Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)

A global science-policy platform, recognized by both the scientific and political communities, for assessing the state of the planet's biodiversity, its ecosystems and the essential services they provide to society

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Close-up photo of a Western Honey Bee gathering nectar and spreading pollen on a young Autumn Sun Coneflower

Environmental sustainability depends on policies being put in place that safeguard the Earth’s biodiversity and ecosystem services, long-term human well-being and sustainable development. One of the major challenges to putting in place effective policies lies in ensuring that these policies are based on the best available scientific information. This information needs to be easily accessible, transparent and inclusive.

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) provides a mechanism recognized by both the scientific and policy communities to synthesize, review, assess and critically evaluate relevant information and knowledge on the contribution of biodiversity and ecosystem services to sustainability generated worldwide by governments, academia, scientific organizations, non-governmental organizations and indigenous communities. This involves a group of leading experts conducting assessments of such information and knowledge in a transparent way. IPBES is unique in that it also aims to strengthen capacity for the effective use of science in decision-making at all levels. IPBES also addresses the need of Multilateral Environmental Agreements that are related to biodiversity and ecosystem services, and builds on existing processes, such as the global environmental conventions and development policy dialogues.

Within the framework of IPBES, the Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Network (BES-Net) has been set up as a capacity building “network of networks” that promotes dialogue among science, policy and practice for more effective management of biodiversity and ecosystems, contributing to long-term human well-being and sustainable development.

UNESCO's role

As the specialized agency of the UN system in charge of science, UNESCO’s participation in IPBES enhances the scientific credibility of the process. The aim of UNESCO is to provide a strengthened enabling intergovernmental framework for the Platform. In light of its mandate in the area of culture, UNESCO also ensures that evaluations under IPBES take into account cultural services and the influence of human factors on biodiversity and ecosystem services. Thanks to the kind contribution of the Government of Japan, through the Ministry of the Environment of Japan, UNESCO is assisting the implementation of the IPBES Work Plan 2014-2018 - that further contribute to generating knowledge and assessing the status and trends of biodiversity and ecosystem services, identifying possible policy responses and building capacity at the biodiversity science-policy interface. In addition, UNESCO strongly encourages the recognition of and respect for indigenous and local knowledge in all aspects of IPBES, one of the key operating principles of IPBES.

UNESCO is an institutional co-sponsor of IPBES, together with UNEP, FAO and UNDP.

Assessment reports

The success of humanity’s efforts to reverse the current unsustainable use of our irreplaceable natural assets and heritage requires the best-available evidence, comprehensive relevant policy options and committed, well-informed decision makers. The IPBES assessment reports serve these ends, by providing the credible peer-reviewed information needed for informed decision-making.

Five landmark assessment reports describing the state of knowledge about biodiversity, ecosystems and nature’s contributions to people will be released in March 2018.

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