Call for Papers: 2019 Mexico Conference on Earth System Governance

Urgent Transformations and Earth System Governance: Towards Sustainability and Justice

Oaxaca, Mexico, 6 – 8 November 2019

The conference is hosted by the National Autonomous University of Mexico and the Earth System Governance Project.

Key Dates:

  • Deadline for paper abstracts8 March 2019
  • Deadline for innovative sessions: 1 April 2019
  • Notification of acceptance: 5 April 2019
  • Full papers due: 15 October 2019

The 2019 Mexico Conference stands in a long tradition of global conferences on earth system governance, from Amsterdam (2007 and 2009) to Colorado (2011), Lund (2012), Tokyo (2013), Norwich (2014), Canberra (2015), Nairobi (2016), Lund (2017), and Utrecht (2018).

Conference Streams

The 2019 Mexico Conference will be organized around the five analytical lenses structuring the new earth system governance research agenda, as captured in the 2018 Science and Implementation Plan; and a sixth stream focusing on specific issues and challenges relevant to the Latin American region. Abstracts can thus be submitted to one of the following six conference streams:

Architecture and Agency. We invite papers that address institutional frameworks and actors implicated in earth system governance and how these institutions and actors resist or respond to change and evolve overtime. Core questions include: How are environmental issues influenced by complex global networks across sectors, scales and decision-making arenas? What are the implications for earth system governance of growing diversities and power disparities among agents? What forms of architecture and agency are most effective in earth system governance? Which changes and new developments of global governance architecture are needed to address the challenges posed by global environmental change?

Democracy and Power. We invite papers that address how old and new conceptions of democracy and power can make sense of, and craft responses to, trends in collective problem-solving in earth system governance. Core questions include: What is the nature of the relationship between democracy and sustainability in earth system governance? Does the Anthropocene exacerbate existing power inequalities or create new opportunities for the legitimate exercise of power? How do power asymmetries in earth system governance affect management of the commons and transformations towards sustainability?

Justice and Allocation. We invite papers that normatively or empirically address the justice and allocation of resources, rights and access in earth system governance. Core questions include: which new demands for justice and allocation are emerging in the context of profound transformations of the earth system? What types of steering have been effective towards implementing various conceptions of justice and allocation? Who bears the costs and benefits of transformations towards sustainability and how are rights and livelihoods affected?

Anticipation and Imagination. We invite papers that address how to govern proliferating anticipation processes that seek to imagine and govern future sustainability challenges, as well as how anticipation and imagination themselves become sites of politics. Core questions include: How do processes of anticipation and imagination interact with each other in shaping efforts to steer societies towards more sustainable futures? What kinds of institutions and practices underpin processes of anticipation and imagination? To what extent are ongoing processes of anticipation legitimate and inclusive, and what are their geopolitical implications? Which are the most relevant differences in the processes/capacities of anticipation and imagination among different actors and groups in the global North and South?

Adaptiveness and Reflexivity. We invite papers that address how societies can navigate change towards global sustainability in an adaptive and reflexive way and what are the opportunities, barriers and trade-offs. Core questions include: How can adaptiveness and reflexivity as qualities of earth system governance be assessed and compared? What kind of governance attributes (e.g. polycentricity or centralization, flexibility or stability) are best suited to cultivating adaptiveness and reflexivity? Which factors enhance or hinder adaptiveness and reflexivity in diverse cultural and economic contexts? Do socio-environmental conflicts and social movements favor or halt adaptiveness and reflexivity?

Socio-environmental impacts of economic globalization in the developing world. Environmental performance of countries across the global North and South increasingly diverge. While some countries in the global North, such as in Europe, are reducing their ecological footprints domestically, this may occur at the expense of other countries in the global South which are losing key ecosystems and natural resources of local and global significance at increasingly rapid rates. The renewed prominence of extractive activities is leading to rapid losses of biodiversity, carbon sinks and water reserves in Latin America, Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. These regions have become large net exporters of commodities, including food, minerals and energy, often under the control of transnational corporations and financial markets. Core questions include: What changes in the architectures of the earth system governance are needed to effectively protect key ecosystems based in the global South, while furthering environmental justice? Which are the roles of different actors (governments, markets, civil society) in the transformation of earth system governance towards sustainability and environmental justice in developing countries, and which forms of agency are required?

Additional information

The organizers are undertaking all efforts to secure travel support for participants who are based at institutions in developing countries and for early-career researchers. To the extent that travel funds are available, they will be disbursed on merit basis according to the relative ranking of the abstract. Acceptance of a paper for presentation does not guarantee travel support.

More information on the Earth System Governance Project can be found at

Twitter: #ESG2019

Earth System Governance — a global research alliance, is the largest social science research network in the area of governance and global environmental change. The Earth System Governance research alliance takes up the challenge of exploring political solutions and novel, more effective governance mechanisms to cope with the current transitions in the biogeochemical systems of the planet. The normative context of this research is sustainable development; earth system governance is not only a question of institutional effectiveness, but also of political legitimacy and social justice.

The Earth System Governance Project is a core project of Future Earth.