13.04.2012 - Natural Sciences Sector

Creating a science-policy interface to improve ecosystem services management and conserve biodiversity

Representatives of governments, international organizations, the scientific community, NGOs and other key stakeholders will meet on 16-21 April 2012 in Panama City to discuss the modalities and work programme of a new platform that addresses the lack of science-policy interface for the sustainable management of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Biodiversity is crucial to human life and to the reduction of poverty. More than 1.3 billion people depend on biodiversity and on basic ecosystems goods and services for their livelihoods. In the face of their continuous and alarming erosion and unsustainable use, biodiversity and ecosystem services are gaining increasing attention in the international arena. However global and national efforts to conserve biodiversity are still not sufficient, no doubt due to the lack of effective multi-sectoral policy responses, political commitment at all levels and awareness-raising, among others.

Until today, there was no on-going global mechanism recognized by both the scientific and policy communities to gather, synthesize and analyse information for decision making. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is being established with the broad intention of ensuring that the best available science is made available to Governments and other stakeholders to facilitate informed decisions and policies.

During the first session of the IPBES plenary meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, on 3-7 October 2011, delegates made considerable progress in determining the platform's modalities and institutional arrangements. It was agreed that the Platform will focus on assessments to identify and prioritize relevant knowledge –including traditional knowledge– and policy responses, and on capacity-building.

It is anticipated that the participants in the second session will make decisions on the modalities and institutional arrangements and agree on an initial work programme.

Following the delegates’ invitation, UNESCO, UNEP, FAO and UNDP have submitted a joint proposal to institutionally co-host the IPBES Secretariat. These institutions have been collaborating successfully to facilitate the operationalization of the platform since the first intergovernmental and multistakeholder meeting on IPBES. Their mandates and fields of expertise with regards to biodiversity are complementary; the networks of the four organizations bring together scientific, capacity developing, policy support and administrative expertise across the globe. They each have extensive experience administering programmes of this scope, and a range of on-going joint collaborations demonstrate the potential and effectiveness of such collective support that can be offered by the UN organizations to the provision of the IPBES Secretariat.

The delegates will also review offers submitted by the Governments of France, Germany, India, Kenya and the Republic of Korea to provide the physical location of the secretariat of the platform.

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