Justice and equity are fundamental to the complex choices that societies need to make to achieve transformative change (Reference Bennett, Blythe, Cisneros-Montemayor, Singh and SumailaBennett et al., 2019; Reference Brondízio, Settele, Díaz and NgoIPBES, 2019; Reference Leach, Reyers and BaiLeach et al., 2018; Reference MartinMartin, 2017). Evidence that more socioeconomically unequal societies tend to experience higher rates of biodiversity loss (Reference Holland, Peterson and GonzalezHolland et al., 2009; Reference Brondízio, Settele, Díaz and NgoIPBES, 2019) suggests that injustice and threats to biodiversity are closely intertwined. Injustice can function as an underlying cause of biodiversity loss, such as where colonial expropriation of Indigenous peoples’ land paves the way for its exploitation (Reference Martinez-AlierMartinez-Alier, 2002). Similarly, biodiversity loss can create new injustices or exacerbate existing ones, for example where the destruction of ecosystems accelerates risks such as climate change or pandemics that disproportionately affect the poor (Reference Kashwan, Biermann, Gupta and OkerekeKashwan et al., 2020). Alleviating unjust conditions could provide a catalyst for environmentally sustainable governance (and vice versa), as where respecting and securing the land rights of marginalized groups enhances the ecological integrity of biologically diverse areas (Reference Brondízio, Settele, Díaz and NgoIPBES, 2019). However, a major challenge for achieving transformative governance in practice is that measures to address biodiversity loss or social injustice can give rise to trade-offs between these goals. Accordingly, efforts to pursue transformative biodiversity governance need to acknowledge social-ecological complexity, expose existing conditions of injustice and embrace opportunities to overcome them.
In the context of this chapter, we understand justice and equity as crucial features of both the means and the ends of transformative biodiversity governance: they are important not only for their instrumental role in addressing biodiversity loss, but also because they are among the core social values that transformative governance aims to rethink and pursue (throughout the chapter, we generally use the term “justice” as shorthand for “justice and equity” unless otherwise specified; Section 8.2 notes different usages of the two terms). Accounts of transformative governance – such as the one that informs this collection – often see inclusive governance as an integral feature of the concept (Chapter 1; Reference Brondízio, Settele, Díaz and NgoIPBES, 2019). Including different groups with diverse worldviews, experiences, knowledge systems and values requires respect, trust, mutual understanding and dialogue, and can be seen as a key requirement of procedural justice. The idea of inclusive governance provides an important conceptual entry point for recognizing justice as a core element of transformative governance. However, as we will show, inclusion is only one among several principles of justice that transformative governance needs to take into account. More broadly, the pursuit of justice speaks to another key feature of transformative governance, which is that it must be integrative in seeking synergies and minimizing incoherence not only across sectors, institutions and policy instruments, but also across societal goals, including justice and sustainability (Chapter 1; Reference Brondízio, Settele, Díaz and NgoIPBES, 2019).
The question of what justice involves is complex, contested and often overlooked in policy-making. Despite considerable advances in theorizing social and environmental justice and applying these theories to biodiversity governance, there has been little exploration to date of whether and how justice could strengthen the transformative potential of biodiversity governance. This gives rise to the overall question that this chapter addresses: How should principles of justice and equity be interpreted and upheld in efforts to pursue transformative biodiversity governance?
To address this question, we begin in Section 8.2 with an overview of evolving theories and norms of justice and equity in biodiversity governance. In Section 8.3 we illustrate how the need for transformative change demands a rethink about what justice entails and requires in the context of biodiversity governance. Then in Sections 8.4–8.6 we address justice in three key stages of transformative governance to address the direct and indirect drivers of biodiversity loss: How should decision-making processes be structured (Section 8.4)? How should financial resources for achieving transformative change be mobilized and allocated (Section 8.5)? And how should transformative biodiversity initiatives be designed and implemented (Section 8.6)? These three areas offer a framework for discussing several important areas of debate about justice in biodiversity governance, including the roles of Indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLC) (Section 8.4), relations between the Global South and North (Section 8.5) and the social impacts of protected area expansion and biodiversity mainstreaming (Section 8.6). While our review does not exhaustively cover all aspects of justice in transformative biodiversity governance, it is complemented by other chapters in this collection, including on emerging technologies (Chapter 7), animals (Chapter 9), and access and benefit-sharing (Chapters 10 and 15). Section 8.7 sets out policy recommendations emerging from the preceding sections, and Section 8.8 concludes.
Throughout the chapter we conduct an integrative review (Reference SnyderSnyder, 2019) that critically assesses key theoretical and empirical literature (mainly spanning the period 2010–2020) on justice and equity in biodiversity governance, while also drawing parallels with related areas of environmental governance. Our review is supplemented by the analysis of documents produced by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), as presented in Figure 8.1. While our primary focus is on governance at the global scale – in particular the CBD – we also discuss how concerns of justice and equity arise in local and national governance, given that these concerns are linked across multiple scales.
A core set of claims advanced in the chapter is that the depth, scale and urgency of transformative change: (a) demand heightened attention to justice in biodiversity governance; (b) reinforce the need for understandings of justice that are multidimensional (encompassing just processes and recognition as well as distributively just outcomes); and (c) underscore the importance of ensuring justice for the most vulnerable and marginalized groups in processes of transformative change. These claims converge on the idea that transformative biodiversity governance entails a “just transformation” toward a more sustainable planet.
Why are justice and equity so important for biodiversity governance? A first rationale rests on the idea that justice is of intrinsic moral importance. As an essential foundation for sustaining human and nonhuman wellbeing, biodiversity could be seen as a prerequisite for achieving justice (Human Rights Council, 2017). Yet, societies have strong incentives – often but not always grounded in concerns for their own wellbeing – to exploit biodiversity rather than conserve it. Whatever combination of exploitation and conservation is pursued, its impacts are unevenly distributed across human and nonhuman communities, spaces and generations (Reference Blythe, Silver and EvansBlythe et al., 2018; Reference Howe, Suich, Vira and MaceHowe et al., 2014; Reference McShane, Hirsch and TrungMcShane et al., 2011). This recurrent imbalanced distribution of costs and benefits poses fundamental moral questions about what a just state of affairs is and who should be responsible for envisioning and achieving it.
