- Global environmental governance
- Human rights review mechanisms
- Convention on Biological Diversity
- Biodiversity offsets/ecological compensation
- Social and ecological safeguards
- Institutional analysis
Niak Sian Koh’s research focuses on how biodiversity policies can be designed and implemented for effective and equitable outcomes
Koh is a postdoctoral researcher focusing on how biodiversity policies can be designed and implemented to meet our global goals for protecting and restoring nature.
Koh defended her PhD in Sustainability Science at the Stockholm Resilience Centre in 2022. Her thesis “Safeguarding nature and people: Integrating economics, politics, and human rights to transform biodiversity policies and governance”, discussed the design of effective economic policies, explored the intersection of human rights and biodiversity law, and navigated the politics and power underlying policies.
Her work highlights that a human rights-based approach provides important conceptual and political support for biodiversity governance. A range of cases across the globe and at different governance levels were used, from hydropower dams on the Mekong river, conservation projects in eastern and southern Africa, biodiversity offsets from six countries (Australia, England, Germany, Madagascar, South Africa, and the US), and the Convention on Biological Diversity as a global policy process.
Prior to joining the SRC, Koh worked with research and communications at environmental consultancies such as the Biodiversity Consultancy and the AtKisson Group. She has also co-authored conference publications for the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), the Swedish International Centre of Education for Sustainable Development (SWEDESD), and the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce (SCC). Her background includes business development and pricing analysis.
Koh holds a joint Master in Sustainable Development from Uppsala University and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, and a BSc in Business and Commerce from Monash University (Australia/Malaysia). She is a Swedish Institute scholar and a member of the Swedish Institute Alumni network.
Awards and achievements:
- Presented her research during the 2018 Biodiversity Law and Governance Day at the UN Biodiversity Conference, COP14 of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Egypt
- Awarded seed money from the Bolin Centre Research Area 8 on Biodiversity & Climate, 2018
- Swedish Institute Scholar, 2013
- Dean’s Commendation List of Monash University, 2012
News articles with Koh, Niak Sian
Research news | 2023-02-14
Biodiversity policies need to move beyond economic growth
A post-capitalist approach to conservation is key for humans to live sustainably with nature
Research news | 2022-12-20
Biodiversity offsets create dangerous incentives
Biodiversity offset schemes may shift the focus from the actual drivers of biodiversity loss and require more, not less, regulations, argue researchers
Research news | 2022-03-20
Why forest restoration is more than just planting new trees
Niak Sian Koh tells us why it’s important that forest restoration policies respect indigenous people and local communities, and how insights from human rights law can help
Research news | 2021-08-31
Want to reach biodiversity goals? International human rights law could help
A healthy and sustainable environment is a human right. International human rights law could help improve compliance with the UN Convention on Biological Diversity
Publications by Koh, Niak Sian
Mind the Compliance Gap: How Insights from International Human Rights Mechanisms Can Help to Implement the Convention on Biological Diversity
Journal / article | 2021
Humanity is at a crossroads in addressing biodiversity loss. Several assessments have reported on the weak compliance with the Aichi Biodiversity Targets by the parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). To address this lack of compliance, the challenges in implementing and enforcing CBD obligations must be understood. Key implementation challenges of the CBD are identified through a content analysis of policy do...
How much of a market is involved in a biodiversity offset? A typology of biodiversity offset policies
Journal / article | 2019
Biodiversity offsets (BO) are increasingly promoted and adopted by governments and companies worldwide as a policy instrument to compensate for biodiversity losses from infrastructure development projects. BO are often classified as ‘market-based instruments’ both by proponents and critics, but this representation fails to capture the varieties of how BO policies actually operate. To provide a framing for understanding the emp...
Safeguards for enhancing ecological compensation in Sweden
Journal / article | 2017
Ecological compensation (EC) is being explored as a policy instrument for the European Union’s ‘No Net Loss of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services’ initiative. EC is commonly associated with the Polluter-Pays Principle, but we propose the Developer-Pays Principle as a more comprehensive principle. Safeguards that are relevant to local and national contexts are needed when addressing social-ecological resilience in the face of ...