After a week of intense negotiations, governments have agreed to establish a new mechanism, which will strengthen the dialogue between the scientific community and policymakers on biodiversity and ecosystem services. The so-called 'IPBES' - the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services - will be a leading body in making scientifically sound and relevant information available to support more informed decisions on how biodiversity and ecosystem services are conserved and used around the world.
At a meeting in Busan, Republic of Korea, governments agreed on principles for the operation of IPBES, including that it must be independent, scientifically credible, relevant and legitimate. Key functions agreed for IPBES include conducting regular assessments on existing knowledge about biodiversity and ecosystem services, encouraging new research to fill gaps in information, ensuring credible scientific advice is available for use in policy processes, and strengthening technical capacity.
IPBES will respond to the knowledge needs of governments, as well as those expressed through the multilateral environmental agreements, including the Convention on Biological Diversity. Non-government stakeholders will also be encouraged to contribute, by providing knowledge, and by suggesting needs and issues to be addressed. However, IPBES itself will be established as a strictly intergovernmental body, with other stakeholders involved only as observers in the decision making and governance structure.
“IUCN is delighted that the decision has finally been taken to establish IPBES, and looks forward to contributing to its knowledge base and operations,” says Julia Marton-Lefèvre, IUCN Director General. “Non-government organizations are instrumental in conserving and sustainably using biodiversity and ecosystem services. Although an opportunity to be established as a fully multistakeholder platform was not taken up, IPBES will be an extremely useful body to ensure that the best information is made available to all decision-makers in governments and elsewhere.”
The fact that the deliberations were very intense at times during the meeting suggests that governments see value in the new mechanism, and consider its effective establishment as very important. Decisions taken in Busan will be forwarded to the 65th session of the United Nations General Assembly to be held later this year in New York, at which point it is anticipated that a Resolution will be passed to officially establish IPBES. Building on support for IPBES for the last two years, and the processes that led to IPBES before that, IUCN now looks forward to contributing to the next operational phase to set up and implement the platform, through providing its worldwide expertise and knowledge services.