Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services
The Intergovernmental science-policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is an independent intergovernmental body established to strengthen the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, long-term human well-being and sustainable development. It was established in Panama City, on 21 April 2012 by 94 governments. IPBES is placed under the auspices of four United Nations entities: UNEP, UNESCO, FAO and UNDP and administered by UNEP.
All the member countries of the United Nations can join the platform and 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. One thousand scientists from all over the world currently contribute to the work of IPBES on a voluntary basis. They are nominated by their government or an organization, and selected by the MEP. Peer review forms a key component of the work of IPBES to ensure that a range of views is reflected in its work, and that the work is complete to the highest scientific standards.
The IPBES provides a mechanism recognized by both the scientific and policy communities to synthesize, review, assess and critically evaluate relevant information and knowledge generated worldwide by governments, academia, scientific organizations, non-governmental organizations as well as indigenous peoples and local 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.
The IPBES will also aim to address the needs of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) that are related to biodiversity and ecosystem services: the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention (WHC), the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGR) and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). IPBES will build on existing processes ensuring synergy and complementarities in each other’s work.
The IPBES secretariat is based in Bonn, Germany.
Terrestrial, marine, coastal, and inland water ecosystems biodiversity provides the basis for ecosystems and the subsequent services they provide underpin human well-being. However, biodiversity and ecosystem services are declining at an unprecedented rate. 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 the scientific information in order to make informed decisions. The scientific community also needs to understand the decision makers and their needs and driving forces 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.
Specific discussions on IPBES started following the final meeting of the multi-stakeholder international steering committee for the consultative process on an International Mechanism of Scientific Expertise on Biodiversity (IMoSEB) in November 2007.
The consultation towards IMoSEB decided to invite the Executive Director of United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) - in collaboration with governments and other partners - to convene an intergovernmental and multi-stakeholder meeting to consider the establishment of an intergovernmental mechanism for biodiversity and ecosystem services. There was also consensus among the stakeholders involved in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) follow-up initiative that the follow up to the IMoSEB process and the MA follow-up process should merge. It was the coming together of the MA follow up process with the follow up to the IMoSEB consultations that led to the process on IPBES.
Three intergovernmental and multi-stakeholder meetings (Malaysia 2008, Kenya 2009, Republic of Korea 2010) were held to discuss ways to strengthen the science-policy interface on biodiversity and ecosystem services. At the first two meetings, the gaps and needs for strengthening the science policy interface were identified, and at the meeting in June 2010, in Busan, Republic of Korea, governments decided that an Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) should be established in addition to agreement on the broad areas of its work programme, and on many of the principles of its operation as part of the Busan Outcome.
The Busan Outcome was welcomed by the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Nagoya in October 2010, and was subsequently considered at the 65th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). UNGA passed a resolution requesting UNEP to convene a plenary meeting to fully operationalize IPBES at the earliest opportunity. This resolution was then taken on board by UNEP in a decision at the 26th session of the UNEP Governing Council meeting, held in February 2011.
The plenary meeting was held in two sessions. The first session was held from 3 to 7 October 2011 in Nairobi. The second session of the plenary was hosted by UNEP, in collaboration with UNESCO, FAO and UNDP, in Panama City from 16 to 21 April 2012. There, many of the modalities and institutional arrangements for the Platform were finalized and 94 Governments adopted a resolution establishing the Platform as an independent intergovernmental body.
The first meeting of the Platform's Plenary (IPBES-1) was held in Bonn, Germany from 21 to 26 January 2013, hosted by the government of Germany. This includes decisions on the next steps for the development of an initial work programme, the status of contributions and initial budget for the platform for the year 2012, the IPBES administrative and institutional arrangements, and the procedure for receiving and prioritizing requests put to the Platform. In addition the report includes the updated rules of procedure for the plenary of the platform.
The second meeting of the Platform's Plenary (IPBES-2) was held in Antalya, Turkey, from 9–14 December 2013, hosted by the government of Turkey. The Platform's Plenary adopted the Conceptual Framework of IPBES and established a task force on capacity building, a task force on knowledge and data and a task force on indigenous and local knowledge. It also approved the Platform's first work programme (2014-2018) and agreed to develop a set of assessments on pollination and food production, land degradation and invasive species aimed at providing policymakers with the tools to tackle pressing environmental challenges.
The third meeting of the Platform's Plenary (IPBES-3) was held in Bonn, Germany from 12–17 January 2015. The Platform's Plenary agreed to initiate a set of regional assessments in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, and Europe and Central Asia. These assessments will be a vital contribution for a planned global assessment to be completed by 2019. Furthermore, IPBES Member States present at the meeting adopted a conflict of interest policy and a stakeholder engagement strategy that will support the implementation of the Platform’s work programme and approved the guidance on strategic partnerships and other collaborative arrangements.
The fourth meeting of the Platform's Plenary (IPBES-4) was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 22–28 February 2016. The Platform's Plenary approved the Summary for Policy Makers and adopted the first two assessment reports: Thematic Assessment on Pollinators, Pollination and Food Production and the Methodological Assessment on Scenarios and Models for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. The plenary also agreed to initiate a Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services for completion in 2019.
