Abstract

At the 2010 negotiations of the Conference of the Parties (COP10) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) for a decision on biofuels and bio-diversity, biofuels were portrayed as holding many different, conflicting characteristics. Using Callon's (1986) concept of translation, we find that the COP10 biofuel negotiations failed to advance beyond the first moment of translation, problematization, when actors are defined in relation to each other. We trace attempts by various actors to fix the identity of biofuels throughout the negotiations, using strategies such as rendering political issues “technical,” relying on formal text to stabilize contested identities, and restricting the sources of knowledge relied upon. We suggest that the CBD parties experiment with new strategies, taking advantage of the COP's legal flexibility and the CBD's institutional history of engaging with the political nature of scientific knowledge.

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