Cameron Hepburn

Cooperative conservation: Seven ways to save the world

Curry O., Hare D., Hepburn C., Johnson, D., Buhrmester, M., Whitehouse, H. & MacDonald, D. “Cooperative conservation: Seven ways to save the world”. Conservation Science and Practice, 2(1), 2020.

The world faces serious environmental problems. To solve them we must work together. Fortunately, humans are a very cooperative species. We have faced a range of cooperative problems in the past, and have evolved and invented a range of cooperative solutions to them—kin altruism, mutualism, reciprocity, heroism, deference, fairness, and property rights. Here, we illustrate how each of these solutions can be pressed into the service of conservation goals. Unlocking this potential will require overcoming conservationists’ current cycloptic focus on only one type of cooperative problem (the prisoner’s dilemma) and one type of solution (reciprocity). Only then will policy makers be able draw on the full range of cooperative dispositions and design more systematic and effective environmental interventions.