A second rationale relies on the instrumental importance of justice for biodiversity governance, as in the claim that injustice is an indirect driver of biodiversity loss (Reference Brondízio, Settele, Díaz and NgoIPBES, 2019). According to this view, if governance is just (or at least widely perceived to be so) it will produce better ecological outcomes (Reference Martin, Armijos and CoolsaetMartin et al., 2020). Evaluating both of these rationales requires clarifying how the terms “justice” and “equity” are used in theory and practice.
The meanings of justice and equity are necessarily plural and contested (see Reference RawlsRawls, 1999; Reference SenSen, 2009; Reference Shelton, Bodansky, Brunnée and HeyShelton, 2007). In the literature reviewed in this chapter, justice, equity and fairness are frequently considered to be synonymous or interchangeable, and our analysis does not rely on drawing a clear-cut distinctions between these terms. However, theorists often see justice as a more stringent set of moral (and sometimes legal) responsibilities that social institutions owe to humans (and sometimes also to nonhumans) as a matter of right, whereas equity may refer to a wider notion of fair, proportionate or nonarbitrary treatment (see e.g. Reference ArmstrongArmstrong, 2019). As outlined in later sections, applied definitions frequently depart from the theoretical foundations of these terms, and the term “equity” tends to be invoked in policy contexts and at project level more than “justice.”
A range of theories and conceptions of justice have emerged that relate to biodiversity. These include environmental and ecological justice (Reference KopninaKopnina, 2016; Reference SchlosbergSchlosberg, 2007), social-ecological justice (Reference Gunnarsson-Östling, Svenfelt, Holifield, Chakraborty and WalkerGunnarsson-Östling and Svenfelt, 2018), multispecies justice (Reference Celermajer, Schlosberg and RickardsCelermajer et al., 2021), just conservation (Reference Gavin, McCarter and MeadGavin et al., 2015; Reference MartinMartin, 2017), just sustainabilities (Reference Agyeman, Bullard and EvansAgyeman et al., 2003), equitable sustainability (Reference Leach, Reyers and BaiLeach et al., 2018) and planetary justice (Reference Dryzek and PickeringDryzek and Pickering, 2019; Reference Kashwan, Biermann, Gupta and OkerekeKashwan et al., 2020). One could also refer to the idea of “biodiversity justice” (Reference Godden, O’Connell, Martin, Bigdeli, Daya-Winterbottom, du Plessis and KennedyGodden and O’Connell, 2015) or “just biodiversity governance” (Reference AdamAdam, 2014). Each of these conceptualizations of justice varies in several respects.
First, theories vary depending on who or what are the subjects of justice or rights-holders (Reference Martin, Coolsaet and CorberaMartin et al., 2016). These are commonly disaggregated to include gender, socioeconomic, racial, ethnic or cultural differences, while taking account of intersectionality across these characteristics (Reference Schlosberg and CarruthersSchlosberg and Carruthers, 2010). Conventional accounts of environmental justice tend to be anthropocentric, while ecological and social-ecological accounts recognize nonhumans (e.g. animals, plants or ecosystems) as subjects of justice (Reference SchlosbergSchlosberg, 2007; Chapter 9). Second, the theories operate over different spatial, temporal and sectoral scales. Some see the state as the primary site of justice, while others foreground a global perspective or underscore the agency of local communities and institutions (Reference Sikor and NewellSikor and Newell, 2014). Some theories focus on duties toward those living now, while others emphasize intergenerational justice (Reference Dryzek and PickeringDryzek and Pickering, 2019). A range of theories – particularly those that call for the explicit adoption of critical, decolonial, feminist and other lenses – situate questions of justice and biodiversity within broader processes that continue to perpetuate injustice, such as colonial exploitation and gender inequality (Reference Alvarez and CoolsaetAlvarez and Coolsaet, 2020; Reference ElmhirstElmhirst, 2011; Reference PellowPellow, 2017).
Three core dimensions have gained prominence in environmental justice scholarship over the last two decades: distribution, procedure and recognition (Reference SchlosbergSchlosberg, 2007, building on Reference FraserFraser, 1995). Distributive justice is the most widely researched and commonly recognized dimension. It encompasses who receives the benefits and opportunities versus who bears the costs and risks of social cooperation (Reference WalkerWalker, 2012). Theories vary considerably as to what kinds of principles should determine a just distribution, such as equality, need or aggregate social utility/wellbeing (Reference Kaswan and CoolsaetKaswan, 2020). Procedural justice engages with the processes by which decisions are made (Reference Davoudi and BrooksDavoudi and Brooks, 2014; Reference Dawson, Coolsaet, Martin, Schreckenberg, Mace and PoudyalDawson et al., 2018a). Recognition pertains to the status afforded to multiple social groups, worldviews and cultural values and identities, and to issues of self-respect and self-esteem (Reference Martin, Coolsaet and CorberaMartin et al., 2016; Reference WhyteWhyte, 2011; Reference Whyte, Holifield, Chakraborty and Walker2018) Examples of how each dimension of justice applies to biodiversity governance are outlined in Table 8.1 . A final aspect of justice that is not always explicit in this tripartite categorization is corrective or remedial justice, which involves measures to correct or remedy unjust actions or omissions, such as sanctions for “ecocide” or violence against environmental defenders (Reference Gonzalez and TecheraGonzalez, 2012; Reference WhyteWhyte, 2011). Space constraints preclude a detailed discussion of this aspect, but related issues are discussed under distributive and procedural justice.
|Dimension of justice||Examples in biodiversity governance|
This chapter does not advocate any one of the conceptions of justice outlined above, but instead takes elements from each to adopt a pluralist approach spanning both social and ecological aspects, and all three dimensions of justice across multiple temporal, spatial and sectoral scales.
