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P30


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Development perspectives on transforming economies for nature, climate, and society 
Convenors:
Helen Hawthorne (Middlesex University)
Valerie Nelson (Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich)
Stream:
Climate & ecosystems
Format:
Panel
Sessions:
Wednesday 6 July, 13:00-13:40 (UTC+1)

Short Abstract:

This panel invites papers that critically examine evolving relationships between Business, Development, and the Environment. We especially seek empirical case studies of shifts and transformations in enterprises/economies which give insights into questions about responses to environmental concerns.

Long Abstract

The COP26 meeting in Glasgow in November 2021, and the upcoming UN Biodiversity Conference which aims to agree a post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework represent two key intergovernmental processes for the environment and humanity. Both processes have seen increasing involvement and focus on the role and impact of business, yet there are contested visions about relationships between business, development, and the environment. Many in international development agencies, governments and business facilitate private sector engagement as key to achieving the SDGs. Within business circles, the narrative emphasizes that beyond the CSR approach, business depends on biodiversity and must act to manage impacts. Among investors, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) agendas increasingly inform ratings of risks to business. But voluntary and business-led approaches are viewed as ineffective, prompting a turn towards mandatory regulation. The centrality of finance in shaping corporate behaviour has prompted sustainable finance announcements and initiatives aimed at reducing deforestation and ecological restoration Climate finance also dominated at COP 26, yet the effectiveness of climate finance projects face challenges, and richer nations failed to meet their commitments. Corporate climate reporting requirements are also rapidly evolving but questions remain regarding the effectiveness of reporting as a tool for change, per se.

Many initiatives adopt essentially reformist positions to the global economy, i.e. they seek to change individual corporate practice, without broader changes to the rules governing economies (e.g. anti-monopoly regulation, changes to corporate governance / ownership and investment rules). Voluntary initiatives are unlikely to be sufficient levers to achieve required levels of change, given the power of corporations, changing trade patterns and global geopolitics.

• What changes in thinking, processes and measures can facilitate necessary transformations to the global political economy to enable humanity to live within planetary boundaries, repair damage to nature, and achieve human rights and justice?

• What is the nature and role of business in achieving biodiversity conservation?

• What can be learned from citizen-driven initiatives and governmental policies and regulations, in terms of their response to corporate power?

• How can citizen-driven initiatives gain greater centrality in alternative economies – i.e. through trans-local linking?

This panel invites papers that critically examine evolving relationships between Business, Development, and the Environment. We especially seek empirical case studies of shifts and transformations in enterprise and economies which provide insights into these questions.

Methodology

Panelists will upload pre-recorded presentations. Convenors will ask panelists to watch other people’s presentations in advance of the synchronous discussion session(s). The convenors will also share in advance what they think are the key questions emerging from the recorded presentations which will be prompts for the synchronous discussion. The convenors will also start the synchronous session outlining these questions. Then, each presenter will give a 2min pitch summarising their key argument and another 2min in which they address one of the key questions from the convenors. After this, the discussion will be open to the audience with convenors’ moderation.

Accepted papers: