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The European Union (EU) has adopted policy frameworks to meet its ambitious goals to protect nature and reverse biodiversity decline. The long-established Natura 2000 network of protected areas (PAs) is an integral part of the EU’s Biodiversity strategy for 2030, also in support of the European Green Deal. There is now an increased level of awareness about the EU’s responsibility towards safeguarding biodiversity overseas, e.g., via ‘deforest proof’ EU development cooperation. While these biodiversity conservation goals and policies are produced at supranational (e.g. EU, UN) levels, it is not always clear how they ultimately manifest on the ground, where conservation actually takes place. This is likely because conservation policies and interventions generate material (finance and technical expertise) and immaterial flows (e.g. discourses and knowledge), which support specific conservation approaches that interact in complex ways with local contexts in which they arrive.


BridgingVALUES aims to inform conservation policies and practices towards more equitable and effective governance by generating a better understanding of 1) the interdependencies and feedbacks between EU (and global) flows, and local governance of PAs, and 2) how these can in turn impact biodiversity and ecosystem services (BES), their values, social equity and governance in six case studies in the EU and the Global South.

  • Empirical objectives: Study how local contexts mediate the effects of global environmental policy flows (immaterial and material), and assess their social-ecological impacts;

  • Methodological objectives: Advance the state-of-the-art in transdisciplinary co-production methodologies incorporating the knowledge of stakeholders;

  • Theoretical objectives: Co-construct a conceptual framework that links conservation policies to social-ecological outcomes by exploring the relationships between flows, BES values, equity and leverage points.

Bridging Values

for just conservation.


BridgingVALUES draws on novel conceptualizations regarding the (1) telecoupling of immaterial and material flows; (2) embedded plural values in decision making; (3) social equity linked to people’s wellbeing in the protected areas contexts; (4) pathways for sustainability and justice; and (5) governing the BES-society nexus for transformative change. The project is applied in six local case studies: three in the EU (Germany, Spain, Sweden) and three in the Global South (Brazil, Laos, South Africa).


BridgingVALUES follows the « Wayfinder » and «» transdisciplinary approaches, designing pathways to just biodiversity conservation through knowledge co-production with stakeholders. Expected impacts include 1) increased awareness by managers and policy makers on the importance of bridging across different BES values and their equity implications; (2) increased legitimacy of management and policy decisions through meaningful stakeholder involvement; and (3) adaptation of PA management strategies to fit desirable pathways for more just and sustainable futures.


BridgingVALUES focuses on BES-values articulated in EU conservation policies that generate immaterial (discourses and knowledge) and material (finance and technical expertise) flows. The project aims to understand how embedded values affect BES conservation and sustainable use by stakeholders in the EU and in the Global South. The project will assess social-ecological outcomes where multi-level BES governance processes manifest. It also examines the transformative potential of feedback flows on EU policies.


  • Basque Centre for Climate Change, Leioa, Spain

  • Earth Science General Coordination, Brazilian Institute for Space Research, São José dos Campos, Brazil

  • Working Group Governance of Ecosystem Services, Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research, Müncheberg, Germany

  • Centre for Sustainability Transitions, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, Republic of South Africa

  • Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden

  • Wyss Academy for Nature, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland

1.4 Million Euro
2023-04-01 to 2026-03-31
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