Dear GEP-ED members,

The Call for Papers of the 2018 Utrecht Conference on Earth System Governance 
is now available. Please see below. We hope to welcome many of you in Utrecht 
in November.

Best regards

C A L L   FOR   P A P E R S

2018 Utrecht Conference on Earth System Governance

Governing Global Sustainability in a Complex World
Key Research Insights & New Research Directions

Utrecht University, The Netherlands, 5-8 November 2018

We are delighted to invite you to the 2018 Utrecht Conference on Earth System 
Governance, to be held 5-8 November 2018 in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Deadline for paper abstracts:           19 March 2018
Notification of acceptance:   2 April 2018
Full papers due:                     1 November 2018

The 2018 Utrecht 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), and 
Lund (2017). In this long-standing event series, the Utrecht Conference will 
have a special status: in 2018, the Earth System Governance Project's current 
Science and Implementation Plan will be replaced by a new 10-year science plan; 
and new, enthusiastic leadership will take over the helm of our project.

This conference will hence focus on harvesting the many findings of our 
community over the last decade, combined with a bold outlook to the future and 
the next scientific challenges for earth system governance research.

Confirmed keynote speakers are Steven Bernstein, University of Toronto; Michele 
M. Betsill, Colorado State University; Harriet Bulkeley, Durham University; 
Jennifer Clapp, University of Waterloo; Peter Driessen, Utrecht University; 
John Dryzek, University of Canberra; Lorraine Elliott, Australian National 
University; Piet Hoekstra, Utrecht University; Norichika Kanie, Keio 
University; Louis Lebel, Chiang Mai University; Diana Liverman, University of 
Arizona; James Meadowcroft, Carleton University; Dirk Messner, German 
Development Institute; David Mungai, University of Nairobi; Lennart Olsson, 
Lund University; Susan Park, University of Sydney; Ortwin Renn, Institute for 
Advanced Sustainability Studies; Michelle Scobie, University of the West 
Indies; and Oran R. Young, University of California at Santa Barbara. Frank 
Biermann will present the key insights of the last 10 years of the Earth System 
Governance Project, and the Project's new Science and Implementation Plan will 
be introduced by Sarah Burch, Waterloo University; Aarti Gupta, Wageningen 
University; Cristina Inoue, University of Brasília; Agni Kalfagianni, Utrecht 
University; and Åsa Persson, Stockholm Environment Institute.

Conference streams
The 2018 Utrecht Conference will be organized around the core analytical 
problems that have structured the last decade of earth system governance 
research, while providing an outlook on emerging themes and new directions. 
Abstracts can be submitted to one of the following six conference streams:

  1.  Architectures of Earth System Governance. We invite papers that reflect 
on the complexity of governance systems in the context of increasing 
cross-sectoral and cross-scale interdependencies, and growing institutional 
interplay between environmental and non-environmental domains (e.g. global 
trade, security, technology). Core questions include: How can we evaluate the 
performance of complex governance architectures? What is the relationship 
between complexity and concepts such as fragmentation and polycentricism? How 
and why can complex earth system governance architectures be governed more 

  1.  Agency in Earth System Governance. We invite papers that build on the 
knowledge created over the past ten years and that further advance 
understanding of the actors and agents that drive earth system governance and 
the ways in which authority is granted to them and how it is exercised. We 
welcome papers on the influence, roles and responsibilities of both state 
actors and non-state actors, such as NGOs, cities, corporations, public-private 
partnerships, or science networks. Core questions are: How is authority 
shifting in earth system governance and with what kind of implications? How do 
different agents exercise agency in earth system governance, and how can we 
evaluate their relevance? Which are the emerging actors and how will they 
influence earth system governance in the years to come?

  1.  Accountability, Legitimacy and Democracy in the Anthropocene. We invite 
papers on the accountability, legitimacy and overall democratic quality of 
earth system governance. What are the sources of accountability, legitimacy, 
and democracy in earth system governance? What are the effects of different 
forms and degrees of accountability and legitimacy, as well as types of 
democracy and authoritarianism for the performance of governance systems? What 
institutional designs can produce the accountability, legitimacy and democratic 
quality of earth system governance in a way that guarantees balances of 
interests and perspectives in a world of increasing diversity?

  1.  Allocation, Access and Equity in Earth System Governance. Earth system 
governance is, as is any political activity, fundamentally about the 
distribution of material and immaterial resources and values. It is, in 
essence, a conflict about the access to goods and about their allocation - it 
is about justice, fairness, and equity. How can we reach interdisciplinary 
conceptualizations and definitions of allocation and access and of planetary 
justice? What (overarching) principles underlie allocation, access and equity? 
How can broader justice demands be reconciled with governance effectiveness?

  1.  Adaptiveness, Resilience, and the Transformation of Earth System 
Governance. We invite papers on the adaptiveness, resilience, and 
transformation of earth system governance, a theme that includes related 
concepts such as adaptation, adaptive management, vulnerability and 
reflexivity. What are the politics of adaptiveness and transformations? Which 
governance processes foster it? What attributes of governance systems enhance 
capacities to adapt or transform? How, when and why does adaptiveness influence 
earth system governance transformation?

