New articles on the nature and influence of global environmental assessments

3S member Martin Mahony has two new articles out on the nature and influence of global environmental assessments. The first, co-authored with Maud Borie (KCL), Noam Obermeister and Mike Hulme (Cambridge University), compares the knowledge-making practices of the IPCC and IPBES, the global bodies responsible for assessing science around climate change and biodiversity loss respectively. The article offers the concept of ‘institutional epistemology’ as a way to describe how certain practices and styles of knowledge-making get stabilised over time, and as a means of structuring comparisons of knowledge-making institutions. The article, titled ‘Knowing like a global expert organization’, is published in Global Environmental Change.

The second article, published with a number of fellow participants in a 2019 workshop at the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), argues that in order to understand the effectiveness of GEAs, we need to go beyond just tracking the translation of their findings into policy. Instead, we need a broader view of the effects GEAs have in the world – on policymakers, activists, participants in sustainability transitions, and on scientists and researchers themselves. The article develops a notion of empowerment to describe these multiple ways in which GEAs influence different actors. If GEAs understand their effects in the world in this way, it opens-up different conversations about how such institutions might design their processes to ensure that their empowering effects are as widely and equitably distributed as possible. The article, titled ‘Effectively empowering: A different look at bolstering the effectiveness of global environmental assessments’, is published in Environmental Science & Policy