Debates about justice and equity – particularly between the Global South and North – have pervaded the politics of global biodiversity governance since its emergence (Reference Broggiato, Dedeurwaerdere, Batur, Coolsaet, Coolsaet, Batur, Broggiato, Pitseyes and DedeurwaerdereBroggiato et al., 2015; Reference SwansonSwanson, 1999). Discussions on global environmental governance since the 1970s prompted the Global South to develop a set of common demands on environmental issues (Reference WilliamsWilliams, 1993), including on what Christopher Reference Stone and RensStone (1996) called the “most difficult moral question” regarding the Convention: the distribution of costs associated with conserving biodiversity. Most of the world’s biodiversity is located in nonindustrialized countries, which generally have more limited capacity to pay for conservation than industrialized countries (see also Section 8.5). As a result, conservation has increasingly shifted toward more “people-friendly” and decentralized interventions such as “integrated conservation and development projects,” driven by the belief that poverty was the main cause of environmental degradation (Reference RoeRoe, 2008).
Against this political backdrop, norms of equity, rights and justice have gained traction in key documents and practices of global biodiversity governance.Footnote 1 The CBD and the UNFCCC – both of which were adopted at the 1992 Earth Summit – were among the first multilateral environmental agreements to explicitly integrate equity. The CBD’s third objective is “the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources” (UN, 1992, Article 1; emphasis added). While intergenerational equity (i.e. equity between generations) was foundational to the narrative of sustainable development in the 1987 Brundtland Report, the CBD and the UNFCCC raised the profile of intragenerational equity (i.e. equity among groups within a single generation) on the international environmental agenda (Reference OkerekeOkereke, 2006). A comparison of official documents associated with each treaty body shows how references to equity in the CBD are far more common than references to equity in the UNFCCC or to justice in either treaty (see Figure 8.1).
This evidence reflects a broader observed tendency that equity is more commonly invoked than justice in international agreements (see also Reference OkerekeOkereke, 2008). In policy contexts, equity is often applied to specific policies or with a focus on a single dimension (most frequently distribution), allowing more politically sensitive issues such as historic land rights to be sidelined (Reference Coolsaet, Dawson, Rabitz and LoveraCoolsaet et al., 2020).
Today, international policy norms on conservation cover most of the dimensions of justice introduced above (Reference Dawson, Coolsaet, Martin, Schreckenberg, Mace and PoudyalDawson et al., 2018a; FAO, 2001, Article 1.1; Reference Marion SuiseeyaMarion Suiseeya, 2017). In 2010, the CBD extended equity-related wording, which for a long time had been limited to access and benefit-sharing (ABS), to conservation efforts: Aichi Target 11 called for the conservation of biodiversity to take place through “effectively and equitably managed” protected areas (Reference Zafra-Calvo, Pascual and BrockingtonZafra-Calvo et al., 2017).
Global norms entrenched in other international frameworks – especially ideas of rights – have played an increasingly important role in shaping debates about justice and equity in biodiversity governance (Reference Coolsaet, Dawson, Rabitz and LoveraCoolsaet et al., 2020). Indigenous Peoples, for example, steward 85 percent of the world’s remaining biodiversity, yet their ability to do so is threatened by weak and/or infringed political, economic and social rights (Reference Brondízio, Settele, Díaz and NgoIPBES, 2019; Reference Tauli-CorpuzTauli-Corpuz, 2016). In recent years, the global Indigenous movement has worked to secure references to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in texts negotiated at the CBD and the UNFCCC as ways to recognize their rights to self-determination, but also to protect their ability to steward lands and forests critical for biodiversity conservation (Reference Marion Suiseeya and ZanottiMarion Suiseeya and Zanotti, 2019). Linking biodiversity to the human rights to life and health, adequate standards of living and nondiscrimination in the enjoyment of rights, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment recognized that “the full enjoyment of human rights … depends on biodiversity, and the degradation and loss of biodiversity undermine … human rights” (Human Rights Council, 2017: 3). These developments have been complemented by the institutionalization of procedural environmental rights – particularly in regional agreements such as the Aarhus Convention and the Escazú Agreement – such as the right to participate in environmental decision-making and the recognition of rights to a healthy environment in many national constitutions (Reference GellersGellers, 2017).
Despite these advances, biodiversity continues to decline at unprecedented rates, giving rise to calls to transform existing governance systems (see e.g. Reference Brondízio, Settele, Díaz and NgoIPBES, 2019). The section that follows highlights justice and equity considerations that need to be taken into account specifically when moving toward transformative governance of biodiversity.
8.3 Rethinking Justice and Equity in the Context of Transformative Governance: Toward Just Transformation
What does transformation mean for justice and equity in biodiversity governance? Adopting the definition of Chapter 1, transformative governance embraces the multiple enabling processes that facilitate “fundamental system-wide reorganisation” (Reference Brondízio, Settele, Díaz and NgoIPBES, 2019). Transformative governance “seeks to achieve desired societal values” (Reference Chaffin, Garmestani and GundersonChaffin et al., 2016: 408; see also Chapters 1 and 4). However, determining what is desirable – including whether transformation is desirable at all – and how to achieve a desired transformation involves contestation over values, interests and worldviews. Indeed, rethinking core societal values can be seen as a constitutive feature of transformative governance (Chapters 1 and 4; Reference Brondízio, Settele, Díaz and NgoIPBES, 2019). Questions about who should be involved in this contestation, how values should be rethought and who has the authority to make decisions underscore the political character of transformation (Reference Blythe, Silver and EvansBlythe et al., 2018; Reference Patterson, Schulz and VervoortPatterson et al., 2017), hence posing concerns of justice. Nevertheless, existing accounts of sustainability transformations have been criticized for their lack of attention to justice (Reference Martin, Armijos and CoolsaetMartin et al., 2020; Reference Patterson, Schulz and VervoortPatterson et al., 2017). In contrast to more conventional or incremental approaches to biodiversity governance, the depth, scale and urgency of change associated with transformative biodiversity governance demand reflecting on its association with social and environmental justice.
First, transformative change requires deep shifts in existing patterns of production and consumption, disrupting inequalities of power that drive and arise from these patterns. Not only could misguided attempts at transformation result in an unjust redistribution of resources, but powerful vested interests may also resist transformative change and defend an unjust status quo. While transformative governance is often portrayed as universally beneficial, transformations inevitably produce winners and losers (Reference Blythe, Silver and EvansBlythe et al., 2018; Reference Morrison, Adger and BrownMorrison et al., 2017; Reference Patterson, Schulz and VervoortPatterson et al., 2017). Even if the normative ideal of transformative governance entails justice (as stipulated in the Introduction), the implications of different policy options can be difficult to predict, and some forms of social transformation may in practice yield injustice, e.g. if the creation of protected areas deprives Indigenous peoples and local communities of access to their traditional lands (Chapters 2, 11, 12). Moreover, policy-makers and other powerful actors may manipulate discourses of transformation for unjust ends, for example to justify business as usual or to shift responsibility for behavioral change away from themselves and onto consumers or citizens (Reference Blythe, Silver and EvansBlythe et al., 2018).