  1.  Theoretical and Methodological Foundations of Earth System Governance. 
Finally, we invite papers that analyse the theoretical foundations and 
implications of new ways of thinking about governance and earth system 
transformations, including concepts such as the Anthropocene, earth system 
stewardship, planetary boundaries, and the extent to which they are related and 
to which they differ. Moreover, we invite papers that seek to identify and 
further develop the appropriate methods to study earth system governance, 
including papers that study options for integrating social science-based work 
with study programmes grounded in the natural sciences, computer-based 
modelling, imagination and anticipation experiments, and scenario work. 
Finally, we welcome papers that critically discuss the role of science and 
scientists in the Anthropocene, and that discuss how scientific communities can 
become agents of resistance, change, and transformations.

Types of proposals

Individual papers
We invite submissions of abstracts of up to 400 words that address either the 
main conference theme; one or more of the six conference streams; or any other 
topic that is relevant to the Earth System Governance Project.

All abstracts will be anonymized and evaluated in double-blind peer-review by 
generally five members of our conference review panel.

Full panels
In addition, we invite Panel proposals that address the main conference theme; 
one or more of the six conference streams; or any other topic relevant to the 
Earth System Governance Project.
Panel proposals must include a description of the panel (300 words or less), 
4-5 abstracts (each up to 400 words), as well as the name of a chair and a 
discussant. Please note that all paper abstracts will be evaluated individually 
in the general double-blind peer-review of the conference, with the possible 
outcome that only some papers submitted for a panel might eventually be 
accepted. Only panels with three or more accepted papers will be included in 
the programme. If fewer than three papers for the panel are accepted, these 
accepted papers will be integrated into other panels.

Innovative sessions
We also welcome proposals for non-traditional sessions, such as roundtables 
(which may include policy-makers, academics, or representatives of social 
movements and non-governmental organizations), policy games, book launches, and 
book seminars (that may discuss recently published academic works in the 
field). All non-traditional sessions can be proposed directly to the conference 
organizers by e-mail: Proposals should 
include a description of the session (1 page) and a list of participants. 
Proposals will be reviewed by the conference organizers and members of the 
review panel.

Please note that while there is no limit on the number of submissions, 
individuals will only be permitted to present, at a maximum, 2 papers.

The Special Taskforce and Meeting Day on 8 November
On Thursday, 8 November, extensive meeting space - including joint lunches and 
a special session on Science-Policy Interactions - will be provided for 
back-to-back events of our Project's Taskforces and Affiliated Projects, as 
well as early-career workshops, author writing retreats, planning sessions, 
workshops on teachings and methods, and similar events. Suggestions for such 
meetings can be submitted to by 1 April 2018 
(in exceptional cases, also later). We will ensure wide dissemination of the 
events through our network, and assist with formal registration. All interested 
conference participants can select the event they plan to participate in 
through the conference registration form.

Winter School on Earth System Governance, 31 October - 4 November 2018
Prior to the conference we will organize a five-day Winter School on Earth 
System Governance. The Winter School will focus on key concepts and new ideas 
in earth system governance research. The Winter School is meant both for 
early-career researchers already familiar with the Earth System Governance 
Project and those new to this broad research field. More information on content 
and registration will be made available separately on our conference website -

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 

Details on abstract submission and answers to frequently asked questions are 
available at our conference website

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

We look forward to welcoming you to Utrecht in November 2018!

Frank Biermann, co-chair, 2018 Utrecht Conference on Earth System Governance
Agni Kalfagianni, co-chair, 2018 Utrecht Conference on Earth System Governance

-- Utrecht University, Faculty of Geosciences, Copernicus Institute of 
Sustainable Development
-- Earth System Governance Project

-- Colorado State University, Environmental Governance Working Group, United 
States of America
-- German Development Institute, Germany
-- Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Germany
-- Keio University, Japan
-- Utrecht University, Strategic Programme "Institutions for Open Societies", 
The Netherlands
-- University of Waterloo, Faculty of Environment, Canada

-- Academic Council of the United Nations System
-- Future Earth
-- Stakeholder Forum for a Sustainable Future

Sandra van der Hel, Utrecht University

Ruben Zondervan, Executive Director
Charlotta Kjöllerström, Network Coordinator and Administrative Assistant

Twitter:                       #ESG2018

Frank Biermann | Research Professor of Global Sustainability Governance | 
Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development<>, 
Utrecht University | Environmental Governance Group | Heidelberglaan 2, 3584 CS 
Utrecht | Room 1124 | P.O. Box 80115, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands | + 31 
30 253 5580 | Skype fhb.biermann | Personal 
Website<> | Google 
Scholar<> | 
ResearchGate<> | 
Facebook<> | 
LinkedIn<> | 

Chair, Earth System Governance Project<>
Co-editor, MIT Press book series on Earth System 

Recent books:
Earth System Governance: World Politics in the 
Anthropocene<> (MIT Press 
Governing through Goals: Sustainable Development Goals as Governance 
Innovation<> (MIT Press 

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