First thematic assessment on pollination: between the legitimization of IPBES and tensions regarding the selection of knowledge and experts

Duperray Fanny, Hrabanski Marie, Oubenal Mohamed. 2017. First thematic assessment on pollination: between the legitimization of IPBES and tensions regarding the selection of knowledge and experts. In : The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Meeting the challenge of biodiversity conservation and governance. Hrabanski Marie (ed.), Pesche Denis (ed.). Abingdon : Routledge, pp. 211-227. (Routledge Studies in Biodiversity Politics and Management) ISBN 978-1-138-12125-6

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Abstract : IPBES, which some experts classify as an “IPCC-like mechanism for biodiversity” (Larigauderie and Mooney, 2010), is a recent institution in search of recognition. One of the keys of that recognition is to be based on IPCC procedures to ensure the credibility1 of the assessments it wishes to produce. In addition to the credibility guaranteed by the reviewing procedures inherited from the climate research community, such recognition presupposes the nomination of experts that is both fair – in terms of the geographical distribution of the experts – and transparent, so as to guarantee that the results obtained are as legitimate as possible (Mitchell et al., 2006). When IPBES prioritized the main lines of its work program in December 2013, it opted to assess pollination. The pollination topic offered the advantage of having already been studied in connection with several projects coordinated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). An appraisal was therefore already available, and some expert networks had been identified beforehand. In addition, the subject had already been touched upon within the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and its coverage in a science-policy interface should make it possible to arbitrate on existing scientific controversies. From that standpoint, IPBES became the ideal arena for coordinating an assessment of the stakes involved in several regime complexes (food security, agriculture, biodiversity, trade, etc.). The long-standing sociotechnical controversy (Bonneuil, Joly & Marris, 2008) regarding the use of neonicotinoids and their effect of causing excess mortality of bees could have been clearly expressed within the recent platform. However, we will show that the institutionalization of controversy though IPBES procedures and the IPBES expert selection process tend to attenuate the controversy on pesticides. Indeed, in 2014, a controversy was unleashed when the names of the 62 experts selected to produce the first report on “pollination and the role of pollinators” became known. Among them, two were experts working for the agrichemical firms Syngenta and Bayer. Many scientists felt at the time that the selection of these two experts constituted a conflict of interest, which more widely endangered IPBES and its ability to produce a credible assessment. Conversely, some other experts saw this situation as a way of taking different types of knowledge into account. Even others felt that including these stakeholders in the report would also facilitate dissemination of the results within agrichemical companies. This controversy primarily highlighted the close linkages between science and policy in a knowledge selection process like that of IPBES. In fact, the science-policy interface concept is widely used in environmental arenas to qualify hybrid forums where scientists, experts and decision makers interact to select and organize types of knowledge in processes used to frame standards and public action (Koetz et al., 2008; Sarkki et al., 2013). This conceptualization presupposes the existence of two independent “worlds”, i.e. science and policy, separated by boundaries. This situation has enabled certain organizations or bodies to play a key role in organizing exchanges between science and policy (Guston, 2001; Van Egmond and Bal, 2011). The first part of this paper examines this close linkage by analyzing national and transnational policy stakes linked to placing the pollination issue on the IPBES agenda. This enabled us to enhance the way we perceived the role of IPBES in the biodiversity regime complex. In the third section of this chapter, we show how IPBES framed the long-standing sociotechnical controversy on the role of pesticides in the decline of pollinators, notably regarding conflicts of interest that this controversy has given expression to within IPBES. Lastly, we propose to go beyond the science versus policy dichotomy by showing that the process used to select scientific experts was also particularly political insofar as the scientific and policy positions of the experts were taken into account in their recruitment. This selection process leads to attenuation of the debate on the sociotechnical controversy.

Mots-clés Agrovoc : Pollinisation, Politique de l'environnement, Coopération internationale, Biodiversité, Gestion des ressources, Agro-industrie, Valeur d'estimation, Évaluation

Mots-clés complémentaires : Expertise

Classification Agris : P01 - Nature conservation and land resources
F63 - Plant physiology - Reproduction
U30 - Research methods

Champ stratégique Cirad : Axe 6 (2014-2018) - Sociétés, natures et territoires

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