Only what is counted counts? The politics of biodiversity knowledge - Esther TURNHOUT
Biodiversity governance is characterized by a strong technocratic orientation. Science-based data, maps and numbers are used in the representation of biodiversity and inform decision making about conservation targets and priorities. In this talk, I will offer a critical engagement with the role of science and scientific knowledge in the representation of biodiversity and the implications of these representations for how we treat biodiversity in practice. My contribution is based on the central idea that biodiversity representations are not neutral mirrors of world but contribute to the constitution of biodiversity as a measurable and governable phenomenon: they are performative. Subsequently, I will use the examples of TEEB and IPBES to demonstrate the emergence of an explicit economic discourse of Ecosystem Services and to analyse how this economic discourse connects with and complements existing technocratic biodiversity discourses. I will conclude by discussing the importance of critical scrutiny of the politics of environmental knowledge.