IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Enabling the IPBES conceptual framework to work across knowledge boundaries


  • Ria Dunkley

    () (University of Glasgow)

  • Susan Baker

    (Cardiff University)

  • Natasha Constant

    (Cardiff University
    University of Venda)

  • Angelina Sanderson-Bellamy

    (Cardiff University)


Abstract The IPBES conceptual framework (CF) serves an instrumental value to translate usable knowledge into policy across spatial scales, alongside a normative function to engage diverse knowledge systems, promoting inclusivity and enhancing legitimacy. It has been argued that the CF operates as a boundary object, a communication and organisation tool for those working across diverse knowledge systems, designed to help them reach shared goals. The paper focuses on this claim, exploring the three core characteristics of a boundary object: interpretive flexibility, material and organisational structure, and the recognition of dissention. We suggest that too much emphasis is placed within the CF upon interpretive flexibility, whilst meeting information needs and the work requirements of all individuals, groups and communities who use the CF are overlooked. By forcing consensus, the IPBES CF ignores the critical dimensions of a boundary object. We argue that embracing the full characteristics of a boundary object will enable the IPBES to support knowledge coproduction and translation across the knowledge systems, better achieving its goal of providing policy advice.

Suggested Citation

  • Ria Dunkley & Susan Baker & Natasha Constant & Angelina Sanderson-Bellamy, 2018. "Enabling the IPBES conceptual framework to work across knowledge boundaries," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 18(6), pages 779-799, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:ieaple:v:18:y:2018:i:6:d:10.1007_s10784-018-9415-z
    DOI: 10.1007/s10784-018-9415-z

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: Abstract
    Download Restriction: Access to the full text of the articles in this series is restricted.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. repec:eee:enscpo:v:68:y:2017:i:c:p:80-86 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Esther Turnhout & Katja Neves & Elisa de Lijster, 2014. "‘Measurementality’ in Biodiversity Governance: Knowledge, Transparency, and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (Ipbes)," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 46(3), pages 581-597, March.
    3. repec:eee:enscpo:v:69:y:2017:i:c:p:22-28 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Terry Williams & Preston Hardison, 2013. "Culture, law, risk and governance: contexts of traditional knowledge in climate change adaptation," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 120(3), pages 531-544, October.
    5. Thomas Koetz & Katharine Farrell & Peter Bridgewater, 2012. "Building better science-policy interfaces for international environmental governance: assessing potential within the Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 12(1), pages 1-21, March.
    6. repec:eee:enscpo:v:68:y:2017:i:c:p:20-27 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Abson, D.J. & von Wehrden, H. & Baumgärtner, S. & Fischer, J. & Hanspach, J. & Härdtle, W. & Heinrichs, H. & Klein, A.M. & Lang, D.J. & Martens, P. & Walmsley, D., 2014. "Ecosystem services as a boundary object for sustainability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 29-37.
    8. repec:eee:ecolec:v:143:y:2018:i:c:p:153-160 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Esther Turnhout & Katja Neves & Elisa de Lijster, 2014. "‘Measurementality’ in biodiversity governance: knowledge, transparency, and the Intergovernmental Science–Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 46(3), pages 581-597, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:spr:ieaple:v:18:y:2018:i:6:d:10.1007_s10784-018-9415-z. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla) or (Mallaigh Nolan). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.