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Conférence – Débat : Governing biodiversity through the market - Prof Stewart Lockie, Head, School of Sociology, ANU

Du 24 au 25 septembre 2013

Governing biodiversity through the market :

assumptions and conditions for sustained social and ecological benefits

Prof Stewart Lockie, Head, School of Sociology
College of Arts and Social Sciences
The Australian National University, Canberra ACT 0200


International agreements highlight the centrality of biodiversity and the ecosystem services it provides to human well-being, but provide little guidance on how to integrate biodiversity within workable national regimes of governance. At the same time, market-based approaches to environmental governance more broadly are increasingly promoted as effective and efficient solutions to otherwise intractable policy problems. This presentation argues that the effectiveness of market-based instruments (MBIs) depends on a number of often unacknowledged assumptions about the distribution of benefits arising from ecosystem service provision, the rights and duties associated with resource access, and the fitness for purpose of various policy instruments.

Further, it is argued that the legitimacy of MBIs depends both on the demonstrability of distinct public benefit and of acceptance among the wider community that private resource users ought to be compensated in some way for the provision of that benefit. Effective provision of ecosystem services through a market-mechanism thereafter depends on a range of additional conditions including inter-changeability of supply, scalability, lack of corroboration, adequate information, financial capacity, clarity of property rights, clarity of resource access-related duties and institutional capacity. Meeting these conditions is not simply a matter of appropriate incentive design but of political decision-making, moral judgment and social learning. These arguments will be illustrated through reference to both Australian and European experimentation with market-based incentives for on-farm biodiversity conservation.

Stewart Lockie is Professor and Head of the School of Sociology at the Australian National University, and President of the International Sociological Association’s Research Committee on Environment and Society. He has written extensively on environmental policy, environmental and social standards within food commodity chains, risk regulation, the governance of biodiversity and, increasingly, climate change. In recent years he has been particularly focused on the use and consequences of market-based environmental policy instruments. Recent publications include Agriculture, Biodiversity and Markets : Agroecology and Livelihoods in Comparative Perspective (Earthscan, 2010).

Contact : Cecilia Claeys, cecilia.claeys

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