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Framing global biodiversity: IPBES between Mother Earth and ecosystem services

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487-496
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental science & policy
Early online date3 Jun 2015
Accepted/In press10 May 2015
E-pub ahead of print3 Jun 2015
PublishedDec 2015


King's Authors


The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is an emerging expert advisory institution that aims at tackling the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services. Building on the experience of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and on previous biodiversity-related assessments, IPBES aspires to create a new type of science–policy interface: achieving balance between developed and developing countries, and being inclusive of different disciplines and knowledge-systems. While competing framings and discourses about biodiversity are expressed in these global settings, IPBES has also adopted a single conceptual framework to support its work. Yet, this process was punctuated by many debates and the notion of ‘ecosystem services’ was contested. This paper uses Sciences and Technology Studies (STS) concepts and methods to investigate the development of the IPBES conceptual framework during the period 2012–2014. In particular we ask whether, and how, debates amongst participants about the nature of knowledge, the relationship between humans and nature, and about the meaning of ‘ecosystem services’ were reconciled through this process. We discuss what is achieved by the IPBES conceptual framework and whether it could prove itself a boundary object. Our findings serve to highlight the multiple ways in which the science–policy interface is being imagined and to reveal some of the challenges awaiting biodiversity governance as ontological and epistemic plurality are embraced at a global scale.

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