Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

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Session Overview
Transformative interventions to strengthen prioritisation of biodiversity in decision making
Wednesday, 25/Oct/2023:
10:30am - 12:00pm

Session Chair: Ilkhom Soliev
Second Session Chair: Alex Franklin
Location: GR 1.109

Session Conference Streams:
Justice and Allocation

Third chair: Agnes Zolyomi

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Transformative interventions to strengthen prioritisation of biodiversity in decision making

Chair(s): Ilkhom Soliev (Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany), Alex Franklin (Coventry University, United Kingdom), Agnes Zolyomi (UNEP-WCMC, United Kingdom), Jeanne Nel (Wageningen University & Research)

Discussant(s): Rosalie van Dam (Wageningen University & Research)

Strengthening prioritisation of biodiversity in decision making to sustain diversity of species, ecosystems, and nature has become one of the most pressing social-environmental challenges of our time. 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 arguably more at the deeper interpersonal (e.g., norms, interactions), and intrapersonal (e.g., mental models, values, behaviour) levels. Driven by the Horizon Europe project PLANET4B, the panel brings together inputs that discuss tested and emerging forms of interventions necessary to trigger particularly deeper level transformations. We will discuss conceptual perspectives on understanding interventions and their transformative potential (esp., Leventon et al. and Karner et al.), as well as in particular detail using in-depth case studies (esp., Karner et al., Navarro Gambin et al., Home et al.). Overall, we will discuss the interventions from the perspectives of sustainability and justice, particularly in terms of ensuring (1) that an impact from interventions is truly transformative and fundamentally moves individuals and societies towards adequately valuing biodiversity in the long term, and (2) that interventions do not serve as a mechanism for stripping the rights and benefits of already disadvantaged individuals and communities but in fact strengthen their roles in decision-making related to biodiversity and nature. The panel unites interventions involving public, private, community actors, results from observational and experimental research on interventions, as well as insights from key sectors at the intersection with biodiversity (food, agriculture, fashion, education, etc.), all with particular focus on their more fundamental and transformative impacts. Furthermore, the panel aims to support discussions in other panels relevant to these subjects by active exchange and participation (agreed collaboration on interventions with the innovative panel “It’s all in the game”).



Systemic transformation for biodiversity: what intervention, in which system and for what purpose?

Julia Leventon, Simon Vaňo, Blanka Loučková, Patricia Ofori-Amanfo
Institute of Global Change Research of the Czech Academy of Sciences, CzechGlobe

Creating sustainable futures requires changes in individual behaviour, and in the systems that shape these behaviours. Changes to individual actions is insufficient without bigger changes to the economic, political and social systems that shape and constrain them. A growing number of scholars emphasize a need to work across all sites of behaviour change from individual to systemic levels to promote sustainable behaviour. Thus, interventions are needed that consider multiple levels of decision-making, spanning individuals, communities, local, regional, national and international policy. To do so, questions of power and the structures that reinforce power and thus shape opportunities to create or enact change must be addressed. Further, there are important questions of scale, including how to unlock shifts at multiple levels, and over a greater number of people. Systems thinking, and associated concepts such as leverage points (after Donella Meadows), have become popular in transformative change research. Systems thinking can be used as an organizing framework to consider questions of scaling and considering how individual change is embedded within broader political and power systems. Leverage points are increasingly being used as boundary objects, particularly in social ecological systems research, to explore interventions for sustainability in place-based systems. Aiming at the most effective leverage points has the greatest tendency to transform our world into a more sustainable state. However, systems thinking can be broadly split into two categories – ontological, where a system is a real object to unpack and design interventions; and epistemological, where systems thinking is an approach to unpack complexity. We argue that current dominant narratives in the biodiversity literature tend towards framing systems as defined objects with mechanistic understandings of leverage points. We do not wish to denigrate such approaches, but rather position these within more reflexive approaches that allow us to make explicit systems of power, politics and normativity. Within our paper, we draw on a range of example cases from the PLANET4B project. Using a critical, reflexive approach to systems thinking, we consider how the case seeks to intervene, in which systems, and with what implications for biodiversity conservation and restoration.


