Monday, 7 December 2009

Pre COP post from Diana Liverman

Last week I was with several hundred social (mostly political) scientists at the annual Earth System Governance (ESG) conference hosted by Frank Biermann and his group at VU-IVM Amsterdam (ESG). The ESG project is a new international collaboration of the International Human Dimensions Programme (IHDP) which focuses on different approaches to understanding the governance of global environmental issues. The conference web site has many of the papers posted in full, and I especially enjoyed presentations by some of the graduate students who combined theory with empirical case studies. But it was also a good opportunity to hear some of the leading IR scholars like John Drysek and Ron Mitchell, and to catch up with some friends and colleagues like Max Boykoff, Kate Brown and Esteve Corbrera. Everyone was talking about prospects for Copenhagen with a mix of optimism and pessimism. The conference was held at a fairly rural conference center surrounded by cows and canals - but the weather was grey and rainy and did not help me feel healthier (I have a cough).

After chairing a session on the governance of agriculture in the morning I travelled to London in time to participate in an event at the Royal Academy of Art where my friend David Buckland (Cape Farewell) is one of the curators of a wonderful exhibition 'Earth: Art of a Changing World'. Opening a couple of days ago, the evening event brought together artists and scientists to converse in front of different exhibits and to answer questions from the public. I was asked to talk about the work I've done with the arts and cultural sector. The most powerful pieces in the exhibition (see photos to right) for me were Antony Gormley's Amazon Field (hundreds of small clay figures staring at you - you want to apologize to them) and Cornelia Parker's Heart of Darkness (made from burnt trees from a wildfire).

And I almost forgot that I was very happy that the commentary about the 4 degrees conference that I helped ECI to organize in September came out in Nature this week (New, Liverman and Anderson (

Finally, our colleagues at Julie's Bicycle are already in Copenhagen participating in discussions about the cultural sector. More than 100 music execs signed a letter and committed to an industry green spring to reduce emissions.

Diana Liverman
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