CfP POLLEN 20 – Innovations in Conservation Governance

Third Biennial Conference of the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN20)
Brighton, United Kingdom
24-26 June 2020

Please send expressions of interest to the lead session organizer, George Holmes, University of Leeds, UK at

Session abstract

The governance of conservation is changing. New forms of resource ownership and control, with new actors, systems, structures and strategies attempting to prevent loss of biodiversity, at all scales from the very local to the global. Examples might include new forms of conservation finance, the increased role for private actors such as privately protected areas, new forms of community governance and collaboration between communities and other actors, the rise of conservation entrepreneurs, approaches based on rewilding and self-willed nature which emphasise minimal human intervention, and much more. The aim of this session is to explore these new forms of conservation governance, their origins, drivers, and potential impacts, as well as how we can study and analyse them. Whilst these forms of conservation governance can be rather different, created for different reasons, in different places, with different results, we aim to explore this diversity. We will seek to understand the tensions and relations between different innovations, and to analyse them for what they say about conservation in the 21st century. We aim to structure and schedule our paper session(s) to maximise productive exchanges between and across papers.

Political ecology has a long history of engagement with conservation. There is a substantial literature exploring the histories of conservation and their entanglements with colonialism and other political projects, the impacts of conservation measures on human populations, the increasing engagement of conservation with neoliberalism, explorations of nature’s agency and more-than-human approaches to conservation, and much more besides. We invite proposals from all areas of political ecology, as well as from other disciplines, for a productive dialogue and exchange, as we look to explore the new and expanding areas of conservation, as well as new and expanding areas of political ecology.

Questions that might be asked and answered in this session include:

  • What are the new forms of conservation governance?
  • What is driving their emergence and evolution, and how can they be understood as part of broader changes in society and the environment?
  • What kinds of future, for people and nature, are imagined in these innovations in conservation, and how do they challenge current mainstream conservation?
  • What is innovative and new in conservation governance today, which may become mainstream tomorrow?
  • What is the impact of these changes in governance for people and nature?
  • How is innovation itself understood within conservation?

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