germany, 3Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Food Policy, Martin Luther University-Halle Wittenberg, Germany
In order to mitigate the dramatic loss of biodiversity, it is necessary to develop a system-wide societal transformation that also includes a behavioral change at the individual level because systemic changes cannot be achieved without individual-level behavioral changes and support. Currently, people are facing a plurality of crises, including Covid-19 and the war in the Ukraine. To put it differently, biodiversity loss is only one of many crises individuals are currently facing. This study aims at analyzing to what extent individuals’ priority for biodiversity conservation is affected when people are reminded of other crises than biodiversity loss (Covid-19 and war in the Ukraine). In addition, we analyze whether subjects’ preferences are influenced when the crises are communicated in general or with a causal relationship between them. Observational studies often suffer from omitted variable bias and the problem of third variables. We overcome these challenges by conducting an information provision experiment in which people are systematically reminded of biodiversity loss and another crisis. Each subject is randomly assigned to one scenario (between-subject design). Our sample consists of a total of 1,000 subjects. They are quota-representative to the German population with regard to age, gender, and education. This study adds value to the literature by systematically analyzing how people deal with multiple crises. Since multiple crises can be viewed as the “new normal”, insights of this study help to better understand how people value biodiversity.
Panel 9.9. B
1. Governance of (mobile) Marine Protected Areas for marine predator conservation in the German North Sea
Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT), Germany
Marine ecosystems and biodiversity are embedded in complex socio-ecological systems and in the North Sea they are under extreme anthropogenic pressure from fishing, maritime transport, the construction of offshore windparks, habitat destruction and resource extraction. The increasing industrialization of the North Sea profoundly changes environmental conditions and challenges current processes of marine spatial planning. This results in trade-offs between conservation and use, and particularly impacts marine predators with migratory routes. Although special protection is in place for the only endemic whale species in the North Sea, the harbour porpoise (Phocoena Phocoena), its abundance is declining and their distribution shifting, which necessitates the urgent need for a transformative shift towards more dynamic and innovative conservation governance arrangements. This research therefore first assesses current governance structures in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the German North Sea, how they have evolved politically using a framework combining the Institutional Analysis and Development as well as the Socio-Ecological Systems framework, why they do not effectively fulfill their function as key regulatory instrument for harbour porpoise conservation and finally examines institutional and governance challenges that would need to be overcome for a potential establishment of mobile MPAs in the particular context of the North Sea. This study contributes to the wider academic debate on how to best shape effective marine predator conservation for ecosystem-based, adaptive and sustainable management. A comparative analysis of MPA governance approaches between conservation of marine predators in geographic regions with differing socio-economic conditions is envisaged.
2. Cross Sector Partnerships in Social Ecological Systems – Innovation for sustainable development
1Indian Institute of Management Sambalpur, India, 2Intellecap, India
In the age of Anthropocene, human led climate change has adversely affected the planetary boundaries. To mitigate the impact, it is crucial to understand the mutual linkages, synergies and impact in a social ecological system (SES). The research is an experimental case in cross sector partnership (CSP) for adaptive co-management of medicinal plants. Partnerships have been framed as innovative forms of governance that effectively address the governance, implementation and participation deficit in the global environmental politics (Haas, 2004). Partnership between an MNC, forest department, local tribal community, NGO and social enterprise for conservation, sustainable harvesting, processing, trading and regeneration of medicinal plant products (MPP) is successfully implemented in the state of Odisha (India). The case highlights biodiversity conservation and livelihood improvement of the forest dependent communities living on forest fringes. CSP addresses the sustainability agenda of the companies and opens a window of opportunity around CSR engagements for biodiversity conservation. The communities are trained on sustainable harvesting and primary value addition of MPP. Systems thinking framework is used to analyze the case and understand the context in terms of forest-based livelihoods, forest management discourse and corporate’s implementation of ESG and SDGs to strategically meet raw material needs. The findings articulate the socio-ecological impact of the experiment highlighting biodiversity conservation, livelihood enhancement and women empowerment. The paper discusses the resiliency of the CSP governance, the scale and replication of CSP in similar and different contexts and the power dynamics in the partnership ecosystems.
3. “Practitioners” perspective on educational methods and study tours as an intervention to strengthen local commons
CGE Erfurt e.V., Germany
“Practitioners” perspective in this case is based on several projects that were implemented in various forms of interventions (methods and tools) by German NGO, in different countries. The particularity of these cases – in comparison with typical “civil society capacity building” – is its focus not on external (often artificial and “alien” for local groups) institutional (infra) structures, but on the networks and relations between individuals and active groups. Main methods we applied in those cases, were discovery and mobilisation of internal expertise possessed by local grass-root activists, and implementation (by these people themselves with the support from the project organisers and mentors) of mechanisms allowing exchange of this expertise and building networks of collaboration
between the participants at regional level, thus creating a network of multipliers who can transform the way people behave, as a bottom-up approach, by learning how to establish dialogue processes, using non-formal education and peer-to-peer learning methods.
The Interventions were also based on the principles of peer to peer (p2p), “learning by doing” and the context of regional concern. The focus of this action was to avoid classical hierarchical system of distribution of knowledge – that is usually associated with “learning” in our recently-modern and fresh post-modern societies. We instead give a priority to the horizontal model of p2p learning.
4. Developing an experiential game to strengthen prioritization of biodiversity in decision-making
1Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg, Germany, 2Arizona State University, USA
In the biodiversity domain where actions of individual actors are not easily linked to the consequences of these actions, it is a particular challenge to prioritize biodiversity, especially in the face of tangible and short-term individual benefits. Complexity of the resource system, where causal processes have difficulty of attribution and are lengthy, makes monitoring and control of any external measures very costly. Hence, internalization of norms that improve prioritization of biodiversity in decision making despite the uncertainty inherent to complex systems are particularly important for sustaining biodiversity. Experiential behavioral games have been increasingly discussed in the commons literature as a promising intervention method to facilitate internalization of such norms through changes in mental models and social learning. Yet developing a game is both a theoretical and practical challenge on its own as decisions must be made on myriad features of a game that can influence its outcomes both within and beyond the game, ranging from those on game narrative and experience to those on game rules and importance of player attributes (see Falk et al. 2022). This contribution discusses the development of a game that aims to trigger change in mental models and norms in relation to biodiversity and agriculture, particularly focusing on identifying the key social dilemma within the game, addressing the complexity and uncertainty prominent in the biodiversity domain, and measuring the outcomes of the game in terms of their potential to translate from experiential to real-life action situations.