Earth System Governance Project

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The Earth System Governance Project[1] is a long-term, interdisciplinary social science research programme developed under the auspices of the International Human Dimensions program on Global Environmental Change, and started January 2009. It will conclude in 2018.

The Earth System Governance Project currently consists of a network of ca. 300 active and about 1.700 indirectly involved scholars from all continents, and is the largest social science research network in the area of governance and global environmental change.

The aim of the Earth System Governance Project is to address with cutting-edge science the large, complex challenge of governance in the face of intensifying global environmental change and earth system transformation, and to create a better understanding of the role of institutions, organizations and governance mechanisms by which humans currently regulate their relationship with the natural environment and global biochemical systems.

The Earth System Governance Project organizes its research according to a conceptual framework,[2] guided by the five analytical problems of earth system governance (the 5A’s). These are the problems of the overall architecture of earth system governance, of agency beyond the state and of the state, of the adaptiveness of governance mechanisms and processes, of their accountability and legitimacy and of modes of allocation and access in earth system governance.

The concept of Earth System Governance is defined as:

... the interrelated and increasingly integrated system of formal and informal rules, rule-making systems, and actor-networks at all levels of human society (from local to global) that are set up to steer societies towards preventing, mitigating, and adapting to global and local environmental change and, in particular, earth system transformation, within the normative context of sustainable development.[3]

Origin and history[edit]

In 2001, the four global change programmes (DIVERSITAS, International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme, World Climate Research Programme, and International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change) agreed to intensify co-operation through setting up an overarching Earth System Science Partnership. The research communities represented in this Partnership contend in the 2001 Amsterdam Declaration on Global Change[4] that the earth system now operates ‘well outside the normal state exhibited over the past 500,000 years’ and that ‘human activity is generating change that extends well beyond natural variability—in some cases, alarmingly so— and at rates that continue to accelerate.’ To cope with this challenge, the four global change research programmes have called ‘urgently’ for ‘an ethical framework for global stewardship and strategies for Earth System management’.[5]

In March 2007, in response to the 2001 Amsterdam Declaration, the Scientific Committee of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP), the overarching social science programme in the field, mandated the drafting of the Science Plan of the Earth System Governance Project by a newly appointed Scientific Planning Committee.

The Earth System Governance Project builds on the results of an earlier long-term research programme, the IHDP core project Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change (IDGEC).

In 2008, the Earth System Governance Project officially launched during a reception in New Delhi, India, where the synthesis results from its preceding research project (Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change - IDGEC) were presented[6]

In 2009, the Science and Implementation Plan[7] of the Earth System Governance Project was published. In the science and implementation plan, the conceptual problems, cross-cutting themes, flagship projects, and its policy relevance are outlined in detail. The Science Plan was written by the international, interdisciplinary Scientific Planning Committee, which drew on a consultative process that started in 2004. Several working drafts of this Science Plan have been presented and discussed at a series of international events and conferences, and numerous scholars in the field, as well as practitioners, have offered suggestions, advice, and critique.

Global research network[edit]

For its activities and implementation, the Earth System Governance Project relies on a global network that reflects the interdisciplinary, international, and multi-scale challenge of its research agenda. To this end, the project has built a global network that includes following groups:

  • Scientific Steering Committee - The Earth System Governance Project operates under the direction of a Scientific Steering Committee. The role of the Scientific Steering Committee is to guide the implementation of the Earth System Governance Science Plan.
  • Lead Faculty - The Lead Faculty of the Earth System Governance Project is a group of individual scientists of high international reputation who will take over (shared) responsibility for the development of research.
  • Research Fellows, and Senior Research Fellows - Earth System Governance Fellows are early to mid-level career colleagues who seek to link their own research projects with the broader themes and questions advanced by the Earth System Governance Science and Implementation Plan.
  • An important element in the project organisation is the global alliance of research centres that includes the VU University Amsterdam; the Australian National University; Chiang Mai University; Colorado State University; Lund University; University of East Anglia; University of Oldenburg; the Stockholm Resilience Centre and the Tokyo Institute of Technology. Strong networks on earth system governance research are also emerging in China, Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, India, and Latin America.

