In early December, WIPCAD doctoral fellow <link https: www.uni-potsdam.de wipcad jennifer-bansard.html>Jennifer Bansard attended the annual <link http: earthsystemgovernance.net nairobi2016>Earth System Governance conference (ESG 2016). The ESG is the largest social science research network in the area of governance and global environmental change. The 2016 annual conference was the first in the series to be held on the African continent and took place in Nairobi, Kenya.
The organizers put a special focus on embedding the conference in the local context. Contrary to most international gatherings, the ESG 2016 did not convene in one of the city’s convention centers, but was held in the premises of the University of Nairobi’s College of Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences with the <link http: wmi.uonbi.ac.ke>Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies being the local host.
Beyond leaving a lasting impact in the form of a strengthened infrastructure (e.g. audio-systems and wireless internet), the conference fostered the engagement of African scholars. Conference fees were waived and a number of panels focused exclusively on the African continent, addressing issues such as sustainable land use and forestry, water management or energy transitions. An interactive <link https: www.facebook.com marieke.veeger videos>game jam initiated by <link http: www.uu.nl staff jmvervoort>Joost Vervoort (Utrecht University/Oxford) opened up new pathways to engage with the research findings presented in these panels. Finally, spotlight sessions allowed local research institutions such as the <link http: www.asdfafrica.org home>Africa Sand Dam Foundation to present their work.
Jennifer was part of a panel focused on network based approached to complexity in environmental governance. She presented results from a pilot study she conducted for the first paper of her dissertation on the institutionalization of coastal carbon as in issue in science and policy. In the same panel, <link http: www.svet.lu.se en ina-moller>Ina Möller (Lund University) presented a network analysis of ESG scholars and <link http: www.uu.nl staff rkim>Rakhyun Kim (Utrecht University) shared his findings on defragmentation in multilateral environmental agreements.
In conjunction with the annual conference, Jennifer attended a workshop for early career researchers at the <link http: www.acts-net.org>African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS). The aim was for young scholars to meet and discuss challenges and opportunities for moving forward as individual researchers and as a community in the field of earth system governance. Three senior scholars, <link http: lucsus.lu.se.webbhotell.ldc.lu.se index.php staff anne-jerneck>Anne Jerneck (Lund University), <link http: borlaugleap.org fellow mary-njenga>Mary Njenga (World Agroforestry Centre) and <link http: womenstudies.la.psu.edu directory ruth-mendum>Ruth Mendum (Penn State University) shared reflections on their career paths, including on gender related issues they encountered in academia.
Overall, numerous conference participants highlighted their appreciation for the sense of community that reined all week. The conference chair <link http: www.svet.lu.se en fariborz-zelli>Fariborz Zelli and conference manager <link http: www.earthsystemgovernance.org person ruben-zondervan>Ruben Zondervan were instrumental in facilitating the great atmosphere that characterized the ESG conference in Nairobi.