Call for papers: International workshop on ecosystem management and environmental justice: Mapping the linkages

International workshop at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK, 12-13 October 2015
The workshop
Research in the environmental sciences pays increasing attention to justice in ecosystem management. Most commonly, this takes the form of asking about the outcomes of ecosystem management, particularly with regard to the distribution of social outcomes (e.g. are benefits and burdens distributed in an equitable manner?). For example, the Future Earth programme seeks to identify ‘sustainable development pathways linking economic prosperity with social justice and a healthy biosphere’ (2014). Others employ the concept of ‘safe and just operating space’ to refer to ecosystem management that remains within planetary boundaries and meets the needs of the contemporary population (Raworth 2012, Dearing et al. 2014).
This workshop explores how environmental justices and injustices result from and/or influence ecosystem management, i.e. ‘justice as effect’ as well as ‘justice as motive’. It calls upon researchers to go beyond understanding justice as a goal and criterion for evaluating outcomes to additionally consider how ecosystem management practices are influenced by concerns over particular injustices and by motivations to act in a way understood to be just. It also seeks to entice researchers to attend to the whole range of justice concerns beyond distributive matters, i.e. examine aspects of participation (e.g. who has a say in decision-making?) and recognition (e.g. whose collective histories, identities and values are acknowledged?).
The questions to be examined at the workshop include:
  • What are the linkages between environmental (in)justice and ecosystem management?
  • How can we operationalize environmental (in)justice beyond a focus on distribution?
  • What would ‘just ecosystem management’ entail?
  • What is the evidence for the effects of particular (in)justices on ecosystem management and its ecological and social outcomes?
Keynote speakers
  • Neil Burgess, UNEP – World Conservation Monitoring Centre
  • Sharad Lele, Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment
  • Jouni Paavola, University of Leeds
  • Terre Satterfield, University of British Columbia
  • Bhaskar Vira, University of Cambridge
Paper proposals
We invite open-minded environmental researchers from multiple disciplinary backgrounds to contribute short presentations to an interdisciplinary dialogue and collective brainstorming on the linkages between ecosystem management and environmental justice. We explicitly invite discussions of work in progress and encourage out-of-the box thinking, and will limit the number of participants to facilitate exchange and dialogue among the participants.
Among others, we hope to attract discussions of the following (identified for illustration only):
  • Wellbeing: How can we analyse notions of environmental justice as part of the values important to different people? How does the shift from ‘objective’ poverty indices to ‘subjective’ wellbeing capture people’s ideas about a good life and desirable human environmental relations?
  • Participation and power: What is the evidence on how different forms of participation and power relations shape social and ecological outcomes? What tools have the potential to facilitate inclusion of marginalized people in management decisions?
  • Indigenous/experiential knowledge and environmental perceptions: How do different ways of knowing and understanding human-environment relations influence ecosystem management?
  • Trade-offs: What role do concerns over injustices and considerations of justice play in decisions over trade-offs? How do so-called rights-based approaches condition ecosystem management practices?
  • Property rights and access: What are the effects of property rights and other institutions differentiating access on social and ecological outcomes? Under what conditions can payments for ecosystem services lead to desirable social and ecological outcomes?
  • Ecosystem services and ‘disservices’: How does the way ecosystem services and disservices are defined influence the potential management of trade-offs? What makes biodiversity an ecosystem service (or disservice)? 
  • Cultural ecosystem services: How do the concept of cultural ecosystem services and its operationalization in research capture the multiple values attributed by different stakeholders to ecosystems, as well as their views on human-environmental interactions?
  • Aggregation and disaggregation: What forms of ecosystem management are privileged by aggregated accounts of ecosystem services? How does the disaggregation of services by stakeholders help to inform management practices? 
  • Valuation: What values, and whose values come to matter in ecosystem management? What procedures are available to accommodate multiple modes of valuation for just ecosystem management?
  • Monitoring and measurement: How does the knowledge produced by particular monitoring procedures and measurement techniques influence priorities for ecosystem management?
Conference format and output
We will restrict the number of paper presentations and participants to facilitate interactions among all participants. We will also request all presenters to share an extended abstract or summary of key arguments in advance in order to prepare the discussion at the workshop. Our goal is to produce a special journal issue and/or edited volume from the presentations.
Important deadlines
  • Please send abstracts (up to 300 words, including name, email and institutional affiliation) for proposed contributions to Neil.Dawson [at] by 31 May 2015. All abstracts will be assessed by a panel of reviewers anonymously.
  • We aim to inform invited participants by 20 June 2015.
  • Extended abstracts or a summary of key arguments will be due by 01 October 2015 for circulation before the workshop.
  • Global Environmental Justice Group, University of East Anglia
  • Section of Geography, University of Kopenhagen
  • Faculty of Forestry, National University of Laos 
  • NORDECO (Nordic Agency for Development and Ecology)
The workshop is part of the project ‘Ecosystem Services, Wellbeing and Justice’ (NE/L001411/1) supported under the Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation Programme (ESPA), which is funded by the Department for International Development (DFID), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).