Using an intersectional lens in co-developing interventions to strengthen the ‘BioDiverse Edible City’ concept in Graz, Austria

Sandra Karner, Anita Thaler, David Steinwender
IFZ – Interdisciplinary Research Centre for Technology, Work and Culture, Graz, Austria

We use intersectionality as a theoretical concept that sheds light on structural inequities in societies to inform research at the intersection of food and biodiversity. Ensuring access to good food for all inevitably tackles questions of food justice, social justice and social inclusion, which implies to acknowledge the diversity of needs and abilities of people. Likewise, it has been argued, for example in the context of Ecofeminism and Social Ecology research, that looking at biodiversity is inseparable from looking at the diversity of human communities. In a case study from Graz, Austria, we apply intersectionality as a theoretical point of reflexivity and a methodological tool to strengthen the ‘BioDiverse Edible City’ concept. The aim of this concept is to establish an urban foodscape that is based on democracy, social inclusion and adequately sustained biodiversity. In the PLANET4B project, a living lab will be set up to define this concept, to elaborate a tailored set of interventions and roadmap for its implementation, and to implement first pilot activities in practice. To transform elitist approaches of edible city activities, PLANET4B will reach out to vulnerable groups. Intersectionality will be used as a method to make this research inclusive by integrating inequality-generating categories of gender, class, and race in using a simplified approach of Degele and Winker‘s multi-level analysis. Initiatives at the intersection of food and biodiversity often lack social diversity, which is well documented in the literature, but little is known about the interventions to foster inclusion. To fill this gap, we are developing an organisational model for a multi-actor food cooperative that is expected to allow for more social inclusiveness, participatory decision making, and thereby fostering access to good food for all. The initial model was co-developed based on group discussions, various workshops, systematisation of experiences, cooking events, an exhibition, ‘food stories’, and validated by involved actors. The model has a modular structure, which allows for being adapted to individual needs and contexts. Thus it can be applied in socioeconomically and culturally heterogeneous environments as well as in deprived neighbourhoods. Thereby the model will represent a central cornerstone for covering the food justice related aims of the ‘BioDiverse Edible City’ concept, which combines in this case study access to sustainable food and a social justice philosophy. The paper will outline how the applied intersectionality approach supported transformations for a sustainable urban food scape framed within a ‘BioDiverse Edible City’ concept.


Understanding interventions for pro-biodiversity behaviour in a sectoral context: An example of the Tuscan textile, apparel, and fashion industries

Pedro Navarro Gambin1, Marta Bonetti2, Roberto Gronda2, Matteo Villa2, Gianluca Brunori1, Daniele Vergamini1
1Pisa Agricultural Economics (PAGE), Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy, 2Department of Political Sciences, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy

Textile, apparel, and fashion (TAF) industries are significant contributors to global biodiversity loss through their multitude of negative impacts on natural ecosystems and their services. These impacts are distributed across the supply chain of production, processing, consumption, and product end life. Production of cotton, viscose, modal, rayon, lyocell, wool, and leather drives vast land-use changes (deforestation) and excessive water consumption that together with intensive pesticide use have a serious impact on biodiversity. TAF industries account for 20% of global water pollution, which changes the ecosystems by means of the acidification and eutrophication. While the environmental impacts of TAF industries in the global supply chains have been widely addressed in the existing literature, such research with focus on biodiversity is scant. National and regional governments also struggle to set reliable priorities and develop interventions capable of fostering transformations towards sustainability in TAF industries. This study examines the examples of Prato (Tuscany), the largest textile centre in Europe (yarns and woollen fabrics), and Santa Croce, a globally recognised location for leather production. The main strategy of both the public authorities and the key actors of the TAF system here has mainly focused on "ensuring sustainable production and consumption patterns" (most recently driven by Sustainable Development Goal 12) with little or no link to biodiversity. The regional biodiversity strategy, for example, does not address impacts of TAF industries beyond the regional boundaries resulting from raw material sourcing choices. There are however several initiatives led by luxury brands and multinationals whose objectives and actions, as well as impacts around biodiversity is yet to be studied. We apply a mixed qualitative research approach to understand more global - political (international norms, path dependencies) – and more local - behavioural (cognitive, social, dispositional) - factors hindering prioritisation of biodiversity in the sustainability agenda of the sector. Through a discourse analysis and a series of in-depth interviews as part of PLANET4B project, we uncover the meaning of key TAF actors’ behaviour, as defined from their own point of view. How do they value some of the most-widespread policy interventions (including labels and certifications) for transforming attitudes towards biodiversity across the supply chain? To what extent is the distribution of benefits and costs perceived equitable? Results will allow us to holistically understand pro-biodiversity behaviour in its social context and generate further research questions to define potential interventions and understand how they might be applicable in other contexts.


