The Great Amnesia: The Marginalization of Least Developed Countries in Global Change Science

Led by Frank Biermann & Carole-Anne Sénit

Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are often disproportionately vulnerable to, and lack adaptive capacity to cope with impacts of the major risks associated with global environmental change. For this reason, one would expect LDCs to play a central role in global change science. But what knowledge and whose knowledge prevails in politically significant assessment reports on global environmental change?

Drawing on from quantitative and qualitative data on scientific articles and conferences, this project will study the representation of Southern researchers and the interests of the LDCs in scientific knowledge production on the Anthropocene, focusing on different science-policy interfaces (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Global Sustainable Development Report) and networks (Earth System Governance, Future Earth, Geoengineering) engaged in global change science.

The study of knowledge production is crucial to the understanding of power dynamics in intergovernmental policymaking on sustainable development. Indeed, knowledge results from an inherently plural, contestable, and political process underpinned by a multiplicity of values, ideologies, and interests (Jasanoff, 2016), and ultimately shapes how the issues it seeks to represent are engaged with politically. With the study, we will therefore explore the extent to which the global norms designed on the basis of scientific advice are likely to be responsive to the specific challenges faced by LDCs in the Anthropocene.