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What Kind of Knowledge for Effective Biodiversity Policy? Professor Brian Wynne Professor Brian Wynne, ESRC Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics,

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Presentation on theme: "What Kind of Knowledge for Effective Biodiversity Policy? Professor Brian Wynne Professor Brian Wynne, ESRC Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics,"— Presentation transcript:

1 What Kind of Knowledge for Effective Biodiversity Policy? Professor Brian Wynne Professor Brian Wynne, ESRC Centre for Economic and Social Aspects of Genomics, CESAGen Lancaster University International Mechanism of Scientific Expertise on Biodiversity, IMoSEB European Consultation European Consultation Geneva, th April 2007

2 What Kind of Biodiversity? “Measures of biodiversity vary in scale and purpose. They extend beyond the species level to encompass entire habitats and ecosystems, and can also focus more narrowly on the details of populations and genres. No one measure is best for all purposes. A broad suite of measures is necessary to meet specific needs [but the sheer multiplicity of current measures contributes to the difficulty of building public awareness and understanding]” Measuring Biodiversity for Conservation, Royal Society report, 2004, p.vii.

3 Effective policy knowledge means also listening to ‘policy actors’: Two-way communications essential: not just science  policy Two-way communications essential: not just science  policy What is salient to measure? Worth measuring? Measurable? What is salient to measure? Worth measuring? Measurable? What imagined uses of knowledge? Ends or purposes of knowledge- generation? And how does this affects knowledge-needs? What imagined uses of knowledge? Ends or purposes of knowledge- generation? And how does this affects knowledge-needs? How does this affect what counts as salient? Hence as criteria of valid knowledge? How does this affect what counts as salient? Hence as criteria of valid knowledge? Example of UK Environment Agency & Fly-fishers as amateur experts Example of UK Environment Agency & Fly-fishers as amateur experts Thus local saliency and validity important - & scientifically substantive Thus local saliency and validity important - & scientifically substantive But so is global circulation, connection, exchange, standardisation But so is global circulation, connection, exchange, standardisation Hence structural tensions between global standards and flows, and local variation and grounding Hence structural tensions between global standards and flows, and local variation and grounding

4 Sharing and knowledge transfer FLY- FISHING Policy Change Publicity High quality data – q & q Citizen scientists – technical differences with EA science Conservation action New audiences Alleviate taxonomic deficits Publications National resource - NHM profile Forum for discourse Recording schemes

5 What Counts as Effective (‘Sound Science’) Biodiversity Knowledge ? Precision (n decimal points, or order of magnitude?) Precision (n decimal points, or order of magnitude?) Comprehensiveness (centre-mainstream only, or including margins?) Comprehensiveness (centre-mainstream only, or including margins?) Accuracy (what baselines?) – eg, indicator-species, or communities? Accuracy (what baselines?) – eg, indicator-species, or communities? Scope (universality, standardisation) Scope (universality, standardisation) Consistency Consistency Temporality Temporality Revise-ability Revise-ability Calibrated to (envisaged) use(s): use-ability Calibrated to (envisaged) use(s): use-ability – What uses? Which users? – What end-points?

6 What-Who Affects, or Protects, Biodiversity? D - P - S - I - R D - P - S - I - R ‘Policymakers’ ? - Global, national, local.... ‘Policymakers’ ? - Global, national, local.... Land-use ? – habitats, corridors, etc: destruction/damage Land-use ? – habitats, corridors, etc: destruction/damage Conservation practices and policies Conservation practices and policies Socioeconomic ‘lifestyle’ drivers and pressures Socioeconomic ‘lifestyle’ drivers and pressures Instrumentalising biodiversity Instrumentalising biodiversity –Exploiting biodiversity ‘in order to protect it’ (UN CBD) –Bio-prospecting –Measuring Biodiversity to protect it? or to exploit it commercially? Royal Society 2004 report Royal Society 2004 report Different ends require different measures, thus different knowledge(s) Different ends require different measures, thus different knowledge(s) Different taxonomic systems; different corresponding social forms? Different taxonomic systems; different corresponding social forms? Indigenous knowledges of ‘biodiversity’…. Indigenous knowledges of ‘biodiversity’….

7 ‘Indigenous’ Biodiversities and Knowledges Important under UN CBD… Important under UN CBD… – but ‘indigenous’ is not just ‘exotic’. It is grounded, practical, and universal Nature as instrumental object (whichever taxonomy used) Nature as instrumental object (whichever taxonomy used) –Thus empty of its own meaning, and standing or value? Or ‘other’ subject? Thus with its own ethical-moral standing Or ‘other’ subject? Thus with its own ethical-moral standing Combinations of objective and (inter-)subjective relations… Combinations of objective and (inter-)subjective relations… Diverse, decentralised relations/responsibilities, or ‘global’ ones only? Diverse, decentralised relations/responsibilities, or ‘global’ ones only? Indigenous knowledges often embodied in practices, and informal Indigenous knowledges often embodied in practices, and informal –Hence difficult to record/recognise in scientific, mobile forms –But formal scientific databases have somehow to respect this, in uses if not in formal substance

