POLLEN18 CfP: Towards Convivial Conservation? Radical Strategies for Saving Nature in the ‘Anthropocene’

*** Forwarded via Bram Büscher and Rob Fletcher ***

Dear all,

See the below call for papers for a session on ‘convivial conservation’ at the POLLEN18 conference in Oslo next year. Please consider joining!


Bram and Rob

CALL FOR PAPERS –  Presentation Session Proposal

POLLEN18: Political Ecology, the Green Economy, and Alternative Sustainabilities

20-22 June 2018
Oslo and Akershus University College, Oslo, Norway

Towards Convivial Conservation? Radical Strategies for Saving Nature in the ‘Anthropocene’

Convenors: Bram Büscher and Robert Fletcher (Wageningen University, Netherlands)

Despite decades of concerted global efforts, reconciling environmental conservation and (mainstream) economic development remains one of the world’s great challenges. Current conservation measures can be effective in protecting biodiversity in specific places, but in toto have failed to halt global biodiversity loss. In a supposedly ‘human-dominated’ world, referred to as the ‘Anthropocene’, many conservationists argue we have now entered the sixth great extinction crisis, which some even describe as a wholesale ‘biological annihilation’. This has become particularly problematic in a post-2008 era of sustained economic uncertainty in which public funding for conservation has been dramatically curtailed in many societies and financial support from the private sector increasingly sought to make up the shortfall. Yet efforts to develop such models, grounded in market-based instruments (MBIs) such as ecotourism and payment for environmental services (PES), have proven insufficient in generating the necessary funding to counter more lucrative environmentally harmful enterprise as well as in addressing poverty alleviation alongside conservation. They have also often failed to generate the political support required to make new conservation measures more democratic and effective.

The Anthropocene conservation debate has brought many of these issues together and so stimulated self-reflection and various calls for radical transformation in strategy among conservationists. Two of these have gained particular prominence in recent years. The first, a self-styled ‘new conservation’, argues that conventional conservation approaches, grounded in creation of protected areas that separate humans and wildlife, is ineffective. They call instead for intensified market engagement to fund the production of ‘novel landscapes’ in which humans and nature coexist. The second is a resurgence of longer standing ‘neoprotectionist’ traditions. Thoroughly denouncing new conservation, many neoprotectionists are becoming increasingly critical of the promise of market engagements altogether. Under the banners ‘half earth or ‘nature needs half’, they instead place their faith in a dramatic expansion of strict protected areas to encompass at least 50% of the planet.

Both positions raise important points but ultimately fail to provide a convincing way forward. New conservationists’ insistence on harnessing mainstream MBIs belies these mechanisms’ poor track record in slowing down the biodiversity crisis and enabling more convivial human-nature relations. Neoprotectionists propose few means to realize their ‘half earth’ vision without imposing enormous social costs or how to finance an already suffering global conservation estate. An alternative model is needed that goes beyond protected areas and faith in markets to incorporate the needs of humans and nonhumans alike within integrated landscapes.

In their forthcoming book, Büscher and Fletcher propose such a model, termed ‘convivial conservation’. Convivial (literally: ‘living with’) conservation is conceptualised as one stream within a broader societal transformation to sustainability that envisions a new model of human-wildlife relations in the Anthropocene. The concept calls for consideration of new ways to transform mainstream forms of economic development as neoprotectionists contend, while at the same time transcending human-nature divides as promoted by new conservationists. In particular, convivial conservation demands: 1) new conservation landscapes that do not strictly separate humans and other species but promote co-existence; 2) new modes of governing conservation in these spaces; and 3) alternative funding arrangements that do not rely on market expansion and can work under conditions of austerity.

In this panel, we would like to explore already existing and potential efforts to develop such measures in diverse locations throughout the world. We welcome case-studies that showcase elements of ‘convivial conservation’ in practice, as well as conceptual/theoretical contributions that help to imagine what a post-capitalist, non-dichotomous conservation would look like and what theoretical stakes it would entail. Finally we welcome papers that theorise or practically imagine how to move ‘from here to there’, thus dealing with actual political ecologies of change and transition.

If interested to participate, please send a title and 250 word abstract to robert.fletcher@wur.nl and bram.buscher@wur.nl by 30 November. If there is sufficient interest we may expand into multiple panels.



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