Second, the geographic and temporal scale of transformative change magnifies the justice challenges for transformative governance. Transformative change will require attention to the drivers of biodiversity loss emanating in one part of the world while affecting another (Reference Liu, Hull and BatistellaLiu et al., 2013; Chapters 1 and 4), e.g. where demand for beef or soy in Europe drives land clearing in the Amazon rainforest. Moreover, addressing transformative change over large geographic regions will inevitably need to deal with a tremendous diversity of meanings and claims of justice. Yet conventional understandings of social justice often center on relationships among participants in a domestic social contract and struggle to conceptualize relations of justice at a global level (Reference Sikor and NewellSikor and Newell, 2014). With regard to temporal scale, a strong argument for transformative biodiversity governance is that the continued loss of biodiversity, even if equitably distributed for present generations, will inevitably disadvantage future generations (Reference Alvarez and CoolsaetAlvarez and Coolsaet, 2020). However, the costs of initiating transformative change rest initially on the present generation, raising questions of intergenerational equity (Reference Martin, McGuire and SullivanMartin et al., 2013).
Third, the urgency of transformative governance intensifies questions about the feasibility of pursuing justice. Invoking an ecological or climate emergency risks circumventing democratic safeguards and resulting in unjust reforms (Reference NiemeyerNiemeyer, 2014). However, while halting biodiversity loss is long overdue, the urgency of the task does not make it impossible to consider the justice implications of critical decisions. Indeed, if hasty action results in further injustice, this is likely to damage public support for transformative governance and ultimately be counterproductive (Reference Dryzek and PickeringDryzek and Pickering, 2019).
The remaining sections explore in more depth how questions of justice and equity can be addressed in specific areas of transformative governance. Our discussion builds on ideas of a “just transition” to more sustainable societies. While the term has become prominent in climate policy – underscoring that the transition to renewable energy should not disproportionately affect groups such as coal miners or low-income electricity consumers (Reference Stevis and CoolsaetStevis, 2020) – scholars and activists have applied the term to environmental justice more broadly (Reference Ciplet and HarrisonCiplet and Harrison, 2020). Thus, one could think of a just transition (Reference Newell and MulvaneyNewell and Mulvaney, 2013; Reference SwillingSwilling, 2019) or even a “just transformation” (Reference Bennett, Blythe, Cisneros-Montemayor, Singh and SumailaBennett et al., 2019; Reference Schlosberg, Collins and NiemeyerSchlosberg et al., 2017) of biodiversity governance.Footnote 2 The idea of just transformation speaks to the notion that transformative governance must be integrative and inclusive (Chapter 1), and calls attention to the interests of disadvantaged or marginalized groups in the context of transformation, including nonhuman species and ecosystems. One might object that, since the ideal of transformative governance necessarily entails justice, the idea of “just transformation” is tautologous. We believe, however, that processes of transformation (as distinct from transformative change) may be just or unjust (see also Reference Bennett, Blythe, Cisneros-Montemayor, Singh and SumailaBennett et al., 2019). Moreover, considerations of justice can easily be overshadowed by the pursuit of transformations toward environmental sustainability; hence the need to foreground a just transformation (Reference Martin, Armijos and CoolsaetMartin et al., 2020).
Transformative change demands a fundamental reordering and rescaling of how problems are defined, solutions are deliberated and decisions are reached. One of the five key ingredients of transformative governance set out in Chapter 1 is inclusive governance (“governance approaches through stakeholder engagement, including Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities, in decision-making processes.” Reference Brondízio, Settele, Díaz and NgoIPBES, 2019: 894). Transformative governance needs to be inclusive in order “to empower … those whose interests are currently not being met and who represent values that constitute transformative change toward sustainability” (Chapter 1). Similarly, Chapter 1 stipulates that transformative governance needs to be transdisciplinary, “in ways that recognize different knowledge systems.” Attention to inclusive and informed governance highlights the importance of procedural justice and recognition. At the same time, a just transformation further demands greater attention to the underlying forces that structure and constitute decision-making landscapes.
Relative to other environmental problems, the CBD is generally considered to be a rather inclusive arena (Reference Coolsaet and PitseysCoolsaet and Pitseys, 2015; Reference Cordonier Segger and PhillipsCordonier Segger and Phillips, 2015), even though debates on these questions are ongoing (Reference ReimersonReimerson, 2013). At a local level, however, biodiversity governance most commonly remains in the control of external actors, both public and private, through management regimes that seek to amend local practices and override customary institutions (Reference Coolsaet, Dawson, Rabitz and LoveraCoolsaet et al., 2020). Biodiversity conservation initiatives that fail to include affected communities in decision-making often fail to achieve their conservation objectives (Reference Bell, Carrick, Holifield, Chakraborty and WalkerBell and Carrick, 2017; Reference Bennett and SatterfieldBennett and Satterfield, 2018; Reference Dawson, Martin and DanielsenDawson et al., 2018b). Unjust decision-making processes can spark new conflicts (Reference PaavolaPaavola, 2004), compound injustices (Reference SikorSikor, 2013), foment distrust of the decision-making process and its proponents (Reference Brechin, Fortwangler, Wilshusen and WestBrechin et al., 2003; Reference Hotes and OpgenoorthHotes and Opgenoorth, 2014), and undermine broader biodiversity governance objectives (Reference MartinMartin, 2017).
Drawing on a growing body of literature examining concepts and practices for ensuring broad representation and inclusive decision-making (see e.g. Reference WalkerWalker, 2012), we direct attention to three key questions: Who should be included in decision-making processes? On what terms should decision-making processes take place? At what point do requirements of recognition and procedural justice begin?
