Notes #3

The third post in a series of notes on research management, science-policy, governance of and for sustainable development, or any other topic of interest to me. These notes are an attempt to close the gap between brief tweets (@RZondervan) and longer reports, articles, or opinions.

GSDR 2019

On 11 September, the Independent Group of Scientists, appointed by the UN Secretary-General, released the 2019 Global Sustainable Development report The Future is Now: Science for Achieving Sustainable Development. More on this report and the question of quo vadis GSDR in a later post.

Looking back at the first decade of Earth System Governance

The social sciences have engaged since the late 1980s in international collaborative programmes to study questions of sustainability and global change. This article offers an in-depth analysis of the largest long-standing social-science network in this field: the Earth System Governance Project. The article critically reviews the experiences of the Earth System Governance network and its integration and interactions with other programmes over the last decade.

Frank Biermann, Michele M Betsill, Sarah Burch, John Dryzek, Christopher Gordon, Aarti Gupta, Joyeeta Gupta, Cristina Inoue, Agni Kalfagianni, Norichika Kanie, Lennart Olsson, Åsa Persson, Heike Schroeder, Michelle Scobie. 2019. The Earth System Governance Project as a network organization: a critical assessment after ten years, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Vol. 39: 17-23.

Recommend reading this looking-back at the first decade article together with the recent article looking forward to the next decade of Earth System Governance research:

Burch, Sarah, Aarti Gupta, Cristina Y.A. Inoue, Agni Kalfagianni, Åsa Persson, Andrea K. Gerlak, Atsushi Ishii, James Patterson, Jonathan Pickering, Michelle Scobie, Jeroen Van der Heijden, Joost Vervoort, Carolina Adler, Michael Bloomfield, Riyante Djalante, John Dryzek, Victor Galaz, Christopher Gordon, Renée Harmon, Sikina Jinnah, Rakhyun E. Kim, Lennart Olsson, Judith Van Leeuwen, Vasna Ramasar, Paul Wapner, Ruben Zondervan. 2019. New directions in earth system governance research. Earth System Governance Journal. Vol. 1.

The new European Commission

It seems that I was not alone in my initial response to the new portfolios of the designated new commissioners of the European Commission, specifically, to learning that research and education somehow ended up in the innovation and youth portfolio (see Notes #2). A short article in Science Magazine (11 September) “EU research commissioner named, but lacks ‘research’ in her title” by Tania Rabesandratana provides some interesting analysis.

Stumbled over …

Can declaring a climate emergency have unintended consequences? – an interesting blog-post in a series on issues of communicating science by Future Earth Communications Director Alistair Scrutton. The post highlights five serious caveats that come with the term “emergency”. The most important one in my view:

At a time when the very notion of liberal democracy is being questioned, could declaring emergencies play into the hands of populist movements or superpowers? Declarations of emergency help the belief that democratic consensus and policy pragmatism are not working, especially regards climate change. That may be true, but what is the new policy model going forward?

Alistair Scrutton

This caveat and others are obvious for anyone with a social science or communications background, but frequent reiteration is useful – especially in the Future Earth research community where social science are widely acknowledged as crucial, but social science knowledge is often ignored, and where the doom and gloom vocabulary existed for many years already, well ahead of the current #climatecrisis hype. At the same time, the blog-post raises an important questions for and a challenge to the social sciences (and society):

Those critical about climate emergency declarations need to show an effective way forward, that disrupts the current policy funk without undermining democratic principles.

Alistair Scrutton

UN High-level Week, September 2019

Some links to the various high-level meetings at the end of this month in the framework of the UN General Assembly:

Reading recommendations

Both related to geoengineering:

How do climate experts think about geoengineering? They get personal, by Sarah DeWeerdt summarizing Dannenberg A. and S. Zitzelsberger.Climate experts’ views on geoengineering depend on their beliefs about climate change impacts.” Nature Climate Change 2019. For me a slightly counter intuitive finding: “(…) experts with a science background are more skeptical of geoengineering than people with a background in economics, business, engineering, political science, or law.

Uncovering the Origins of False Claims in the Solar Geoengineering Discourse, by Jesse L. Reynolds on the Harvard SGR Blog. “The story behind a recent news article reveals how activist groups—with the media’s help—cause misleading and false assertions to arise, persist, and spread.”


#Climate Change#Earth System Governance#European Commission#Finance#Future Earth#Geoengineering#Global Sustainable Development Report (GSDR)#HLPF#Interdisciplinarity#International Science Council (ISC)#NGO-lobbying#Research Funding#Research Management#Research Policy#Samoa Pathway#Science Communication#Science-Policy#Social Sciences#UN General Assembly (UNGA)

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