Aligning agri-environmental programmes with farmers' attitudes to unlock transformative change: a target-oriented biodiversity promotion in the Canton of Zurich, Switzerland

Robert Home, Olivia Keller, Rebekka Frick
Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL)

Agri-environmental schemes are a common policy intervention for addressing biodiversity loss in European agricultural landscapes. In such schemes, farmers receive subsidies in exchange for installing habitat elements or for reserving some of their land as an ecological compensation area. However, the standardised systems encourage farmers to base their implementation decisions on maximising subsidies while minimising disruption and inconvenience: neither of which are included in the goals of the schemes. In turn, the changes brought about by these schemes remains largely marginal and hardly transformative. This contribution describes an agri-environmental scheme that has been piloted in Canton Zürich, Switzerland and which aims to motivate farmers to include biodiversity outcomes as a criterion in their implementation decisions. In the program, farmers, in collaboration with ecological advisors, decide on site-specific and targeted measures to promote biodiversity on their farms, with subsidies connected to achievement of negotiated biodiversity outcomes. Thus, the participants of the experimental pilot had a direct decision-making power aligned with the already existing incentive structures of the schemes. To evaluate how the new program is perceived, which could inform the strategy to upscale following the pilot phase and further to be examined as part of PLANET4B, we interviewed the 29 participating farmers and asked questions about their motivations and experiences. The results show overall positive experiences, with the new subsidy system perceived to be aligned with the farmers’ self-image as producers. In particular, there was support for incorporating farmers' knowledge and enabling the implementation of site-adapted measures. Such direct participation seems to be considered equitable too, generally empowering the affected actors by the policy instrument. The advice was also perceived by farmers as having a positive influence on ecological outcomes, contributing to their sustainability, and potentially unlocking the initially intended transformations in the sector. The results suggest that the targeted promotion of biodiversity where incentives within policy interventions are aligned with internalisation of norms is a promising approach to counteract the loss of biodiversity in agricultural areas.

Mainstreaming Global Biodiversity Targets in Sectoral Action: ‘What Works, How and Why?’

Hens Runhaar1, Yves Zinngrebe2

1Utrecht University, the Netherlands; 2Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Germany

The ongoing loss in nature and biodiversity due to human activity, exacerbated by climate change, is one of the most pressing sustainability challenges today. Governments and companies have committed themselves to contributing to global biodiversity targets, as defined by the Kunming Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs; particularly SDG14 Life Below Water and SGD15 Life on Land).

For actual biodiversity recovery, targets do not suffice. It is crucial that national governments as well as private companies integrate or ‘mainstream’ these targets in sectoral policies and plans and implement concrete measures. Such policy integration in, for instance, the food and transport sectors, is considered a promising governance approach, because it can directly address the driving forces of biodiversity loss. In fact, this is also what the GBF aims for. complements targets on more classical biodiversity governance such as the management of protected areas and endangered species with requirements for sector policies governing resource and land use, as well as underlying drivers including food systems, consumption, energy or finance flows.

In this paper, we are synthesising results of a special issue in the Earth System Governance journal that aims to further our understanding of how and to what extent the adoption of biodiversity targets in public and private sectoral policies ‘works’ in terms of implementation and results. By discussing and complimenting these findings in light of the scientific debate, we provide in-depth insights into the critical enablers, barriers and challenges that facilitate or impede a stronger integration. The focus is on national policies and private initiatives beyond the individual company level (except for when this has sector-wide implications).

The questions that we address are the following:

  1. In what ways have global biodiversity targets been integrated in public and private sectoral policies and plans, from policy formulation to implementation?
  2. What factors explain the degree and results of integration and implementation of biodiversity targets in terms of their (potential) contribution to biodiversity recovery, and what explains the emergence or absence of these factors?

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