At a minimum, procedural justice requires the inclusion and representation of affected parties in decision-making processes (Reference SchlosbergSchlosberg, 2007). The authority to decide who should be included typically rests with powerful actors (e.g. governments or intergovernmental organizations) who may misuse this authority to entrench existing inequalities of power. However, that authority can be subjected to scrutiny and challenge by social movements or other actors. The task of assessing who counts as affected – and determining what sorts of processes justice requires – becomes even more complex in the context of transformative biodiversity governance, which may both extend and amplify the effects of ecological and policy change across different social groups.
Scholars and practitioners broadly agree that affected parties include those groups who are vulnerable to biodiversity loss and/or who might be adversely impacted by conservation policies (Reference Martin, McGuire and SullivanMartin et al., 2013). These groups include IPLC and other marginalized groups with land-, water- or sea-based identities and lifeways. Attending to how demographic features, such as gender, age, race, class and ethnicity, shape different groups’ experiences with biodiversity governance is critical for understanding who affected parties are and how they are differentially affected (Reference Brondízio, Settele, Díaz and NgoIPBES, 2019; Reference Malin and RyderMalin and Ryder, 2018; Reference Marion Suiseeya and ZanottiMarion Suiseeya and Zanotti, 2019). Efforts to address distributive injustice or lack of recognition may be undermined when those most affected are not part of decision-making processes (Reference Marion SuiseeyaMarion Suiseeya, 2016). More contentious is how other actors affected by conservation policy – such as corporations whose practices contribute to biodiversity loss – should be included in decision-making processes in ways that do not reinforce or exacerbate asymmetries of power (Reference DempseyDempsey, 2016).
8.4.2 On What Terms Should Decision-Making Processes Take Place?
Procedural justice requires attention to at least four characteristics of affected actors’ roles in decision-making processes: (1) physical presence of affected actors or their representatives in decision-making settings; (2) access, meaning the authority to be an active participant in decision-making processes rather than only an observer; (3) capacity to leverage access to exercise agency (e.g. the ability to initiate a proposal or make a statement without being first invited to do so) and (4) capacity to influence decision-making processes (Reference Marion Suiseeya and ZanottiMarion Suiseeya and Zanotti, 2019; Reference Witter, Marion Suiseeya and GrubyWitter et al., 2015). Numerous studies have shown that presence and access alone are insufficient for procedural justice (Reference Cooke and KothariCooke and Kothari, 2001; Reference HollandHolland, 2017).
The CBD has been a leader among multilateral treaty bodies in the inclusion of IPLC in its decision-making processes (Reference Jones-Walters and ÇilJones-Walters and Çil, 2011). Unlike the UNFCCC, which severely limits how nonstate actors can directly engage in their proceedings, the CBD moves beyond presence as a measure of inclusion. For example, representatives from the IPLC constituency colead negotiations on issues that have direct implications for the wellbeing and lifeways of Indigenous peoples, such as the Convention’s Working Group on Article 8(j) (which deals with traditional knowledge, innovations and practices) and related provisions. Indigenous peoples have similarly forged new ground in intergovernmental scientific bodies such as IPBES by securing formal mechanisms for integrating diverse knowledge and value systems into its processes (Reference Tengö, Hill and MalmerTengö et al., 2017).
Procedural justice also requires attending to power inequalities and political representation. Uneven power relations – such as states’ control over multilateral governance processes or the privileged access of some stakeholders to the ear of government – affect the ability of actors to contribute to decision-making processes (Reference SchroederSchroeder, 2010). Tools such as Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) show how institutions can help to address power imbalances and dismantle barriers to direct engagement. If fully implemented, FPIC creates a formalized channel for marginalized groups to leverage their power by requiring that affected parties give consent to receiving biodiversity governance initiatives in their communities (Reference Colchester and FerrariColchester and Ferrari, 2007).
In practice it is not feasible for everyone affected to directly engage in decision-making processes; all the more so in deliberation at a global level that affects billions of people. Not all actors may have the financial, linguistic, physical or social capabilities to participate directly (Reference ReimersonReimerson, 2013). Where feasible, actors who cannot participate directly should be able to select their own representatives. In the case of nonhuman subjects (e.g. animals, plants and ecosystems), which cannot select humans to represent them, options include legally appointed custodians, or nongovernmental organizations or experts working on conservation or animal welfare and rights. Similarly, custodians may be formally appointed to represent future generations (Reference Dryzek and PickeringDryzek and Pickering, 2019; Reference SchlosbergSchlosberg, 2007).
8.4.3 When Do Requirements of Recognition and Procedural Justice Begin?
Although most studies of procedural justice focus on collective decision-making processes, those processes only begin following the identification of a problem or issue. Public policy and political ecology scholars have demonstrated the extraordinary power held by those who are able to define problems and set agendas (Reference Bardach and PatashnikBardach and Patashnik, 2019; Reference Corson, Gruby and WitterCorson et al., 2014) and the extended effects of agendas that often carry forward beyond the initial decision-making process (Reference Hughes and VadrotHughes and Vadrot, 2019; Reference MacDonald and CorsonMacDonald and Corson, 2012). The resulting problem definitions, agendas and venues influence which actors and issues engage and are privileged in the process. Attending to the ways in which different power hierarchies and inequalities inform the phase before decision-making on a given problem begins (the “decision-impetus phase”) is critical for advancing procedural justice (Reference Marion Suiseeya and CoolsaetMarion Suiseeya, 2020).
One example of the importance of the decision-impetus phase is the problem of biodiversity itself. The framing of the biodiversity problem was initially driven largely by conservation biologists (Reference Haila, Meadowcroft and FiorinoHaila, 2017; Reference TakacsTakacs, 1996). The idea of biodiversity subsequently gained wider acceptance but still carries certain connotations that affect power relations and may not resonate with certain groups, e.g. seeing biodiversity loss as the depletion of a resource rather than as the disruption of a harmonious relationship between humans and nonhumans (see Chapter 9; Reference Martin, McGuire and SullivanMartin et al., 2013). This example highlights that while inclusion of affected actors in established decision-making processes is a critical element of transformative governance, just transformation requires earlier and broader attention to procedural justice and recognition.
