Assessing The Nature And Importance Of Biodiversity: Discourses, Impact Evaluation And Compensation Schemes In Colombia
1NASP / University of Milan, Italy; 2GSPR / EHESS, France
Changing from a matter of pride and facts to a matter of concern, biodiversity related issues are always more present in the public discourses and policies of Colombia. This led to the recent implementation of a great number of programs to safeguard it and to follow the global trend of biodiversity offset policies. The analysis puts in perspective the evolution, on one hand, of the ways biodiversity and its associated threats have been presented in the Colombian newspapers and, on the other hand, of the evaluation of the impacts that specific projects can have on biodiversity and how they can be compensated. Newspaper articles archives relate the evolution of the perceived relation between biodiversity and human activities, providing the opportunity to study the framing of biodiversity and to reveal underlying theories and popular modes of valuation. The redefinitions of what is biodiversity are reflected on the general ethical stances about what should be worried about, what should be done and how. On the other side, the evolution of Environmental Impact Assessments that are required to license infrastructure projects and the Colombians’ biodiversity offsetting rules provide a very specific and technical way to look at biodiversity. This parallel allows to understand how environmental ethics are translated by public institutions into normative frameworks that includes guidelines for their practical application, and how and why they are contested by other actors.
Problem Setting and Problem Solving in the Case of Olive Quick Decline Syndrome in Apulia, Italy
University of Milano Bicocca, Italy
This contribution gives an account of the social construction of phytopathological knowledge in the case of olive quick decline syndrome (OQDS) in Apulia, Italy. Due to the economic, cultural, and social importance of the olive crop, the spread of this disease has been characterized by a social debate over the implementation of mandatory phytosanitary policies, the etiological role played by the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa, the role of scientific experts, and the unexplored research trajectories (“undone science”) proposed by social and environmental movements. We examine how the disease has generated different approaches to problem setting and problem solving, one focused on OQDS as a complex of symptoms uniquely caused by X. fastidiosa, and the other framing the study of “complesso del disseccamento rapido dell’olivo” (CoDiRO) as a complex of causes. Drawing on a 2-year ethnographic study among researchers, policymakers, agricultural stakeholders, and social movements, this article uses theoretical concepts from the sociology of knowledge, sociology of scientific knowledge, and sociology of ignorance to examine the case and to reconstruct the 360° approach proposed by social movements as an alternative to the epistemic and political reductionism of official phytosanitary and science policies.
Proposing a New Approach in Explaining and Predicting Public Support for Protected Areas
1Anglia Ruskin University, United Kingdom; 2Aston University, Business School, Birmingham; 3Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge
In the past 3 years over 100 new Protected Areas have been established in European territory and support from local communities is essential in order to secure their effectiveness. The management of Protected Areas is often obstructed by conflicts mainly associated with social impacts imposed on local communities due to their establishment. In this paper we would like to present a new approach in explaining public support for protected areas by bringing together theoretical contributions from the fields of environmental sociology, environmental psychology, public policy and ecosystem services. Our main argument is that an individual’s decision to support a protected area is depended on the level of perceived social impacts following the designation and that these perceptions are bounded by the specific socio-ecological environment where this decision is taken. Thus, ecological factors, including the provision of ecosystem services, the local economic environment, the management framework proposed and also the social structure of a community (eg norms, values) and individual characteristics are expected to significantly influence the level of social impacts perceived by citizens and as a result the level of support for a Protected Area. Improving our ability to identify key factors influencing these perceptions will allow practitioners to design policy actions in order to minimize negative impacts and increase public support for Protected Areas. This work is funded by the European Research Council (Project FIDELIO: Forecasting social impacts of biodiversity conservation policies in Europe, Grant no. 802605).
Turning Nature Into An Asset: Corporate Rent-Seeking Strategies
Open University, United Kingdom
Since the turn of the century, global agendas for nature conservation have become increasingly framed by financial concepts. The metaphor ‘natural capital’ has been widely taken up for evaluating and protecting natural resources, initially by The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) initiative in its 2008 report and later by UNEP at the Rio+20 Earth Summit. As its problem-diagnosis, Nature remains invisible in normal economic accounting and thus neglected as expendable, so a formal valuation must render it visible. Valuation methods have been formalised by business organisations jointly with non-governmental conservation organisations (NGCOs). In particular, their joint Natural Capital Protocol provides ‘a comprehensive guide to measuring and valuing natural capital in business decision-making’. Through its methods, natural capital assessment (NCA) evaluates how a business depends on ecosystem services, as essential conditions of production for market-based economic activity. Ecosystems are generally maintained by everyday social labour, yet this becomes reified as properties of thing-like ‘natural capital assets’, thus relegating local communities to the role of fellow dependants.
In this framework, natural capital needs a holistic responsible investment manager through corporate environmental stewardship. This agenda facilitates rent-seeking, e.g. a company more predictably, favourably appropriating natural resources, almost as if they were proprietary. This paper will supplement such analysis with case studies of three companies’ supply chains: Kering’s cashmere supplies, Olam International’s palm oil, and Coca Cola’s water extraction. Outcomes for control of resources remain contingent on each context. Corporate NCA informs their strategies in several ways – by establishing a Nature/society binary, depoliticising the power relations, and promoting corporate environmental stewardship of ‘shared assets’, readily substituting for statutory environmental protection.