Local emergence and international developments of conservation trading systems: innovation dynamics and related problems — new article by Mann and Simons

Carsten Mann and Arno Simons have published a new paper enti­tled “Local emer­gence and inter­na­tional devel­op­ments of con­ser­va­tion trad­ing sys­tems: inno­va­tion dynam­ics and related prob­lems” in Envi­ron­men­tal Con­ser­va­tion (2014). You can read the full arti­cle on the Jour­nal web­site (pay-walled). For more infor­ma­tion see also the sum­mary below.


Con­ser­va­tion trad­ing has devel­oped as a pol­icy instru­ment for bio­di­ver­sity pro­tec­tion. This paper traces the emer­gence, devel­op­ment, and spread of con­ser­va­tion trad­ing, focus­ing par­tic­u­larly on the for­ma­tion and activ­i­ties of an increas­ingly transna­tional pol­icy instru­ment con­stituency, namely the actor group that has formed around the pol­icy instru­ment in its sup­port. The devel­op­ment of con­ser­va­tion trad­ing was pre­dom­i­nantly guided by a con­stituency of dom­i­nant business-oriented actors, begin­ning with mit­i­ga­tion mea­sures in the USA and mak­ing later con­nec­tions to inter­na­tional net­works with a sim­i­lar market-driven ori­en­ta­tion for envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion. By strate­gi­cally com­bin­ing agenda-driven research with the mobi­liza­tion of polit­i­cal sup­port, this con­stituency helped to estab­lish con­ser­va­tion trad­ing as a widely acknowl­edged pol­icy solu­tion applic­a­ble to var­i­ous eco­log­i­cal and sociopo­lit­i­cal con­texts. Yet, this was achieved, in part, at the cost of neglect­ing crit­i­cal issues, such as the recog­ni­tion of pol­icy alter­na­tives or socioe­co­log­i­cal or cul­tural con­text par­tic­u­lar­i­ties. Whereas the devel­op­ment of con­ser­va­tion trad­ing is some­times por­trayed as a ratio­nal process of neu­tral pol­icy learn­ing, this process, through its con­stituency, has devel­oped a life and polit­i­cal momen­tum of its own, which must be acknowl­edged when engag­ing with the design and imple­men­ta­tion of bet­ter con­ser­va­tion poli­cies. A forward-looking social pol­icy assess­ment approach is required, which opens up pol­icy design dis­courses for debate and reflex­ive engage­ment. Acknowl­edg­ing pos­si­ble short­com­ings with a broad range of con­cerned soci­etal actors can help to assure pol­icy trans­parency, add speci­ficity, and increase the sound eco­log­i­cal and soci­etal embed­ding of con­ser­va­tion trading.

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