Accepted Paper:

Organizing experts. IPBES and the construction of epistemic authority.  


Karin M Gustafsson (Örebro University)

Paper short abstract:

IPBES was founded to become an international epistemic authority by organizing experts on biodiversity. This study explores IPBES organizational structure, through which expertise are determined and enrolled, showing how expertise and epistemic authority have important organizational preconditions.

Paper long abstract:

Through a study of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services (IPBES), this study explores what role organizational preconditions play for the constitution of expertise and the construction of epistemic authority. The IPBES has been described as an organizational blue print of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). By organizing the world's experts on biodiversity, IPBES set out to produce policy-relevant knowledge. However, while IPCC is delimited to organize scientific knowledge, IPBES also acknowledges the importance to find ways to synthetize different knowledge forms, including indigenous and local knowledges. Thus, for IPBES, policy-relevant knowledge is created through the enrolment of fundamentally different knowledge practices and multiple forms of experts.

In the light of IPBES's ambitions to become an epistemic authority through synthetization of heterogeneous knowledge forms, we need to revisit the classic questions of who is an expert and its relation to epistemic authority. What does expert mean for IPBES and how does the expert contribute shape the epistemic authority of the IPBES?

Based on a combination of documents and interviews, this study explores the organizational structure of IPBES through which expertise are determined and experts enrolled. Experts and expertise has previously been understood as either created relationally, or as being qualities possible to acquire. However, the result of this study shows how expertise and epistemological authority also have important organizational preconditions. IPBES's institutional design is pivotal in the making of expert and the shaping of the epistemic authority of IPBES.

Panel T073
Epistemic Regimes - Reconfiguring epistemic quality and the reconstitution of epistemic authority