IDOS at the Radboud Conference on Earth System Governance

From 23-26 October, IDOS co-hosted the Radboud Conference on Earth System Governance 2023 that took place at Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, under the theme: “Bridging Sciences and Societies for Sustainability Transformations”.

Photo: IDOS Wissenschaftler Group Photo in front of a sign ot the Faculty of Science, Radboud University in Nijmegen, it says: Science with impact.

From left: Ines Dombrowsky, Mauricio Boehl, Annabelle Houdret, Steffen Bauer, Ina Lehmann (associate Resea), Okka Lou Mathis, Daniele Malerba, Alexia Faus Onbargie. ©IDOS

As one of the Earth System Governance Project’s regional research centres, IDOS had a strong delegation of researchers at the conference who presented and discussed their current research and engaged with participants in various panel sessions.

One of the highlights was a science-policy dialogue on global water governance in a semi-plenary titled “Bridging the gap: Science-policy dialogue on water as a catalyst for sustainable development and climate action”. Five panellists critically reviewed the results of the first UN water conference held after 50 years and pointed to major action needed for improved implementation. First, leaders should strengthen the legitimacy of global water governance by signing a binding intergovernmental agreement on action and approving a related implementation monitoring mechanism.

Second, understanding water as a global commons would require better data collection and sharing, an adequate representation of all stakeholders in decision-making, and progress in cooperation between countries and sectors, including specific water commitments in other global agreements. Scientists and policymakers also need to better collaborate so that knowledge from all disciplines can improve understanding and support implementing urgently required action. In the face of the global water and climate crisis, conceiving the resource as a global commons can be an important leverage for enabling change towards sustainability.

Photo: Attendants of the Radboud Conference under the theme: “Bridging Sciences and Societies for Sustainability Transformations” at Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.


Other highlights were panel sessions on “Governing synergies and trade-offs at the intersection of biodiversity and climate change”, “Innovative partnership approaches in international climate cooperation” and “Aligning climate action and reduced inequalities”, organised by IDOS researchers and associates.

The conference brought an interdisciplinary and vibrant research community of about 600 researchers together, discussing in particular topics of global environmental governance and sustainability transformations that reflect a core of IDOS work. Within the main theme, this year’s conference prominently featured emerging topics like including non-human nature into the sustainability agenda and scientific activism. Further, the topics of justice and especially “Just (Energy) Transitions” were of key importance, which resonates well with ongoing research projects at IDOS. De-(post-) growth has also been a present theme, as it is becoming clear that the current economic system cannot deliver the required change. Structural transformations towards sustainability and new economic systems hence need to address old injustices rather than create new ones.

A main outcome of the ESG conference will be a declaration on inter- and transdisciplinary research, planned to be published shortly. Going forward, it is critical to further increase the representation of participants from the Global South.

Please find an overview of all IDOS activities here.

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