The Politics of International Assessments: The IAASTD Process, Reception and Significance
This paper explores the career of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge Science and Technology and Development (IAASTD) from its inception, the publishing of its reports, and its place in ongoing debates on global agriculture, food security, poverty reduction, social equity and sustainable development. We highlight the disputes and disruptions that characterize the IAASTD process and attempts to marginalize its findings. Following a brief review of the history of the Assessment and of the social construction of scientific knowledges, we consider five processes that expose the hierarchies and contestations that shape ongoing debates. We reveal how conflicts within IAASTD and between IAASTD and its sponsors cannot be dismissed as either technical or managerial, but instead showcase the fragility of claims that privilege productivity increases over other relations in agricultural practice. We conclude with a challenge to understanding agricultural change and its future that builds on social, ecological and political relations as constitutive rather than as exogenous to research and policy formation.