Diplomacy in action

The journal Science & Technology Studies has published Diplomacy in Action: Latourian Politics and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an article on Bruno Latour and climate governance that I wrote in collaboration with Arthur Petersen (University College London). Work on this paper started as early as 2014, when I worked at PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency as a postdoctoral researcher. In that capacity, I was a member of the delegation representing the Netherlands during two plenary sessions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – an international body for reviewing scientific literature on climate change that was set up by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Fieldwork underpinning this publication was collected during these two plenary sessions, while Arthur provided additional empirical material from an earlier plenary session of the IPCC.

A workshop I helped to organize in 2015 was intended to bring together researchers working on environmental governance and devise plans for a special issue on Latour and climate change, diplomacy, and environmental governance. Sadly, the workshop and related call for papers failed to produce a sufficient amount of papers for a special issue with Science & Technology Studies. However, I am very happy to report that Speaking for Nature: Hobbes, Latour, and the Democratic Representation of Nonhumans, a paper by Mark Brown, who also attended the aforementioned workshop, is published together with the paper written by Arthur and myself.

Both Latour’s work on modes of existence and his theoretical framework remain relatively unexplored in the field of Science and Technology Studies, which only deepens my appreciation for the work done by Mark Brown, myself, and Arthur. I hope the reader will be able to dedicate some of his/her precious time to reading these papers.

In conclusion, the abstract of the paper written by myself and Arthur:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reviews scientific literature on climate change in an attempt to make scientific knowledge about climate change accessible to a wide audience that includes policymakers. Documents produced by the IPCC are subject to negotiations in plenary sessions, which can be frustrating for the scientists and government delegations involved, who all have stakes in getting their respective interests met. This paper draws on the work of Bruno Latour in order to formulate a so-called ‘diplomatic’ approach to knowledge assessment in global climate governance. Such an approach, we argue, helps to make climate governance more inclusive by helping to identify values of parties involved with the IPCC plenaries, and allowing those parties to recognize their mutual interests and perspectives on climate change. Drawing on observations during IPCC plenaries, this paper argues that a Latourian form of diplomacy can lead to more inclusive negotiations in climate governance.

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