The Earth System Governance Project is a core project of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP), and builds on the results of the former IHDP project on the Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change (IDGEC). Earth system governance is defined in this project as the interrelated and increasingly integrated system of formal and informal rules, rule-making systems, and actor-networks at all levels of human society (from local to global) that are set up to steer societies towards preventing, mitigating, and adapting to global and local environmental change and, in particular, earth system transformation, within the normative context of sustainable development. This colloquium, jointly organized by the National Committee for Geography of KVA and the ESG project addresses the rapidly increasing tension between food, energy, poverty and ecosystems in the tropics.

Population growth, increasing demands for food and energy, increasing competition over water resources combined with the effects of climate change will have profound effects on the drivers of land conflicts in the decades to come. We already see examples where rich countries are trying to secure their food and energy security through foreign land purchase, such as in Madagascar and Tanzania, as well as territorial extensions in the Arctic. “Land grabbing” has reemerged as an international source of conflict. We also expect increasing tensions between different sectors of society, such as urban – rural, industry – agriculture, recreation – food– energy, conventional – organic production, etc.