NGO News Report :: The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), which was created to provide policymakers with reliable, independent and credible information on the status of biodiversity, agreed to initiate a set of regional assessments in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, and Europe and Central Asia. These assessments will be a vital contribution for a planned global assessment to be completed by 2019.
Around 700 delegates from over 270 governments, scientific organizations, civil society and the private sector attended the Platform’s third meeting, which was held from 12 to 17 January in Bonn, Germany. IPBES Member States present at the meeting adopted a conflict of interest policy and a stakeholder engagement strategy that will support the implementation of the Platform’s work programme and approved the guidance on strategic partnerships and other collaborative arrangements.
In only one year since the Platform’s work programme was adopted, more than 20 workshops were organized involving the participation of more than 500 experts and seasoned scientists, who have committed their time and energy to the cause of IPBES.
Governments established IPBES in 2012 in response to concerns about the lack of policy-relevant information to tackle threats to biodiversity. The platform’s aim is to enable decision makers to make well-informed decisions that could halt biodiversity loss, and thus promote human wellbeing and sustainable development through the sustainable use of biodiversity.
One of the first two IPBES assessments, to be available as early as December 2015, will look at pollination and food production and it will be accompanied by another assessment on biodiversity scenarios and modelling. The latter will review existing methods to model future changes in biodiversity and ecosystem services as a result of various socio-economic pathways. These two assessments will be the first in a series of ambitious biodiversity assessments that IPBES hopes will inform policy decisions.
Overall, the work of the Platform will require contributions from thousands of scientists from all over the world in the fields of natural and social sciences, as well as the involvement of indigenous people and local communities. They will work together to synthesize, review, assess and critically evaluate relevant knowledge and produce tools in order to support the creation of the best possible policies.
Malaysian Zakri Abdul Hamid, the founding Chair of IPBES, noted that in addition to addressing the needs of relevant multilateral environmental agreements, the Platform aims to improve the dialogue between policymakers and the scientific community on the critical importance of biodiversity and ecosystem services.
“As evidenced by the proposals to include biodiversity as a stand-alone target in the UN’s 2015 Sustainable Development Goals, the international community is becoming increasingly aware of the links between biodiversity, sustainable development and human well-being. The ambitious work programme of IPBES reflects the monumental challenge faced by the international community to halt and reverse biodiversity loss,” said Professor Zakri.
Anne Larigauderie, Executive Secretary of the IPBES Secretariat, is aware of the challenges that lie ahead despite the progress made in the first year of implementation of the Platform’s work programme. “The Platform got off to a good start this year by engaging hundreds of experts in its work programme and by integrating in all its functions a conceptual framework that takes into account the complex relationships between people and nature and the different value systems that exist,” said Dr. Larigauderie. “However, the rate of biodiversity loss is alarming, which makes the work of IPBES more pressing than ever.”
To strengthen the science-policy interface that will support governments in their endeavors to protect biodiversity, IPBES will draw on the expertise of four UN bodies: the United Nations Environment Programme, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the United Nations Development Programme.
Mr. Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Said, “With the launch of its inaugural set of regional and sub-regional assessments on biodiversity and ecosystems IPBES signals that it has now become fully operational and ready to deliver on the unique mandate for which it was created.”
“By providing decision makers with scientifically credible and independent information that take into account the complex relationships between biodiversity, ecosystem services and human needs, IPBES will support the adoption and implementation of adequate policies to help achieve the Aichi targets and improve the ecosystem services that underpin human development and well-being. This comes at a critical moment as the international community works towards concluding a meaningful climate change agreement in Paris and a new Post-2015 Development Agenda.”
Ms. Irina Bokova, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said, “I am very pleased with the decision by the UNESCO Executive Board to formalize the Organization’s institutional relation with the Platform, following an invitation by the IPBES Plenary. In this way, four UN Organizations – UNESCO, FAO, UNDP and UNEP – are working hand in hand in support of biodiversity, following the recommendation of the Rio+20 Conference to facilitate informed policy decision-making on sustainable development, to strengthen the science-policy interface as well as access to reliable, relevant and timely data,” said Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO.”
“The climate change conference in Paris in 2015 will highlight the importance of the conservation of biodiversity and address the impacts of climate change on biodiversity and ecosystems. I am convinced that a convergence between the efforts of IPBES and those of IPCC will strengthen the knowledge base to counteract the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem benefits – this is essential for the planet and for humanity, and UNESCO is deeply committed to taking this forward.”
Mr. José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said, “IPBES-3 confirmed once again the need for scientifically independent, credible and policy-relevant information to strengthen the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services. This information is key to sustainable development and thus to the elimination of poverty, hunger and malnutrition and it will be essential for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals to be adopted in September.”
Ms. Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said, “Decision-making based on sound science and taking into account traditional knowledge is critical for maintaining and enhancing the goods and services which our ecosystems provide. They underpin both long-term human well-being and sustainable development. UNDP’s support for the platform is aligned with its mission to help countries eradicate poverty and reduce inequality. We are especially focused on the needs of those who depend directly on biodiversity and the health of ecosystems for their livelihoods.”