Tommaso Venturini, research fellow at the Sciences Po Medialab, is the scientific coordinator of EMAPS, the only social sciences project among the 12 winners of the 2015 "Étoiles de l’Europe" prize (Fr) that recognises research teams for their commitment to Europe.
We asked him to explain how EMAPS and his current project, the Climate Negotiations Browser, help represent and make sense of climate change issues.
- What is the EMAPS project?
Tommaso Venturini: EMAPS is a collaborative project funded by the European Union. Six laboratories worked for three years to develop about thirty maps that describe the climate adaptation debate, brought together on a website. The project's originality lies in its method. Climate-related issues are complex, controversial and difficult to represent. To create maps that are both understandable and comprehensive, we adopted the sprint method inspired by hackathons. The idea is to bring together people from very different fields, including developers, sociologists and media experts. Using data that we have carefully prepared beforehand, they work together for a week to produce effective visuals for all those interested in climate adaptation: journalists, experts, NGOs, etc. That is what you can see on the EMAPS website.
- You followed up this work with another project called the Climate Negotiations Browser. Why map climate negotiations, and how?
T. V.: The idea came to us when talking to COP negotiators. They told us there was no means to find their way around the history of climate discussions. The United Nations began working on a framework convention on climate change in 1992, and you can imagine the huge volume of reports that have been amassed in the “Earth Negotiations Bulletin” over 23 years. It was almost impossible to search for information in the kilometres of pdf files. We thought we could use digital technology to put some order in all this material. By exploiting and indexing the information, we created the Climate Negotiations Browser where you can search using several filters: topics, countries, etc. It also provides a graphical representation of how the various negotiations have developed.
- Who is this tool for?
T. V.: All observers and negotiators involved in climate conferences, journalists, and engaged citizens. Climate negotiations now touch on an extremely broad range of topics, from trade to forests to industry. All these topics are discussed in parallel in simultaneous negotiations, and progress on one issue can block another. It has become very complicated. With this tool, which is still a prototype, we hope to offer negotiators a clearer picture.