Assoc. Prof. Dr. Alice Vadrot

I am an Associate Professor for International Relations and the Environment at the Department of Political Science of the University of Vienna and Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre for Science and Polic (CSaP) of the University of Cambridge. Since 2018, I am the principal investigator of the ERC Starting Grant project MARIPOLDATA (2018-2023), and since 2019 member of the Young Academy of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and Senior Fellow of the Earth System Governance Platform.

My main research interest is the role of knowledge and science in international environmental politics and within the context of global environmental negotiations and agreement-making. I want to understand the processes that lead to epistemic authority, legitimacy, and scientific and political self-evidence, which I conceptualize in terms of ‘epistemic selectivities’. I have developed and applied this concept to analyze and describe how particular representations and concepts of biological diversity are favored over others and how this is mirrored in intergovernmental negotiation settings and institutions (e.g. multilateral environmental agreements, treaty negotiations, and assessment producing bodies such as the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services – IPBES).

The overall objective of my research is to understand the different kinds of conflicts and power struggles emerging between and within states and the different epistemic communities competing for epistemic authority. This includes empirical research at intergovernmental negotiation sites of multilateral environmental agreements and global assessment producing bodies developed and designed to cope with environmental problems and related state interests.

In the past years, I have conducted fieldwork at more than 15 multilateral negotiation sites, including

  • Conferences of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), 
  • Plenaries and Working Group session of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)
  • The Intergovernmental Group on Earth Observation (GEO) 
  • Negotiations on a new treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdition (BBNJ)

I could observe how scientific and non-scientific knowledge forms -including local and indigenous knowledge- compete for legitimacy at the intergovernmental level, shaping how nature is represented, governed, and regulated at the global scale. Struggles over the concept of ecosystem services are one example. Another example is how remote-sensing can be used to support the development of essential biodiversity variables for modeling biodiversity loss. The production of global environmental knowledge is inherently political and needs attention in our study of contemporary international politics and (science) diplomacy.

In November 2018, I started my ERC Starting Grant project MARIPOLDATA, which has the objective to develop and apply a new methodology for grounding the analysis of science-policy interrelations in empirical research. The interdisciplinary and multiscale approach of the project tackles barriers between political science research and the social studies of science, with the objective to understand the emerging marine biodiversity field and how inequalities related to marine biodiversity monitoring can be addressed, studied, and reduced.

For further information on MARIPOLDATA, please visit

Contact Details

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Alice Vadrot

Department of Political Science, University of Vienna
Kolingasse 14-16, 5th floor, 5.08. 1090 Vienna
1010 Vienna, Austria