Transformative Change and Convivial Conservation: Possibilities and Challenges for a Transformative Approach to Biodiversity Conservation

Transformative Change and Convivial Conservation: Possibilities and Challenges for a Transformative Approach to Biodiversity Conservation

Kate Massarella, Judith E. Krauss, Wilhelm Kiwango, Robert Fletcher – Conservation and Society 2022 from: Special Issue: Exploring Convivial Conservation in Theory and Practice

Convivial conservation has been put forward as a radical alternative to transform prevailing mainstream approaches that aim to address global concerns of biodiversity loss and extinction. This special issue includes contributions from diverse disciplinary and geographical perspectives which critically examine convivial conservation’s potential in theory and practice and explore both possibilities and challenges for the approach’s transformative ambitions. This introduction focuses on three issues which the contributions highlight as critical for facilitating transformation of mainstream conservation.

First, the different ways in which key dimensions of justice — epistemic, distributive, and participatory and multi-species justice — intersect with the convivial conservation proposal, and how potential injustices might be mitigated.

Second, how convivial conservation approaches the potential to facilitate human and non-human coexistence.

Third, how transformative methodologies and innovative conceptual lenses can be used to further develop convivial conservation.

The diverse contributions show that convivial conservation has clear potential to be transformative. However, to realise this potential, convivial conservation must avoid previous proposals’ pitfalls, such as trying to ‘reinvent the wheel’ and being too narrowly focused. Instead, convivial conservation must continue to evolve in response to engagement with a plurality of perspectives, experiences, ideas and methodologies from around the world.

We are living in a time of widespread anxiety about the state of our planet, in relation to issues including climate change, social injustice, ecosystem degradation, and biodiversity loss.
These issues are largely driven by human activity, leading to many labelling the current epoch ‘the Anthropocene’ (Lorimer 2015). Growing concerns about global biodiversity loss have led many in the conservation community—conservationists, academics, governments officials, and civil society groups—to call for radical transformation in biodiversity conservation policy and practice (IPBES 2019; Wyborn et al. 2020). Transformation can be defined as a “substantial, profound and fundamental change, which requires a paradigm shift in how we relate to and manage the environment” (Massarella et al. 2021: 79). Such a shift requires moving away from approaches to transformation that O’Brien et al. (2013) label as ‘circular’ (implementing new ideas within existing power structure) and towards those labelled as ‘axial’ (fundamentally challenging the status quo).



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