Social equity and pluralism in Nature-based Solutions: Practitioners' perspectives on implementation

Tallent, Theodore and Zabala, Aiora (2024). Social equity and pluralism in Nature-based Solutions: Practitioners' perspectives on implementation. Environmental Science & Policy, 151, article no. 103624.



The need to include pluralistic values of nature in conservation projects, including Nature-based Solutions (NbS), has become evident, and calls for value pluralism have gained traction. However, it is unclear how this can be implemented in practice. We explore how pluralism and related social equity are incorporated by practitioners involved in the governance of NbS, analysing five cases identified as exemplary by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. We develop a conceptual framework of social equity founded on five components: recognition, participation, distribution, rights, and accountability. This framework guides our analysis of primary data from in-depth interviews and secondary data from project reports. We discuss how practitioners assimilate these components in their practices and in the design of governance processes. The results indicate a strong commitment to participation and local communities’ involvement, evidenced by specific practices across the projects, although at times driven by individuals rather than institutionally. Processes were conceived to foster actor participation, including those in vulnerable positions; build local capacity and strengthen ownership. Approaches to local communities’ involvement typically begin by eliciting their views and values to design projects with ecological and social benefits. We discuss good practices, like extensive stakeholder mapping, citizen committees to represent local views, and multi-stakeholder platforms to articulate and communicate people’s views and values. The findings underscore the need for a more comprehensive governance approach following an enhanced concept of pluralism that, beside considering plural values of nature and beyond social equity, includes diverse voices, perspectives and forms of knowledge in conservation governance.

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