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Towards a reflexive turn in the governance of global environmental expertise: The cases of the IPCC and the IPBES

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Silke Beck, Maud Borie, Jason Chilvers, Alejandro Esguerra, Katja Heubach, Michael Hulme, Rolf Lidskog, Eva Lovbrand, Elisabeth Marquard, Clark Miller, Tahani Nadim, Carsten Neßhöver, Josef Settele, Esther Turnhout, Eleftheria Vasileiadou, Christoph Gorg

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-87
Number of pages8
JournalGaia-Ecological perspectives for science and society
Issue number2
PublishedMay 2014


  • Towards a Reflexive Turn

    Towards_a_Reflexive_Turn.pdf, 216 KB, application/pdf

    Uploaded date:28 Apr 2015

    Version:Final published version

  • GAIA_Submit

    GAIA_Submit.docx, 106 KB, application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.wordprocessingml.document

    Uploaded date:21 Jul 2015

    Version:Accepted author manuscript

King's Authors


This commentary asks what lessons can be learned from recent experiences with global expert organizations such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) or the newly established Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). It demonstrates that the role and design of both global expert organizations needs rethinking. We suggest a reflexive turn that implies treating the governance of expertise as a matter of political contestation and normative choice. The reflexive turn differs from prevailing approaches to the institutional design of expert organizations in two constitutive features. First, it calls attention to their epistemological and normative frameworks and thus, second, it opens up a space to consider and evaluate the full range of alternative institutional design options as opposed to implementing a one-size-fits-all model of expertise. Opening up options for the governance of global environmental expertise, we argue, could not only contribute to rendering it more responsive, responsible and democratically accountable but also to catalyzing different political debates about societal transformation towards sustainability.

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