Multiple proposals for transforming biodiversity conservation have been put forward, yet critical exploration of how transformative change is conceptualised in this context is lacking. Drawing on transformations to sustainability scholarship, we review recent proposals for transformative change in biodiversity conservation, considering the suggested goals and means of transformation. We outline the crucial role for critical social scientific inquiry in transformative change by highlighting two core contributions. First, critical social science is an analytical device that politicises and pluralises debates and second, it can help facililitate the identification of transformative alternatives. We then show how such a critical social science approach is operationalised within the CONVIVA (Towards Convivial Conservation: Governing Human-Wildlife Interactions in the Anthropocene) project to pursue transformative change in biodiversity conservation.