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The Politics of Marine Biodiversity Data: Global and National Policies and Practices of Monitoring the Oceans

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In order to protect marine biodiversity and ensure that benefits are equally shared, the UN General Assembly has decided to develop a new legally binding treaty under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Marine biodiversity data will play a central role: Firstly, in supporting intergovernmental efforts to identify, protect and monitor marine biodiversity. Secondly, in informing governments interested in particular aspects of marine biodiversity, including its economic use and its contribution to biosecurity.In examining how this data are represented and used, we will create a novel understanding of the materiality of science-policy interrelations and identify new forms of power in global environmental politics as well as develop the methodologies to do so. This is crucial, because the capacities to develop and use data infrastructures are unequally distributed among countries and global initiatives for data sharing are significantly challenged by conflicting perceptions of who benefits from marine biodiversity research. Despite broad recognition of these challenges within natural science communities the political aspects of marine biodiversity data remain understudied. Academic debates tend to neglect the role of international politics in legitimising and authorising scientific concepts, data sources and criteria and how this influences national monitoring priorities. The aim of this presentation is to introduce MARIPOLDATA , an ERC funded project, which aims to overcome these shortcomings by developing and applying a new multiscale methodology for grounding the analysis of science-policy interrelations in empirical research. The project collects and analyses data across different policy-levels and spatial scales by combining 1) ethnographic studies at intergovernmental negotiation sites with 2) a comparative analysis of national biodiversity monitoring policies and practices and 3) bibliometric and social network analyses and oral history interviews for mapping marine biodiversity science.

This talk is part of the Political Ecology Group meetings series.

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