Bridging Science and Societies for Sustainability Transformation: TRANSPATH at ESG 2023

28 Nov 2023

TRANSPATH was recently represented at the main conference of the 2023 Radboud Conference on Earth System Governance, which took place between 24-26 October 2023 in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. The event was hybrid and featured presentations, aiming to promote inter- and transdisciplinary research for sustainability transformations. The conference invited researchers from various disciplines, policymakers, and practitioners working on sustainability challenges. Innovative sessions and panels provided a format to facilitate exchange, joint learning and collaboration. 

Representatives from TRANSPATH and several ongoing Horizon Europe TCC projects BioTraCes, PLANET4B, TC4BE, as well as BioAgora took part in the conference and identified further opportunities for joint learning events. 

As part of the Transformative Change Cluster, the projects are working on similar concepts using different methodologies, focusing on leverage points, intersectionality, values, plurality, structures, and power. 

TRANSPATH members of Wageningen University, including project coordinators Francisco Alpizar and Jeanne Nel , as well as project researcher Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen and PhD student Sofia Gonnie Ryan took an active part in the event  with the following presentations:

  • Тhe opportunities and pitfalls of value-oriented transformative governance for biodiversity

Chair: Jeanne Nel (Wageningen University & Research – specialised in Transformative change for biodiversity)


  • Rosalie van Dam – Understanding power structures in value-oriented governance (BioTraCes)

  • Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen – Governing through and for relational values of nature (TRANSPATH)

  • Francisco Alpizar – Economic insights for value-oriented governance (TRANSPATH)

  • Kaisa Korhonen-Kurki – enabling learning across science, policy and society interfaces (BioAgora)

Brief summary:

This session explores transdisciplinary perspectives on value-oriented governance and how researchers can better understand processes. It takes the form of a fishbowl dialogue, with four speakers from 11 Horizon Europe projects providing five-minute inspirations. The session aims to address the underlying drivers of biodiversity loss, such as policies, institutions, and strong vested interests, and how these values can be shifted towards more equitable and just pathways to sustainability.

  • Knowledge Systems: Deliberation for Transformation: Exploring approaches for (self-)reflexivity and deliberation on the responsibility and ramifications of safe and just operating spaces for humanity and the planet

Presenters: Sofie Gonnie Ryan, Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen

Brief summary:

Reflexivity is a crucial aspect of environmental governance, as it helps address complex environmental problems. Ecological reflexivity involves an entity recognizing its impact on social-ecological systems and rethinking core values and practices. This paper explores how actors in diverse institutional contexts can acquire ecological reflexivity for engaging in change processes. It suggests that learning to systematically and inclusively reflect on their role in change and deliberate action is an essential capacity for becoming agents of transformative change.

  • Transformative interventions to strengthen prioritisation of biodiversity in decision making

Chairs: Ilkhom Soliev, Alex Franklin, Agnes Zolyomi, Jeanne Nel

Brief summary:

The panel, driven by the Horizon Europe project PLANET4B, aims to strengthen biodiversity prioritisation in decision-making to sustain species, ecosystems, and nature. It will discuss tested and emerging interventions necessary for deeper level transformations, focusing on sustainability and justice. The panel will discuss conceptual perspectives, in-depth case studies, and interventions from public, private, and community actors. It will also explore results from observational and experimental research, insights from key sectors, and the panel's commitment to active exchange and participation in other relevant panels.

  • Strengthening the international architecture for the earth system: Exploring design principles and functions

Presenters: Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen, Arthur L. Dahl

Brief summary:

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) was established 51 years ago to address environmental issues. However, the current institutional architecture has not been effective in reversing the degradation of key earth system functions. A review of literature and reform proposals has identified core principles for effective global allocation and five central functions for a strengthened international architecture. These functions could be fulfilled by consolidating a core institution or dispersing across existing institutions. Scholars play a crucial role in providing evidence-based arguments for the debate on global environmental governance.

If you want to learn more, check out this year’s Book of abstracts which contains abstracts and descriptions of the selected papers and innovative sessions from the conference.