The fourth Plenary of IPBES will consider the outcome of the second year of implementation of the first work programme of IPBES.
A bit of history
The Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) was established in Panama in 2012 by over 100 governments. The aim of IPBES, like its older sister the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is to critically review available knowledge and to provide this knowledge to policy makers, in response to their request, in order to inform decision making. The focus of IPBES is on biodiversity and ecosystem services.
Discussions on the need for an IPBES started in 2005, following the successful release of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Key reasons for its establishment included the desire of governments and other stakeholders to: have a mechanism like IPCC, critically evaluating and releasing, on a regular basis, and in a form usable by policy makers, knowledge on biodiversity and ecosystem services; and to have governments involved in this mechanism, in order to strengthen the interface between science and policy.
IPBES adopted its first work programme, 2014-2018, in December 2013. It currently counts 124 Governments as Members, and involves in its work many non-governmental stakeholders (including conservation non-governmental organizations (NGOs), private sector representatives, scientific organizations, etc.).
The science and policy context of IPBES
IPBES responds to the needs of governments, of biodiversity related conventions, including the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and of non-governmental stakeholders. It is foreseen that its work, and in particular the outcome of the IPBES regional assessments, of the assessment on scenarios, and of the possible future global assessment (see below) will contribute to the report in 2020 on the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2010, and to assessing the achievements of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. The global assessment, to be released in 2019, if given a go-ahead by the fourth Plenary next week, will also be well placed to contribute to the elaboration of the follow up Strategic Plan 2011-2030, and to provide a knowledge base for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), on the 2030 horizon.
How does IPBES work?
IPBES publishes assessment reports. These reports take two to three years to produce. They are composed of two parts: a short summary for policy makers (SPM), including a set of key messages (10 to 20 pages); and a long document (several hundred pages), organized in chapters, containing the technical information to substantiate the messages in the SPM.
These reports are produced by scientists and other knowledge holders, for example, holders of local or indigenous knowledge. These experts are proposed by their government or an organization, and selected, based on their credentials, by the Multidisciplinary Expert Panel (MEP) of IPBES, which is composed of scientists elected by the Plenary of IPBES. The IPBES experts carry out the bulk of their work from their home institution, and contribute their time pro bono. Each report involves three experts meetings and two rounds of reviews, first by peers and then by governments and peers.
IPBES-4 about to begin in Kuala Lumpur
In a few days, close to 500 participants representing 141 countries, including the 124 members of IPBES and many organizations, will converge in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for the fourth Plenary of IPBES (IPBES-4), in response to an invitation from the Prime Minister of Malaysia. This Plenary will consider the outcome of the second year of implementation of the first work programme of IPBES. This is a historical moment in the short life of IPBES, as IPBES will be releasing its first two assessment reports.
First IPBES assessment report on pollination to be released at IPBES-4
The first of these two IPBES reports focuses on pollinators, pollination and food production. The co-chairs of this assessment, accompanied by some of the authors, will present to the Plenary the result of two years of work. The group, comprised of 80 experts from all regions of the world, has critically assessed published relevant literature on this topic as well as some relevant indigenous and local knowledge. The report formulates a number of key messages related to the values of pollinators and pollination, the status and trends in pollinators and pollination, and the drivers of change and policy and management options. Following a science-policy discussion around the summary for policy makers and the individual technical chapters, at the Plenary, between governments and the authors of the report, the final version of the report, resulting from these interactions, will be made public at a press conference and then published.
Other major items on the agenda of IPBES-4
Other major issues on the agenda of IPBES-4 include: (1) the release of the methodological assessment of scenarios and models of biodiversity and ecosystem services. This important document provides guidance to experts on the use of scenarios and models in the work of IPBES. It represents a first step towards future work of IPBES, in particular, on analyzing consequences for biodiversity and ecosystem services of various socio economic choices; (2) a decision on initiating a global assessment of biodiversity and ecosystem services, as mentioned above; (3) a decision to initiate several thematic assessments on invasive alien species, sustainable use of biodiversity and the conceptualization of the values of biodiversity and ecosystem services; and an initial set of methods to increase the use of indigenous and local knowledge in the work of IPBES.
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