While transformative governance is likely to yield net economic benefits over the longer term, it will require large-scale mobilization of financial resources and a shift away from financing activities that harm biodiversity (CBD, 2020; Reference Chaffin, Garmestani and GundersonChaffin et al., 2016; Reference McCarthy, Donald and ScharlemannMcCarthy et al., 2012; Chapter 6). However, given vast disparities in incomes worldwide, capacity to mobilize resources domestically varies widely. Justice requires that higher-capacity countries support those with more limited capacity (Reference ArmstrongArmstrong, 2019).
The CBD obliges developed countries to “provide new and additional financial resources” to enable developing countries to meet their obligations under the Convention (UN, 1992: Article 20.2). Subsequently, Aichi Target 20 aimed for the mobilization of financial resources to “increase substantially from the current levels.” A high-level panel of the CBD (2012) estimated the cost of meeting the Aichi targets globally at US$150–$440 billion per year, and it is likely that the cost of meeting more ambitious post-2020 targets will be at least within this range (CBD, 2020). Accordingly, resource mobilization has emerged as a key priority for the post-2020 framework.
1. How should the global effort of mobilizing resources be shared among nation-states and nonstate actors?
2. How should resources be allocated across countries and communities?
Both questions raise complex issues of distributive justice but have been addressed far less in the literature on biodiversity finance than in literature on development assistance and climate finance. The discussion below draws on relevant findings from these other bodies of work.
Recognizing the differentiated capabilities of its parties, the CBD notes “the importance of burden-sharing” among contributing parties in providing finance for developing countries (Article 20.2). This leaves open the question of which actors (whether states, international organizations, civil society or private actors) should contribute the most toward a scaled-up international financing effort: is it those who have contributed the most to biodiversity loss, those with the greatest capacity to mobilize resources or those who stand to gain the most (economically or otherwise) from conservation? These three principles – sometimes referred to as the contributor/polluter pays principle, the capacity to pay principle and the beneficiary pays principle – have been widely debated in the literature on climate justice (see e.g. Reference Dellink, Den Elzen and AikingDellink et al., 2009; Reference PagePage, 2011) but have so far received only modest attention in the literature on biodiversity finance (for notable contributions, see Reference ArmstrongArmstrong, 2019; Reference Balmford and WhittenBalmford and Whitten, 2003).
While some argue that the extent to which actors will benefit from conservation should be the primary factor in distributing costs (Reference Balmford and WhittenBalmford and Whitten, 2003), others argue that a pluralist approach combining all three principles is necessary, not least because those who stand to benefit most – e.g. forest communities – may have little capacity to pay for additional conservation efforts, even though they are often the most active participants in existing conservation practices (Reference ArmstrongArmstrong, 2019). Moreover, it would be unfair to expect potential beneficiaries to pay the most when others (e.g. consumers in other countries) may be driving biodiversity loss in those areas despite the availability of less destructive alternatives (Reference DowieDowie, 2011).
To date, parties to the CBD have not been able to agree on how to translate principles of equity into transparent, quantified effort-sharing measures. Sharing the overall conservation financing effort typically operates more informally.Footnote 3 However, improved transparency about how much parties are providing could help to clarify which parties are fulfilling their obligations, and inclusive deliberation could help to build shared understandings about broad parameters for effort-sharing (Reference Pickering, Jotzo and WoodPickering et al., 2015).
Evidence indicates that conservation spending is more effective in lower-income countries than higher-income ones (Reference Waldron, Miller and ReddingWaldron et al., 2017), suggesting potential synergies between just allocation and effective ecological outcomes. However, when it comes to the question of allocating finance among lower-income countries, justice and effectiveness could pull in different directions.
Allocation according to need is a prominent justice-based principle for determining distribution, but in practice it competes with other principles of allocation. Existing patterns of allocation for environmental aid reflect a mix of donors’ interests (e.g. supporting neighboring countries or trade partners) and equity considerations such as recipients’ needs (e.g. national income and extent of the environmental problem) (Reference Hicks, Parks, Timmons Roberts and TierneyHicks et al., 2008). Reference Miller, Agrawal and RobertsMiller et al. (2013) find that a country’s biodiversity need (measured using indicators such as the number of threatened species or species richness) and quality of governance are strong predictors of the level of biodiversity aid it receives; income is negatively but weakly correlated with levels of biodiversity aid.
Trade-offs may arise in allocation decisions because the countries with the greatest levels of need may not be the ones with the greatest capacity to manage funds effectively, for example where low-income status coincides with limited institutional capacity. Managing these trade-offs is further complicated by different interpretations of need (e.g. degree of risk of biodiversity loss or capacity for domestic resource mobilization: Reference Miller, Agrawal and RobertsMiller et al., 2013).
A massive scale-up of biodiversity finance would place considerable stress on existing institutional capacity to manage resources, particularly in countries with more constrained capacity (Reference PresbiteroPresbitero, 2016). While this needs to be taken into account in efforts to maximize effective use of biodiversity finance, there is a risk that low-income countries could be further marginalized if the lion’s share of funding goes to middle-income countries with stronger institutional capacity (Reference Arndt and TarpArndt and Tarp, 2017). Demand-driven mechanisms for allocating biodiversity finance may help to manage (if not fully resolve) these trade-offs, as recipient countries’ level of demand for finance may reflect a mix of need and institutional capacity. Enhancing recipient countries’ control over subnational allocation of biodiversity finance could enhance the effectiveness of implementation as well as furthering principles of procedural justice (Reference Duus-OtterströmDuus-Otterström, 2015).
In this section we discuss concerns arising for two prominent strategies that aim to address the drivers of biodiversity loss: (1) scaling up area-based conservation, and (2) mainstreaming biodiversity considerations across all sectors of decision-making.
8.6.1 Equitably Scaling Up Area-Based Conservation Initiatives
There is considerable debate regarding the expansion of area-based conservation and visions to achieve this, including whether expansion should comprise protected areas or “other effective area-based conservation measures” (OECMs) (Reference Büscher, Fletcher and BrockingtonBüscher et al., 2017; Reference Dudley, Jonas and NelsonDudley et al., 2018; Chapters 11 and 12). Here we focus on two key questions of justice that arise in scaling up conserved areas: (1) redistributive effects and (2) questions of procedural justice and recognition in decision-making.
