TwinPolitics (ERC CoG)

Digital twins for a sustainable future of the oceans

To address the urgency for action on climate change and biodiversity conservation, the European Commission is currently building a digital twin of the ocean (DTO). Digital twins are a method for analysing complex systems and developing “what-if” scenarios to accelerate the implementation of global sustainability goals. The EU DTO is part of a broader global and national effort to develop highly accurate digital models of the ocean for better policy making in the field of marine conservation.

The ERC project TwinPolitics investigates the development of digital twins as a (geo)political phenomenon that could permanently change the interface between science and politics. The focus here is on the question of whether, and if so, how digital twins can contribute to a fairer organisation of multilateral negotiations in the future. TwinPolitics will develop new methods to empirically investigate digital twins as socio-technical and political relationships and to model their emergence at the interface between science and politics. To this end, Alice Vadrot and her research group will combine methods from ethnography and computational social science and apply them to digital ocean twins in the EU, China and the USA. In order to identify which features of digital twins promote inclusion, diversity and equity, ethnographic data will be collected at different policy levels and from a variety of research sites. These will then be fed into socio-technical models. In a final step, the use of digital twins in multilateral negotiations will be tested using three examples: the International Seabed Authority, negotiations on a new UN plastics agreement and negotiations on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity.

The TwinPolitics Project will start in 2024 and run till 2029.