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Save the date: IOS Fair Transitions and LANDac conference and summit

Conference & Summit:
Land governance and the politics of fair transitions:
Deepening the search for social justice
IoS Fair Transitions Platform & LANDac
Utrecht, the Netherlands | 3-5 July 2024
Save-the-date and announcing the Call for sessions

Building on the successful collaboration in last year’s Annual Conference, the IoS Fair Transitions Platform (UU) and LANDac are pleased to launch this Call for a second joint Conference, which will have a somewhat different set-up from what you are used to and end with a Summit. We welcome your suggestions for panel sessions and round tables for the first two days. Building on your input, we will conclude on the last day with an experiment of democracy – a more-than human Summit. There will be limited hybrid options for participation in the Conference and the Summit.

Starting point for the Conference and Summit is the recognition that ongoing transitions in the name of climate change and clean energy are deeply unfair in multiple ways. The challenges involved in making these transitions ‘fair’ are enormous and some would say we are ‘beyond justice’ and can only limit damage. The picture is clear enough: climate policies and so-called green investments place huge burdens on people and spaces in the Global South as well as on areas inhabited by marginalized populations in countries of the Global North. Their rights are put under pressure, safeguards are lacking or not enforced, and the room to defend their lands, forests, pastures, and territories is constrained. Existing inequities are deepened.

In view of these challenges, how to do and think justice? Laws, regulations, and institutions that claim to make policies and investments more ‘inclusive’ often fail to do so. Instead they may be instrumentalized by elites, facilitate resource capture, and ‘green wash’ extractivism. The land grab debate has shown that technical and managerial approaches alone, without a commitment to justice, risk feeding into procedural dispossession rather than fair outcomes. And as ‘climate justice’ is becoming part of global transition parlance, it seems to be stripped of its emancipatory potential.

A first challenge is to uphold rights in view of the new wave of land and resource grabbing. For this, we can build on the experiences of those who have exposed land grabbing in its many guises and have protected and defended rights through land tenure reforms, advocacy, and grassroots activism. But how to think of social justice in the face of the high levels of destruction we are currently witnessing and how to face the issue of ‘extinguished’ rights? Can we extend our approach to justice to include not only protection but also restoration/regeneration and the reclaiming of vital spaces?

A second challenge is therefore to extend and deepen our understandings of social justice. There are interesting developments exploring more-than-human perspectives in debates on fair transitions. It is of particular urgency to strengthen solidarities and re-think justice in relation to past and future generations or along the lines of multispecies justice, which brings the moral obligation to consider the interests of those who cannot represent themselves in political deliberation. We propose to explore new narratives of more-than-human democracy, involving human connections with lands, natures, and their aspirations, and discuss how these could strengthen and deepen social justice. The Conference and Summit will explore both theoretical and practical implications from an interdisciplinary perspective.

Themes of the Conference & Summit
We welcome empirical, theoretical, and philosophical contributions as well practical and impact-oriented ones. A tentative list of themes has been defined for now and is to be updated in our Call for Sessions.
Carbon colonialism: A new scramble for Africa (and beyond)?– What are the (land governance) challenges of the rush for carbon credits, how could these be met, and what would it take to democratize participation in carbon markets?
Safeguards and the defense of rights – What is happening to safeguards to rights under the current climate imperative, what are innovative ways in which land governance actors and land rights activists seek to ensure some level of due diligence?
Justice as restoring, re-claiming, re-commoning– How can land governance serve a broader understanding of justice beyond protection, could/should we move beyond narrow conceptualisations of property rights as individual and instrumental?
Building more-than-human solidarities in the search for social justice– How to build on more-than-human connections with lands, rivers, trees, and other voiceless actors like future generations in the politics of fair transitions? And, how to avoid separating human and non-human actors in deepening the search for social justice?
Ecocide and social justice– How do we think about guilt, liability and the duty of care in the context of irreversible biodiversity loss? How do we determine who is responsible and how do we hold them to account? What is the power of a legal concept as ecocide?
The politics of knowledge and the politics of representation– How can marginalized ways of knowing be brought into the conversation, who can claim to speak on behalf of nature or future generations?

Key dates
The conference & Summit take place on 3, 4 and 5 July 2024. The Call for sessions will open on 15 January and close on February 15, 2024. Submission of abstracts for papers/contributions opens Feb 22 and closes on March 15, 2024.
The Annual Summer school will take place from 8 to 19 July 2024.

Please note: Visa application procedures to the EU are lengthy. We strongly advise to start booking an appointment well ahead of time.

Updates on the programme and the Summerschool will be published through the LANDac and IOS Fair Transitions websites.


Organising committee
Nick Polson (coordinator IOS FT), Janwillem Liebrand (IOS FT), Gemma van der Haar (LANDac), Julia Tschersich (IOS FT), Wytske Chamberlain (LANDac-Land-at-Scale), Harrison Awuh (IDS-UU), Joanny Belair (LANDac).