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Where do ideas about conservation come from? The story of how a beach conversation became REDD+

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Ritika Kapur.

The past two decades or so have witnessed emergence of ‘new’ ideas and concepts aimed to protect the environment. These include but not limited to concepts such ecotourism, carbon offsetting, debt-for-nature swaps, ICD Ps, payment for ecosystem services, CBNRM and many more. Where do these ideas come from? And how do they become popular? Political ecologists have played an important role in answering these questions by tracing the history of such ideas and how they come to achieve discursive power. This presentation, which is about the (re)emergence of the policy mechanism of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+), contributes to this field of knowledge. In this presentation, I infuse the field of political ecology with insights from Science and Technological Studies (STS) to tell the story of how a beach conversation between two people about a difficulty of a World Bank loan propelled the spread of what has now become known as REDD in environmental governance. In particular, I trace the rise of REDD into mainstream global environmental policy arena with the attention to some of the actors, the storylines, the politics and the technologies that have facilitated the popularity of this mechanism as “the last chance of saving tropical forests” (Boyd, 2010: 845). I conclude by reflecting on how a combination of STS and political ecology as analytical lens can be a useful way of tracing the origins of the spread of environmental policy ideas.

This talk is part of the Political Ecology Group meetings series.

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