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Local Emergence and International Developments of Conservation Trading Systems: Innovation Dynamics and Related Problems

This paper traces the emergence, development, and spread of conservation trading, focusing on how this development was guided by a constituency of dominant business-oriented actors, who helped to establish conservation trading as a widely acknowledged policy solution applicable to various ecological and sociopolitical contexts. This was achieved, in part, at the cost of neglecting critical issues, such as the recognition of policy alternatives or socioecological or cultural context particularities. Through its constituency, the development of conservation trading has gained a life and political momentum of its own, which must be acknowledged when engaging with the design and implementation of better conservation policies. A forward-looking social policy assessment approach is required, which opens up policy design discourses for debate and reflexive engagement. Acknowledging possible shortcomings with a broad range of concerned societal actors can help to assure policy transparency, add specificity, and increase the sound ecological and societal embedding of conservation trading.