Efforts to expand protected areas commonly curtail existing patterns of resource use in those areas. Recent pledges by many world leaders involve expanding protected areas to cover 30 percent of the Earth’s land and ocean surface by 2030. Proposals to expand this to 50 percent – e.g. the Half Earth Project (inspired by Reference WilsonWilson, 2016) and Nature Needs Half (Reference Kopnina, Washington, Gray and TaylorKopnina et al., 2018) – could impact as many as one billion people (Reference Schleicher, Zaehringer and FastréSchleicher et al., 2019). Such efforts could meet considerable political resistance from rural populations, particularly if they ignore the legacy of colonial land reallocations, displacement of IPLC and “green grabs” (Reference Büscher, Fletcher and BrockingtonBüscher et al., 2017). Equally, resistance may emerge from powerful groups (e.g. resource extraction or infrastructure industries) that are exploiting areas slated for protection. Although the redistributive effects of protected area expansion are often understood in human terms, an ecological justice perspective – which extends compassion, caring and rights to the entire living community – draws attention to the ways in which protected area expansion redistributes the Earth’s resources between humans and nonhumans (Reference Kopnina, Washington, Gray and TaylorKopnina et al., 2018). A perspective on justice that encompasses both human and nonhuman concerns could highlight possible areas of convergence between ecocentric conservationists and social justice activists. In the Amazon, for example, coalitions have formed between conservation biologists and social scientists, or between grassroots popular movements and environmental organizations, that have resulted in the creation of protected areas that combine zones for sustainable use (encompassing subsistence or commercial exploitation) and conservation (Reference Inoue, Franchini, Tickner and SmithInoue and Franchini, 2020). The more ambitious the protected area target, the more challenging it is likely to be to achieve such convergence.
Protected area expansion raises complex governance issues relating to rights, access and control, such that the question of how protected areas are managed is as important as what is to be protected (Reference Büscher, Fletcher and BrockingtonBüscher et al., 2017; Reference Coolsaet, Dawson, Rabitz and LoveraCoolsaet et al., 2020). In implementing international commitments on protected areas (such as Aichi Target 11), governments have tended to focus on the “headline” numbers of how much area is protected, with less emphasis on qualitative factors such as Aichi Target 11’s call for protected areas and OECMs to be “equitably managed” (CBD, 2010). This is partly due to practical and conceptual difficulties of measuring equity. Some impact assessment and evaluation tools (see e.g. Reference Schreckenberg, Franks, Martin and LangSchreckenberg et al., 2016; Reference Zafra-Calvo, Pascual and BrockingtonZafra-Calvo et al., 2017) and conceptual frameworks (Reference Pascual, Balvanera and DíazPascual et al., 2017) incorporating the three dimensions of justice have been developed and adopted by the CBD as voluntary guidance (CBD, 2018). However, barriers remain both to the adoption of these tools and to the achievement of equitable management, particularly where national legal frameworks do not recognize customary land rights.
International recognition of the global network of Indigenous and community conserved areas (ICCAs), along with evidence of their mutual benefits for human wellbeing and nature, offers an example of an emergent transformative change in biodiversity governance (Reference Armitage, Mbatha, Muhl, Rice and SowmanArmitage et al., 2020; Reference Brondízio, Settele, Díaz and NgoIPBES, 2019: chapter 6: 61; Reference Tran, Ban and BhattacharyyaTran et al., 2020). Establishment of an ICCA or “territory of life” requires the autonomy of local people to govern and manage their territories. In many instances, this necessitates an overhaul of land and other laws or policies to transfer power to local institutions, in addition to redressing discriminatory social and political norms. Thus, while a transformative scale-up of area-based conservation will pose significant challenges to existing power relations, it also offers an opportunity to redress a range of injustices (Reference Tauli-Corpuz, Alcorn, Molnar, Healy and BarrowTauli-Corpuz et al., 2020).
Transformative governance beyond protected areas remains essential, as the main direct and indirect drivers of biodiversity loss emanate from outside these areas (Chapter 1; Reference Büscher, Fletcher and BrockingtonBüscher et al., 2017). Here we address risks of injustice when conservation interventions adversely affect marginalized groups. In implementing biodiversity governance, just transformation requires at a minimum (a) careful assessment to identify implementation options that avoid or minimize adverse effects on marginalized groups; and (b) where adverse effects cannot reasonably be avoided, incorporating additional measures to ensure that the wellbeing of these groups is protected.Footnote 4 As outlined in the Introduction, injustice may arise not only from practices that adversely impact biodiversity but also from measures to address biodiversity loss.
Taking the example of subsidies harmful to biodiversity (which are addressed in Aichi Target 3), some subsidies (e.g. for fossil fuel extraction) may benefit wealthy interests at the expense of disadvantaged groups, so dismantling them could yield a double dividend for biodiversity and social justice. However, other subsidies (e.g. for fuel or fertilizer) may be designed to benefit disadvantaged groups, so dismantling those subsidies may adversely affect those groups. More broadly, policies that seek to shift people’s livelihoods away from practices that degrade biodiversity can exacerbate inequalities of gender, education, ethnicity or socioeconomic status (Reference Bidaud, Schreckenberg and RabeharisonBidaud et al., 2017; Reference Blythe, Silver and EvansBlythe et al., 2018). While in some cases unequal impacts can be avoided by choosing an alternative option, in other cases there may be no reasonable alternatives, in which case supporting measures are required to mitigate those impacts.
We highlight four types of additional measures: monetary compensation, localized in-kind support for livelihoods, broader social protection mechanisms and a wider-ranging reconfiguration of social and political relations.
First, economic theories of reform often emphasize monetary transfers to alleviate or compensate for adverse impacts (or conversely monetary incentives to adopt sustainable practices). International biodiversity finance, as outlined in Section 8.5, may help to reduce the risk that conservation efforts will impede the ability of developing countries to address other pressing development priorities. Similarly, payment for ecosystem services (PES) initiatives may enable communities to participate in conservation without endangering their livelihoods (Reference Brondízio, Settele, Díaz and NgoIPBES, 2019). However, there remains the risk that a compensatory perspective will fail to recognize the incommensurability of different values attached to nature, the agency of affected groups and other options for enhancing their wellbeing (Reference Lliso, Pascual, Engel and MarielLliso et al., 2020).