8 ‘Indigenous’ Biodiversity Stakeholders – CBOL negotiations of needs and science For higher animals, CO1 selected as ‘universal’ genetic marker. Its universality under question: e.g. alternative markers already used in South America (questions of standardisation and governance) For plants, multiple genetic markers selected by CBOL’s Plant Working Group: DNA bar-coding still an experimental technique – will it work for defined purposes? Eg species identification alone or evolutionary and ecological approaches to biodiversity – what does barcoding contribute? CBOL promises global database (BOLD), organised by standard biomarkers and connected to global users-publics by hand held sequencers: immediate global digital archiving and access Relations between DNA barcode gene-sequence molecular biomarkers, and ‘biodiversity’ ? Do different local purposes-uses mean different selections of marker? So, global standardisation-comprehensiveness?

9 “the accurate naming of biological specimens is an essential activity in many areas of science and can present a bottleneck that impedes progress: identification by traditional methods is a time-consuming business… The development of universal DNA barcodes provides an opportunity to overcome this constraint by enabling rapid and unequivocal identification on the basis of DNA sequences” (Cowan et al, 2005) Note not only faster, it is claimed, but “unequivocal” – so better science….?? How will the relationship between vernacular biodiversity knowledge/practice and molecularised, digitised, high- tech approaches develop? How will the relationship between vernacular biodiversity knowledge/practice and molecularised, digitised, high- tech approaches develop? – questions of interoperability + accessibility? – questions of interoperability + accessibility?

10 “Taxonomy at a Crossroads: science, policy and publics in biodiversity” Interdisciplinary ESRC funded research project: Lancaster University and NHM ( ) Interdisciplinary ESRC funded research project: Lancaster University and NHM ( ) Sociology of Scientific Knowledge and Science Studies Sociology of Scientific Knowledge and Science Studies Exploring the shifts in taxonomic sciences towards molecurisation and digitisation (DNA Barcoding) Exploring the shifts in taxonomic sciences towards molecurisation and digitisation (DNA Barcoding) Implications of these shifts for scientific, policy and public communities Implications of these shifts for scientific, policy and public communitieshttp://www.lancs.ac.uk/fass/projects/taxonomy/

11 Effective Public Engagement and Effective Policy Knowledge for Biodiversity Existing bodies of knowledge have not been effective (Royal Society conference July 2004; IMoSEB documents) Existing bodies of knowledge have not been effective (Royal Society conference July 2004; IMoSEB documents) Taxonomic deficit – losing biodiversity faster than we can know it Taxonomic deficit – losing biodiversity faster than we can know it So, intensify existing knowledge-efforts and databases? So, intensify existing knowledge-efforts and databases? Or reconsider relations of biodiversity knowledge and society…. Or reconsider relations of biodiversity knowledge and society…. How to engage social actors in all their diverse local life-situations? How to engage social actors in all their diverse local life-situations? –some are already knowledge-actors (Amateurs as experts) –Indigenous peoples, and indigenous practices/needs –more could be; but how? –how might we need to re-imagine knowledges and ‘policies’ to encourage this?

12 IPCC and Climate: Biodiversity parallels and differences Climate not mainly terrestrial, but ocean-atmosphere Climate not mainly terrestrial, but ocean-atmosphere A dynamic, singular system ? A dynamic, singular system ? mainly physical-chemical processes mainly physical-chemical processes Science of climate based on highly physical-representative deterministic-dynamic models, focused on few key output parameters (temp., rainfall, etc), highly aggregated Science of climate based on highly physical-representative deterministic-dynamic models, focused on few key output parameters (temp., rainfall, etc), highly aggregated ……Biodiversity equivalents? ……Biodiversity equivalents? Even so, translations into local impacts and practical policy parameters extremely difficult, and questionable Even so, translations into local impacts and practical policy parameters extremely difficult, and questionable Globally-exclusive process for many years, better recently Globally-exclusive process for many years, better recently Has IPCC ‘worked’ anyway? Has IPCC ‘worked’ anyway?

13 Implementation and Effective Knowledge How might scientific knowledge undermine practical implementation? How might scientific knowledge undermine practical implementation? –Concentration, access, knowledge-agency –Recognition and responsibility; partnership –Classifications and calibrations meaningful, useable Cultural meanings Cultural meanings Local practices Local practices Agency of actors ? Agency of actors ? Persuading ‘policy’ does not equal persuading and motivating relevant publics Persuading ‘policy’ does not equal persuading and motivating relevant publics Reconciling the Global with the Local ? Reconciling the Global with the Local ?

14 Final Questions: Biodiversity Science & Policy Do we need to know biodiversity, before we can ‘protect’ it? Do we need to know biodiversity, before we can ‘protect’ it? If we expect to know biodiversity, its loss, and risks ‘well enough’ before we can act collectively - will it be too late by then? If we expect to know biodiversity, its loss, and risks ‘well enough’ before we can act collectively - will it be too late by then?


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