Officials, scholars, and activists have long believed in improving environmental policy in developing countries by fostering desirable values and practices through networks of experts. Tim Forsyth will question this faith by arguing that all too often such networks ignore the limitations of global environmental assessments and the politics involved in producing and using expert opinion. Using preliminary evidence from Indonesia and Thailand, he will show how Procrustean advice and local agendas affect efforts to mitigate climate change, and what that can mean for the generation of greenhouse gas (through energy use) and its absorption in sinks (through forest conservation). Forsyth argues that more deliberative institutions of environmental information, judgment, and decision can better accommodate local knowledge and vulnerabilities, strike productive balances between mitigation and adaptation, and thereby address climate change in Southeast Asia in more timely and effective ways.
Tim Forsyth is Reader in Environment and Development in the Department of International Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He has published widely on matters of politics of environmental science and policy in Southeast Asia including Critical Political Ecology: The Politics of Environmental Science (Routledge, 2003); Forest Guardians, Forest Destroyers: The Politics of Environmental Knowledge in Northern Thailand (with A. Walker, Washington University Press, 2008); and International Investment and Climate Change: Energy Technologies for Developing Countries (Earthscan, 1999). He was a co-author of the chapter on climate change in the international Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005).