Setting the Stage for New Global Knowledge: Science, Economics, and Indigenous Knowledge in 'The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity' at the Fourth World Conservation Congress
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Global environmental knowledge underwrites the authority of international institutions charged with managing climate change, biodiversity loss and other looming environmental problems. While numerous studies show how global knowledge gains authority at a macro-scale, few examine the everyday practices that establish authority in concrete settings. Investigating such day-to-day practices is important because concrete institutional settings may offer opportunities for resisting, affirming, or transforming global environmental knowledge and the policies it supports. As part of an 'event ethnography' conducted at the International Union for Conservation of Nature's World Conservation Congress (WCC) in Barcelona in 2008, this paper looks in detail at one important site in a high-level international study on 'The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity' (TEEB). The WCC was a site where the TEEB organisers convened three fields of knowledge-economics, ecological and biodiversity sciences, and indigenous knowledge-in an attempt to secure authority for the economic valuation of ecosystems and biodiversity. Through three vignettes, this paper investigates the differential engagement of the three knowledge communities; how these engagements reveal the processes by which global knowledge is constructed; and the political ramifications of those constructions.