A second option is localized support for livelihoods, such as through integrated conservation and development projects (ICDPs). Most case studies report that local integrated approaches to conservation have yielded very little benefit to people, even in cases that led to more effective conservation (Reference Lund and Saito-JensenLund and Saito-Jensen, 2013; Reference Twinamatsiko, Baker and HarrisonTwinamatsiko et al., 2014). The emerging understanding from this experience is that conservation effectiveness should be conceived as linked to social justice, rather than to a narrow economic understanding of development. In other words, for biodiversity governance to be transformative it is necessary to shift from an “integrated conservation and development” model to one of “integrated conservation and justice” (Reference MartinMartin, 2017; Reference Vucetich, Burnham and MacdonaldVucetich et al., 2018). This would include, for example, stronger recognition of local visions of nature in decision-making processes and support for local environmental stewardship instead of separating local livelihoods from ecosystems or resources of conservation value.
The need to scale up and mainstream biodiversity objectives beyond individual projects points to the importance of exploring a third kind of measure: broad-based social protection mechanisms. These could take the form of unemployment insurance, welfare payments or cash transfers for low-income families (e.g. the Bolsa Floresta program in Brazil), universal basic income or other instruments (Reference de Haande Haan, 2014). Unlike project-specific support, these measures would help to safeguard communities against a wider range of risks to their wellbeing. However, broader redistributive measures may be difficult to implement effectively – particularly in low-income countries – and may need to be supplemented by international support.
Finally, a fourth strategy is to combine conservation measures with broader systemic reform that advances all dimensions of justice, particularly for marginalized groups and environment and human rights defenders (Reference Bille Larsen, Le Billon and MentonBille Larsen et al., 2021; Reference Scheidel, Del Bene and LiuScheidel et al., 2020). This could occur through formal recognition of the rights of IPLC (e.g. through constitutional recognition, parliamentary representation or treaty processes), strengthening social safeguards in conservation policy (to address concerns of displacement and impacts on livelihoods), reform of land tenure legislation, or other measures (Reference Tran, Ban and BhattacharyyaTran et al., 2020). This fourth strategy underscores the importance of thinking well beyond the conventional policy toolkit of financial transfers if just transformation is to be achieved.
Our review confirms that action is required at multiple levels to reinterpret and uphold justice in transformative biodiversity governance across diverse geographic, temporal and spatial scales. Key areas for policy innovation emerging from the preceding sections that could enhance justice in transformative governance – especially through the implementation of the Global Biodiversity Framework – are outlined in Box 8.1.
Norm development and fulfillment: Further development of international norms of equity and justice in global sustainability governance could take the form of new norms (e.g. just biodiversity governance) or further diffusion or expansion of existing norms (e.g. the application of human rights to biodiversity governance, or entrenchment of the principle of equity across all three objectives of the CBD). However, norm development by itself is insufficient: indeed, it could be argued that the CBD already has a range of well-developed norms to work with, and that the key issue is compliance with or fulfillment of those norms – an issue that we address in the subsequent points in this list.
Policy integration: There is a need for stronger integration of justice concerns in biodiversity policy-making, policy implementation and policy review at all levels of governance. One option for doing so would be to build on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework – which includes goals on biodiversity and on social and economic equity, along with other socioeconomic objectives – and associated tools for mapping and managing synergies and trade-offs across goals (e.g. Reference Griggs, Nilsson, Stevance and McCollumICSU, 2017).
Decision-making: Greater attention to how existing approaches to decision-making can exacerbate injustices could be coupled with further entrenchment of procedural rights (including through the Aarhus Convention and related international agreements), practices and measures (e.g. FPIC) to ensure that marginalized groups can shape and influence collective decision-making.
Resource mobilization: This could take the form of credible, time-bound, multilateral, national and nonstate commitments to scale up resource mobilization to support biodiversity policy in developing countries – including meaningful progress on the long-discussed idea of a multilateral benefit-sharing mechanism (Nagoya Protocol, Article 10; see Chapters 6, 10 and 15) – along with efforts to build shared understandings about equitable effort-sharing and allocation of resources.
Implementation: Alongside more conventional measures to alleviate the impacts of conservation initiatives on marginalized groups (including social impact assessment and financial transfers), just transformation is likely to require strengthening broad-based social safety nets, international recognition of ICCAs and other measures to remedy unjust asymmetries of power in political systems (e.g. land reform and recognition of Indigenous rights).
Monitoring, evaluation and accountability: Meaningful mechanisms for monitoring and evaluating equity in conservation, sustainable use and benefit-sharing need to be developed, incorporated into decision-making, and used in reporting on national and collective performance under the post-2020 framework. Existing voluntary guidance for assessing equity in protected area management could be implemented as standard, used to hold decision-makers accountable and extended to other areas of biodiversity governance. Stronger measures are required to ensure that policy-makers and other actors are held accountable for their commitments to transformative change, and that legal sanctions are strengthened for those who persecute environmental defenders or wantonly destroy biodiversity on a large scale.
This chapter has demonstrated that in both conceptualizing and implementing transformative biodiversity governance, issues of justice need urgent attention. Justice is at the core of how to envision and achieve transformative change, and how to maintain a desired future state. Failure to take account of preexisting unjust conditions – or the potential for misguided governance strategies to create further injustice – may not only result in morally reprehensible decisions but may also provoke resistance that ultimately blocks transformative change and results in a failure to address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss. Transformative governance requires not only inclusive governance but a broader integrative vision of justice and sustainability, exemplified by the idea of just transformation.
The literature reviewed in this chapter emphasizes the need for a multidimensional view of justice – comprising not only distributive justice but also procedural justice and recognition – as well as attention to global, intergenerational and interspecies aspects, while also remaining cognizant of diverse social values and local circumstances. The depth, scale and urgency of transformative change underscore the importance of a multidimensional perspective. Achieving a simultaneous transformation toward justice and sustainability remains a daunting challenge replete with complex trade-offs. Nevertheless, it remains vital to strive for a just transformation in which everyone – especially those most often excluded in society – is able to participate in, influence and benefit from more just and sustainable biodiversity governance.