Toward an empirical analysis of justice in ecosystem governance
The 2010 Nagoya Protocol under the Convention on Biological Diversity and recent changes in the policies of major international conservation organizations highlight current interest in revisiting the moral case for conservation. Concerns with equity and human rights challenge well-established notions of justice centered on human responsibility toward nature, the common good or the rights of future generations. This review introduces an empirical approach to the analysis of justice and shows how conservation scientists can apply it to ecosystem services-based governance (or in short, ecosystem governance). It identifies dominant notions of justice and points out their compatibility with utilitarian theories of justice. It then discusses the limited appropriateness of these notions in many contexts in which conservation takes place in the Global South and explores how technical components of ecosystem governance influence the realization of the notions in practice. The review highlights the need for conservation scientists and managers to analyze the justice of ecosystem governance in addition to their effectiveness and efficiency. Justice offers a more encompassing perspective than equity for the empirical analysis of conservation governance.