Conferences[edit]

Since 2007, several scientific conferences have addressed the topics of governance and global environmental change. These include, but are not limited to:[8]

Publications[edit]

The network of researchers affiliated with the Earth System Governance Project has published numerous reports and books, and has published widely in journals such as International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics; Ecological Economics; Global Environmental Change; Environmental Science & Policy; Global Environmental Politics; and Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability. A related MIT Press Book series on earth system governance is designed to address the research challenge of earth system governance. Additionally, the Project publishes regular Working Papers, which are peer-reviewed online publications that broadly address questions raised by the Project’s Science and Implementation Plan. Several special issues of topics related to earth system governance have been published in scientific journals over the last years:

Teaching Earth System Governance[edit]

Earth system governance as a research object is quickly emerging, and as a consequence, the number of academic programmes on bachelor, master and doctoral level related to earth system governance steadily increases. A number of institutes and universities currently collaborate in a Global Alliance of Earth System Governance Research Centres. The educational programmes these universities offer, include, but are not limited to:[9]

A substantial amount of the workshops and other events of the project are so called capacity-building activities.

Initiatives[edit]

In 2011, the Earth System Governance Project launched an initiative on International Environmental Governance. This initiative aims to provide a forum for synthesis and discussion of current and ongoing research on international environmental governance and the institutional framework for sustainable development, in the period leading up to the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, also known as ‘Rio + 20’.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1] Biermann, Frank, Michele M. Betsill, Joyeeta Gupta, Norichika Kanie, Louis Lebel, Diana Liverman, Heike Schroeder, and Bernd Siebenhüner, with contributions from Ken Conca, Leila da Costa Ferreira, Bharat Desai, Simon Tay, and Ruben Zondervan. 2009. Earth System Governance: People, Places and the Planet. Science and Implementation Plan of the Earth System Governance Project. Earth System Governance Report 1, IHDP Report 20. Bonn, IHDP: The Earth System Governance Project.
  2. ^ [2] Frank Biermann, Michele M. Betsill, Joyeeta Gupta, Norichika Kanie, Louis Lebel, Diana Liverman, Heike Schroeder, Bernd Siebenhüner and Ruben Zondervan. 2010. Earth system governance: a research framework. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law, and Economics. Vol 10. Nr 4.
  3. ^ [3] Biermann, Frank, Michele M. Betsill, Joyeeta Gupta, Norichika Kanie, Louis Lebel, Diana Liverman, Heike Schroeder, and Bernd Siebenhüner, with contributions from Ken Conca, Leila da Costa Ferreira, Bharat Desai, Simon Tay, and Ruben Zondervan. 2009. Earth System Governance: People, Places and the Planet. Science and Implementation Plan of the Earth System Governance Project. Earth System Governance Report 1, IHDP Report 20. Bonn, IHDP: The Earth System Governance Project.
  4. ^ [4]
  5. ^ [5] Biermann, Frank, Michele M. Betsill, Joyeeta Gupta, Norichika Kanie, Louis Lebel, Diana Liverman, Heike Schroeder, and Bernd Siebenhüner, with contributions from Ken Conca, Leila da Costa Ferreira, Bharat Desai, Simon Tay, and Ruben Zondervan. 2009. Earth System Governance: People, Places and the Planet. Science and Implementation Plan of the Earth System Governance Project. Earth System Governance Report 1, IHDP Report 20. Bonn, IHDP: The Earth System Governance Project. p.13
  6. ^ [6] Young, Oran., Heike Schroeder and Leslie A. King (editors). 2008. Institutions and Environmental Change: Principal Findings, Applications, and Research Frontiers. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  7. ^ [7] Biermann, Frank, Michele M. Betsill, Joyeeta Gupta, Norichika Kanie, Louis Lebel, Diana Liverman, Heike Schroeder, and Bernd Siebenhüner, with contributions from Ken Conca, Leila da Costa Ferreira, Bharat Desai, Simon Tay, and Ruben Zondervan. 2009. Earth System Governance: People, Places and the Planet. Science and Implementation Plan of the Earth System Governance Project. Earth System Governance Report 1, IHDP Report 20. Bonn, IHDP: The Earth System Governance Project.
  8. ^ Earth System Governance Project: Events. Website accessed 24 November 2011.
  9. ^ Earth System Governance Project: Teaching. Website accessed 24 November 2011.

External links[edit]

Related projects[edit]