A new international science-policy platform on biodiversity and ecosystems, set up to assist governments and citizens to better understand the state, trends and challenges facing the natural world and humanity in the 21st century, has put in place on January 28 many of the administrative and staffing structures needed to implement its important work.
Over 500 delegates, including from most of the 105 Member States of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), attended the first plenary meeting of the platform (IPBES-1), held in Bonn, Germany this week.
M. Zakri, Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of Malaysia and Chairman of the Malaysian Professors’ Council was “truly honoured and most humbled to be elected as the first Chair of the Platform”. M. Zakri has extensive experience in biodiversity governance at the national and international levels.
The meeting also took this opportunity to elect an international group of renowned experts, the Multidisciplinary Expert Panel (MEP), which will ensure the scientific credibility and independence of the IPBES work.
IPBES-1 also decided that the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) will provide the Secretariat for the Platform, which will operate from Bonn in Germany and requested UNEP, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to establish an institutional link with the Platform through a collaborative partnership arrangement for the work of IPBES and its Secretariat.
M. Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director mentioned in his opening statement that “the Secretariat of UNEP is privileged to be at the service of IPBES” and that it “stands ready to contribute to the future work of the platform in close collaboration with its UN partners.”
The meeting also requested the development of a stakeholder engagement strategy for IPBES. It is expected that the scientific community, civil society, the business and industry sector, as well as representatives from indigenous peoples and local communities, will act both as contributors and end users of the Platform.
Anne Larigauderie, Diversitas’ Director Executive, leading the International Council for Science (ICSU) delegation to the meeting and Cyriaque Sendashonga, Global Director of the Policy and Programme Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), speaking on behalf of a group of more than 100 stakeholders present at the meeting, stressed that “the participation of all relevant stakeholders in IPBES is key for the relevance, impact, credibility and legitimacy of the platform.”
IPBES set-up to provide scientific support for policy-making to protect the planet’s biodiversity, its ecosystems and the services they provide to humanity.
IPBES was established in April 2012 in Panama City, Panama, and currently has 105 Member States.
The Platform is an independent intergovernmental body open to all member countries of the United Nations.
Its members are committed to building IPBES as the leading intergovernmental body for assessing the state of the planet’s biodiversity, its ecosystems and the essential services they provide to society.
Biodiversity from terrestrial, marine, coastal, and inland water ecosystems provides the basis for ecosystems and the services they provide that underpin human well-being. However, biodiversity and ecosystem services are declining at an unprecedented rate and the world failed to reach the CBD target of a significant reduction in the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010.
In order to address this challenge, adequate local, national and international policies need to be adopted and implemented. To achieve this, decision makers need scientifically credible and independent information that takes into account the complex relationships between biodiversity, ecosystem services, and people. They also need effective methods to interpret this scientific information in order to make informed decisions. The scientific community also needs to understand the needs of decision makers better in order to provide them with the relevant information. In essence, the dialogue between the scientific community, governments, and other stakeholders on biodiversity and ecosystem services needs to be strengthened.
IPBES was established to this end. It provides a mechanism recognised by both the scientific and policy communities to synthesise, review, assess and critically evaluate relevant information and knowledge generated worldwide by governments, academia, scientific organisations, non-governmental organisations and indigenous communities. This involves a credible group of experts in conducting assessments of such information and knowledge in a transparent way.
IPBES is unique in that it will aim to strengthen capacity for the effective use of science in decision-making at all levels. IPBES will also aim to address the needs of Multilateral Environmental Agreements that are related to biodiversity and ecosystem services, and build on existing processes ensuring synergy and complementarities in each other’s work.
An ambitious agenda has been set by the meeting, paving the way for the second meeting of the platform (IPBES-2), where IPBES’s forward-looking work programme is expected to be agreed. The IPBES Secretariat should also be fully staffed and operational by the end of IPBES-2, provisionally scheduled for the end of 2013.
- The Convention on Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS);
- The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES);
- The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA);
- The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands;
- The World Heritage Convention (WHC); and
- The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
(Source: IPBES press release, 27.01.2013)