PSI research group leader appointed to GEO-7

Associate Professor Pedro Fidelman, PSI Research Group leader, has been appointed as a Coordinating Lead Author for the 7th edition of the Global Environment Outlook (GEO).

The GEO is a report produced by the United Nations Environment Programme that provides a comprehensive assessment of the state of the world’s environment. The report is released every five years and is based on a wide range of data sources, scientific studies, and expert input.

It covers a broad range of environmental issues, including climate change, biodiversity loss, land degradation, air and water pollution, and waste management. Its aim is to provide policymakers, stakeholders, and the general public with the latest information on the current state of the environment and to provide insights into the future.

One of the unique features of the GEO report is its holistic and integrated analysis of environmental challenges. It recognizes the interconnectedness between environmental issues and other global challenges such as poverty, health, and economic development. This approach is important because it highlights the need for policy decisions that address multiple challenges simultaneously.

Pedro’s appointment as a Coordinating Lead Author for the 7th edition of the GEO report is a testament to the PSI Research Group expertise in this field. As a Coordinating Lead Author, he will work with other experts to synthesise and analyse the latest data and research on environmental issues, and help produce a report that will inform policy decisions for years to come.

PSI Research Group at the 2022 IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Colloquium

Members of the Policy, Sustainability and Innovation (PSI) Research Group recently presented the 19th Annual Colloquium of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Academy of Environmental Law, held in Brisbane, Australia, from the 12th to the 15th of July 2022. The Colloquium brought together scholars from around the world in a hybrid in-person / online format, and saw over 130 presentations and numerous panel discussions across the four-day event. The theme of this year’s conference was “Re-imagining Environmental Law: Recovery, Resilience, Regeneration”.

Nicki Shumway, a Post-doctoral research fellow in the PSI research group, gave a presentation on “Building resilient and adaptive restoration policy in the Great Barrier Reef”. The presentation built on a number of research projects that Nicki has been involved in, and discussed how the framing of conservation policy (to prevent and protect marine ecosystems from harmful activities) has limited the ability of projects to do active interventions within marine parks, including for restoration and adaptation to climate change. She offered a number of lessons learned in how to move forward with restoration projects under current governance frameworks and discussed how interventions with a high level of uncertainty can progress in the Great Barrier Reef using frameworks from emerging technologies.

Rose Foster, also a researcher with the PSI research group, presented on a paper in-progress, co-authored by PSI Research Group members Nicole Shumway and Pedro Fidelman, titled “Governing marine cloud brightening: Consideration of scale and purpose”. The paper contributed to discussion about the ways in which it may be necessary to re-imagine environmental law to manage emerging technologies in the context of climate change. The specific focus of the paper was marine cloud brightening, a technology that could be used to reduce coral bleaching. Though marine cloud brightening could provide significant conservation benefits, there are currently no governance frameworks specifically designed to assess proposals, and the technology presents novel risks and uncertainties that may not be accounted for in existing frameworks. Accordingly, the paper considered the challenges and recommendations that may be relevant to its governance and how they could be applied to the context of marine cloud brightening for conservation.

Book: Wicked Problems in Public Policy: Understanding and Responding to Complex Challenges

“Wicked Problems in Public Policy: Understanding and Responding to Complex Challenges” is the latest book by our colleague and collaborator Prof Brian Head.

This book is the first comprehensive overview of the ‘wicked problems’ field, written by perhaps the best-placed researcher in the field, globally.

It appeals to academics researching this hot topic, but also to policy practitioners and those advocating solutions.

The book is open access and may be downloaded free of charge at

New paper on governance principles for conservation gene drives

This paper, co-author by PSI Research Group lead Pedro Fidelman, investigates the emerging principles for governing conservation gene drives.

Gene drive technology is an emerging biotechnology with the potential to address some of the most intractable global biodiversity conservation issues. The possibility to use gene drive for these conservation purposes has triggered significant interest in how to govern its development and eventual applications.

Drawing on a systematic literature review, we distil the principles emerging in the governance of conservation gene drive. Such review aimed to better understand the aspirations guiding these applications and how scientists and other experts imagine their responsibility in this field.

We found a collection of recommendations and prescriptions that could be organised into a set of seven emerging principles intended to shape the governance of gene drive in conservation: (i) broad and empowered engagement; (ii) public acceptance; (iii) decision-making informed by broad ranging considerations, (iv) state and international collaboration; (v) ethical frameworks; (vi) diverse expertise; and (vii) responsible self-regulation by developers.

This is an open-access paper which may be viewed at