Global Governance/Politics, Climate Justice & Agrarian/Social Justice: Linkages and Challenges

04 February 2016

A packed 2 days combining plenary sessions with parallel sessions in between, with a good balance between cutting-edge academic inputs and practitioner/activist interventions around the issues of resources, land, food sovereignty, environment, energy climate change and much more.

04 February 2016 to 05 February 2016
International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) Kortenaerkade 12, 2518 AX The Hague, Netherlands
Please find the most updated information on the website of ISS:  

The convergence of multiple crises – food, energy, environmental, climate change and finance – in combination with the rise of important global political economic players – BRICS and middle-income countries (MICs) – has triggered profound agrarian and environmental transformations worldwide. There is a global rush to control natural resources (land, water, and forests) in order to produce food, fuel, and energy for climate change mitigation and adaptation purposes; partly as a result of financialization of agriculture, nature, food systems and farmland. A related phenomenon is the rise of flex crops – those with multiple and flexible uses that straddle interlocking value chains, or a ‘value web’. How does one govern such complex and fluid ‘value webs’? The character of nation-states and popular claim making from below, by ordinary villagers and grassroots organizations, have in some way both been transformed.

Global governance has been interpreted in various ways. The same set of international governance principles, for instance, ‘free, prior and informed consent’ (FPIC) or the CFS Voluntary Guidelines on Land, Water and Forest Tenure (VGGT), can be invoked by fundamentally competing interests – by corporate interests or by poor villagers and their allies. All sectors and actors talk about ‘regulation’ and ‘transparency’, but they interpret these in competing and even contradictory ways. Key state and non-state actors try to influence others, and yet are influenced themselves by such multi-actor/multi-level encounters.

How do we make sense of all these dynamics? What useful information can academic researchers, practitioners, and activists give to each other? We are keen to not only map what everyone is saying about these complex converging policies and political questions, but more importantly, to also look at the intersection of social justice and global governance/politics, in an era of climate change and the continuing global land rush. That is, if one’s starting point is to seek social justice, then where do we locate questions of international governance and politics? What global governance principles, instruments, institutions, and actors can be mobilized to seek, defend, strengthen or extend social justice – and how? What are the contentious debates, and why should academics, practitioners and activists take these seriously?

Theme Clusters:

  • (I) Global Redesign Initiative (GRI), corporate take-over of (global) governance; New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition; Transnational trade (e.g. BITS, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or TTIP); market/state mechanisms in governance of food security, extractive industries, trade, and conservation.
  • (II) Intersection between climate change mitigation/adaptation policies, resource grabbing, and conflict; Intersection between multiple commodity value chains, forming ‘value webs’ in the context of flex crops and commodities; Financialization of the food system, nature, and farmland; rural-urban land use change and governance; Climate smart agriculture.
  • (III) Convergence and competition within and between BRICS and middle-income countries (MICs), and between them and the older hubs of global capital on issues around climate, agrarian, and food justice.
  • (IV) Social justice-oriented alternatives and their global governance requirements (e.g. food sovereignty, agroecology, Peasants’ Rights).
  • (V) Competing international legal and policy regimes (e.g. human rights, labour, trade and investment, environment and climate change) and competing understandings of global governance; Roles, limits and possibilities of global governance principles, institutions, actors and instruments, such as the UN Human Rights System, IFIs, UN specialized agencies (UN Committee on World Food Security or CFS), ILO, G7/G20, the UN Global Compact and corporate social responsibility schemes and their potential for realizing social justice; Governance mechanisms on transparency and accountability.
  • (VI) Intersections between social justice-oriented social movements, such as human rights, agrarian justice, food justice, environmental justice, climate justice, labour justice; rights to food.

We are organizing an international colloquium in the same tradition as our successful ISS colloquium series (see It will be a packed two-day event, from 8:30am to 7:30pm on 4-5 Feb 2016, combining plenary sessions with parallel sessions in between, with a good balance between cutting-edge academic inputs and practitioner/activist interventions. The aim is to have a respectful, critical dialogue on these issues.

There is NO conference fee. We will also be able to offer free lunches and dinners to all participants.

Keynote Speakers:

  • Olivier de Schutter, Member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (UN CESCR)
  • Raj Patel, University of Texas at Austin
  • Maria Fernanda Espinosa, Ecuador’s Ambassador to the UN
  • Godwin Ojo, Environmental Rights Action (ERA), Nigeria

Plenary Speakers:

- Nick Buxton, Transnational Institute (TNI)
- Padraig Carmody, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
- Jennifer Clapp, University of Waterloo, Canada
- Lorenzo Cotula, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)
- Ben Cousins, PLAAS, South Africa
- Esteve Corbera, Autonomous University of Barcelona
- European Coordination Via Campesina (ECVC)
Friends of the Earth
- Susan George, Transnational Institute (TNI)
- Eric-Holt Gimenez, Food First
- Samantha Hargreaves, WoMin, International Alliance on Natural Resources in Africa (IANRA)
- Susanna Hecht, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
- IPC for Food Sovereignty, Antonio Onorati
- Ryan Isakson, University of Toronto
- Ron Oswald, Secretary General, International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF)
- La Via Campesina – International
- Larry Lohmann, Corner House
- Joan Martinez-Alier, Autonomous University of Barcelona
- Nora McKeon, Terra Nova, Rome
- Sofia Monsalve, FIAN International
- Lidy Nacpil, Climate Justice
- Peter Newell, University of Sussex, UK
- Alexander Nikulin, RANEPA, Moscow
- Gustavo de Oliveira, University of California Berkeley
- Sherry Pictou, WFFP
- Jesse Ribot, University of Illinois
- Peter Rosset, ECOSUR Institute for Research & Graduate Studies, Chiapas
- Suzana Sawyer, University of California Davis
- Sergio Schneider, UFRGS, Brazil
- Ian Scoones, IDS Sussex
- Annie Shattuck, University of California Berkeley; Food First
- Jan Douwe van der Ploeg, Wageningen University
- Alberto Villareal, Friends of the Earth
- Nettie Wiebe, University of Saskatchewan, Canada
- Yan Hairong, Polytechnic University of Hong Kong

Colloquium Secretariat

Jun Borras:; Sofia Monsalve:; Alberto Alonso-Fradejas:; Zoe Brent:; Ben McKay:; Elyse Mills:; Christina Schiavoni:

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