11 May 2012 - 12 May 2012 All day CRASSH, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DT



Dr Robert Doubleday (Geography, University of Cambridge)
Dr Bob Bloomfield
(Natural History Museum, London)
Dr Chris Sandbrook (UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Centre, Cambridge)
Professor Bill Sutherland (Conservation Biology, University of Cambridge)
Professor Johannes Vogel (Natural History Museum, Berlin)
Dr Bhaskar Vira (
Geography, University of Cambridge)
Dr Claire Waterton (CSEC, Sociology, Lancaster University)
Professor Brian Wynne (CESAGen,
Sociology, Lancaster University)

Conference Summary

Interaction between biodiversity science and policy at the global scale is currently the focus of considerable attention from governments, scientists and civil society. At the same time there is a rich mix of experiments in opening up biodiversity knowledge to wider publics. Initiatives range from public participation in monitoring schemes to citizen science projects and collaborative engagement with local knowledges of nature. This conference seeks to establish a forum for dialogue among those working in science policy, biodiversity science, social science and institutions such as natural history museums that are sites of public engagement experiments. Our aim is to initiate conversations at the conference that will lead to new and productive forms of public engagement with biodiversity knowledge, policy and practice.


At the 2010 meeting of the UN Convention on Biodiversity in Japan governments agreed a strategy and set of biodiversity conservation targets to be met by 2020 – the Aichi Targets. In particular intense effort is currently focusing on designing global scale institutions for managing relations between science and policy. The recently sanctioned Intergovernmental science-policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) exemplifies this approach. Using the IPCC as its main model, IPBES is portrayed as an organisation that will stimulate effective action to conserve biodiversity by generating usable biodiversity knowledge.

This conference asks a series of questions of current approaches to managing science–policy relations at a global scale. In particular, how such institutions imagine, incorporate, and respond to diverse local understandings of nature and biodiversity (such as indigenous knowledge, publics, and amateur naturalists). The conference will explore implications of taking local knowledges seriously – both as ‘inputs’ to assessments and as necessary for meaningful implementation of conservation policies on the ground.

The conference will ask what additional institutional contributions are necessary to facilitate productive engagement with diverse local knowledges. Natural history museums are taken as one possible site with relevant resources and networks for experimentation in bringing together science, policy and publics in constructive and creative ways. We will examine the potentials and conditions for bringing new relationships into being which could better combine natural history museums as globally distributed public institutions, with the various locally situated networks already engaged in various protective relations with nature.

The conference will launch a network of academics, policy makers and natural history museums that will take this agenda forward. This network will build on many existing initiatives, including the Helmholtz UfZ, Leipzig, project on Nested Networks, and the German Network-Forum on Biodiversity Research (NeFo). The network intends to foster research, dialogue and institutional innovation all of which will be oriented to understanding and promoting richer interaction among biodiversity science, policy, and publics.




Supported by the Centre for Research in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CRASSH), University of Cambridge and the Natural History Museum, London.


Accommodation for non-paper giving delegates

We are unable to arrange accommodation, however, the following websites may be of help.

Visit Cambridge
Cambridge Rooms
University of Cambridge accommodation webpage

NB. CRASSH is not able to help with the booking of accommodation.


Administrative assistance: Helga Brandt (Conference Programme Manager, CRASSH)


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk