Studying benefit-sharing from the bottom up
This chapter sets the scene for the research presented in the rest of the book. It begins by noting that benefit-sharing opens a window on a host of matters that are at the forefront of debates in global environmental governance today: the roles of local communities in conservation; rules for their consultation and consent; the consequences of globally defined policies in local realities; and questions of participation and democratic decision-making.
To lay the foundations for a bottom-up study of benefit-sharing that touches on all of these questions, Chapter 1 provides a brief overview of the concept and its presence in international environmental law, particularly within the Convention on Biological Diversity. It also situates the study in an interdisciplinary perspective, covering scholarship on norm diffusion from law, sociology and international relations, and on global environmental politics and its local effects from socio-legal studies, environmental politics, and political ecology, as well as work on community-based natural resource management. A constructivist, bottom-up methodology which focuses on how meanings are built around issues linked to benefit-sharing in local communities is outlined on the basis of the findings and gaps in the existing literature. Methods and ethical questions are also touched upon.