2017 Lund Conference on Earth System Governance

Allocation & Access in a Warming and Increasingly Unequal World

The Lund Conference on Earth System Governance is hosted by Lund University and jointly organised by the Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies (LUCSUS), Department of Political Science and the Earth System Governance Project. The conference coincides with celebrations of the 350th Anniversary of Lund University which will add extra festivity to the event.

The conference is part of the global series organised by the Earth System Governance Project. The first Earth System Governance conference was held in Amsterdam in December 2009 followed by Fort Collins (2011), Lund (2012), Tokyo (2013), Norwich (2014), Canberra (2015), and Nairobi (2016).

Vasna Ramsar
Conference Chair

Isabell Burian
Conference Manager

Balthazar Forsberg
Conference Coordinator

Charlotta Kjöllerström
Network Coordinator

Ruben Zondervan
Executive Director

Florian Carl
Side Event Coordinator

The Conference Streams

Stream 1: Environmental justice in earth system governance

We understand that governance structures and decisions affect the allocation of, and access to, environmental benefits and burdens. Impacts of global environmental change are experienced differently at the local level and are neither borne nor distributed equally within groups in society. Environmental quality has become closely tied to human equality through environmental justice. Environmental injustices pose significant governance challenges at the international, national and local levels and ultimately lead to widespread inequalities in society and across generations. In this stream, we invite contributions that address the procedural and distributional aspects of earth system governance. How does earth system governance across scales affect allocation and access of environmental benefits and burdens? Who is accountable for environmental justice and at what levels? What constitutes a just distribution of collective goods in a democratic society?

Stream 2: Conceptual understandings and progress

The 2017 conference will continue the discussion of our 2016 Nairobi conference on inequality and will now focus on conceptual understandings and progress on inequality in allocation and access. Inequality has many dimensions that range from procedural access and democratic aspects of legitimacy, transparency and accountability to consequences like distributive injustice or imbalances of environmental, social and economic outcomes. In this stream we return to some of the foundational questions of the Earth System Governance Science Plan: What is the relevance of questions of allocation and access to earth system governance? How can we reach agreement on interdisciplinary conceptualizations and definitions of allocation and access? What are the normative issues at stake in the relationship between environmental sustainability and social justice in earth system governance? What (overarching) principles underlie governance of allocation and access? How can allocation and access be reconciled with governance effectiveness?

Stream 3: Science and activism

An exciting new focus of the 2017 conference is to draw attention to the bifurcation between science and activism. In the era of ‘alternative facts’ and post-truth politics, arguably science has a more active role to play in engaging with political, social and environmental reforms. Social movements are emerging as a global force for social change and democratization, and the role of research and researchers deserves our attention. This stream invites deliberations on the role of science in politics. What is the role of science as such and the individual scientist in civic engagement and collective action? What are the strategies for science to engage more meaningfully with activism? Can engagement in activism undermine scientific credibility? What is the professional responsibility we have to use our scientific knowledge in the face of increasing global inequality and rapid environmental change?

Stream 4: Theory and Methodology

Theoretical and methodological pluralism is a part of earth system governance research, drawing from the social sciences as well as interdisciplinary approaches at the interface of social and natural sciences. In the context of an increasingly warming and unequal world, there is a challenge for theory and methodology development to address both sustainability and environmental justice while maintaining scientific quality and rigor. In this stream we seek to create a platform for the earth system governance community to engage in such theoretical and methodological inquiry. What theories are relevant for earth system governance in the current context? What are the most promising and innovative approaches to researching allocation and access across multiple scales of governance?

Stream 5: Earth system governance in turbulent times

With the rapid political, social and environmental changes currently occurring, we have seen new words entering the earth system governance lexicon, including political terms like Brexit, ‘alternative facts’, ‘Trumpism’ or ‘post-factual’, but also new terms stemming from the science community, such as Anthropocene. The shifting landscape of governance opens areas for new research as earth system governance must adapt to turbulent times, recognizing the extraordinary degree of harm that is possible, and that current governance systems might not be fully prepared for. We therefore invite papers that especially address this challenge. For example, what theoretical concepts, frameworks, and methodologies can be used to analyze and understand the current social, political and environmental landscape? In what ways do innovations or changes in governance arrangements produce more or less accountable, adaptive, accessible and equitable processes/outcomes? How is the agency of different actors shaping allocation and access in the Anthropocene?

Earth System Governance

A global research alliance

Earth System Governance is the largest social science research network in the area of governance and global environmental change. The Earth System Governance research alliance takes up the challenge of exploring political solutions and novel, more effective governance mechanisms to cope with the current transitions in the biogeochemical systems of the planet. The normative context of this research is sustainable development; earth system governance is not only a question of institutional effectiveness, but also of political legitimacy and social justice. The Earth System Governance Project is a core project of Future Earth.

Learn more about Earth System Governance here