Access and allocation in global biodiversity governance: a review

Brendan Coolsaet (Lead Author), Neil Dawson, Florian Rabitz, Simone Lovera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
18 Downloads (Pure)


Access and allocation is one of the five analytical themes of the science plan of the Earth System Governance (ESG) project. Concerns over access and allocation are at the core of struggles and conflicts brought about by the often ineluctable trade-offs related to biodiversity conservation and the global, national and local governance systems that aim to contribute to global biodiversity conservation. Access and benefit-sharing mechanisms, integrated conservation and development projects, payments for ecosystem services or community conservation programmes have all tried balancing environmental objectives with concerns for the allocation of natural resources and associated rights within society, and for access to basic human needs. As a contribution to this special issue on access and allocation, this paper aims to contribute to the analysis of the relevance of questions of access and allocation to ESG by providing an in-depth review of the literature on access and allocation in biodiversity conservation at different scales. We describe how the concepts of access and allocation have been used and conceptualized in the literature produced between 2008 and 2018, and we discuss the two key issues which dominate the literature (1) benefit-sharing; and (2) the role of local institutions. By drawing on the trends and evidence from the literature, we consider the lessons for the next generation of ESG scholars and draw out some key policy implications to be included in the debates on the post-2020 strategic plan for biodiversity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359–375
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics
Issue number2
Early online date17 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


  • Access
  • Allocation
  • Benefit-sharing
  • Biodiversity
  • Conservation
  • Justice

Cite this