The Platform’s objective is to strengthen the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, long-term human well-being and sustainable development, with the following functions:
- Focusing on Government needs and based on priorities established by the Plenary, the Platform responds to requests from Governments, including those conveyed to it by multilateral environmental agreements related to biodiversity and ecosystem services as determined by their respective governing bodies. The Plenary welcomes inputs and suggestions from, and the participation of, United Nations bodies related to biodiversity and ecosystem services as determined by their respective governing bodies. The Plenary also encourages and takes into account, as appropriate, inputs and suggestions made by relevant stakeholders, such as other intergovernmental organizations, international and regional scientific organizations, environment trust funds, non-governmental organizations, indigenous peoples and local communities and the private sector. To facilitate this, and to ensure that the work programme of the Platform is focused and efficient, a process to receive and prioritize requests, inputs and suggestions will be established by the Plenary;
- The Platform identifies and prioritizes key scientific information needed for policymakers at appropriate scales and catalyses efforts to generate new knowledge by engaging in dialogue with key scientific organizations, policymakers and funding organizations, but should not directly undertake new research;
- The Platform performs regular and timely assessments of knowledge on biodiversity and ecosystem services and their interlinkages, which should include comprehensive global, regional and, as necessary, subregional assessments and thematic issues at appropriate scales and new topics identified by science and as decided upon by the Plenary. These assessments must be scientifically credible, independent and peer-reviewed, and must identify uncertainties. There should be a clear and transparent process for sharing and incorporating relevant data. The Platform maintains a catalogue of relevant assessments, identifies the need for regional and subregional assessments and helps to catalyse support for subregional and national assessments, as appropriate;
- The Platform supports policy formulation and implementation by identifying policy-relevant tools and methodologies, such as those arising from assessments, to enable decision makers to gain access to those tools and methodologies and, where necessary, to promote and catalyse their further development;
- The Platform prioritizes key capacity-building needs to improve the science-policy interface at appropriate levels and then provides and calls for financial and other support for the highest-priority needs related directly to its activities, as decided by the Plenary, and catalyses financing for such capacity-building activities by providing a forum with conventional and potential sources of funding.
UN member states present at the second session of a plenary meeting on IPBES requested the secretariat of UNEP to facilitate the Platform until the secretariat of the Platform is established, with a view to its being administered by one or more of the following: UNEP, UNESCO, FAO and UNDP
Work Programme 2014 - 2018
As mentioned in the meeting report of IPBES-2 (IPBES/2/17), the Platform's objectives and associated deliverables are:
Objective 1: Strengthen the capacity and knowledge foundations of the science-policy interface to implement key functions of the Platform: (a) Priority capacity-building needs to implement the Platform’s work programme matched with resources through catalysing financial and in-kind support (b) Capacities needed to implement the Platform work programme developed (c) Procedures, approaches for participatory processes for working with indigenous and local knowledge systems developed (d) Priority knowledge and data needs for policymaking addressed through catalysing efforts to generate new knowledge and networking
Objective 2: Strengthen the science-policy interface on biodiversity and ecosystem services at and across subregional, regional and global levels: (a) Guide on production and integration of assessments from and across all scales (b) Regional/subregional assessments on biodiversity, ecosystem services (c) Global assessment on biodiversity and ecosystem services
Objective 3: Strengthen the science-policy interface on biodiversity and ecosystem services with regard to thematic and methodological issues: (a) One fast-track thematic assessment of pollinators, pollination and food production (b) Three thematic assessments: land degradation and restoration; invasive alien species; and sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity and strengthening capacities/tools (c) Policy support tools and methodologies for scenario analysis and modelling of biodiversity and ecosystem services based on a fast-track assessment and a guide (d) Policy support tools and methodologies regarding the diverse conceptualization of values of biodiversity and nature’s benefits to people including ecosystem services based on an assessment and a guide
Objective 4: Communicate and evaluate Platform activities, deliverables and findings: (a) Catalogue of relevant assessments (b) Development of an information and data management plan (c) Catalogue of policy support tools and methodologies (d) Set of communication, outreach and engagement strategies, products and processes (e) Reviews of the effectiveness of guidance, procedures, methods and approaches to inform future development of the Platform
- Plenary, consisting of the Member States of the Platform, with other States and organizations as observers
- Subsidiary Bodies (overseeing administrative and scientific functions to facilitate the work of the Platform)
- A Bureau (composed of 10 members, two from each of the 5 UN regions). Zakri Abdul Hamid from Malaysia has been elected as the Chair of the IPBES Plenary and head of the IPBES Bureau. The current list of Bureau members is available from the IPBES website.
- A Multidisciplinary Expert Panel (composed initially of 25 members, five from each of the 5 UN regions, although with the intention that the composition will better reflect biogeographic regions in the future). The current list of MEP Members is available from the IPBES website.
- Secretariat is based in Bonn, Germany. Neville Ash was head of the interim IPBES Secretariat from 2012 to 2014. In 2014, Anne Larigauderie was appointed as Head of the IPBES Secretariat, in Bonn.
It was agreed at the Panama meeting that in carrying out its work the Platform will be guided by the following operating principles:
- Collaborate with existing initiatives on biodiversity and ecosystem services, including multilateral environment agreements, United Nations bodies and networks of scientists and knowledge holders, to fill gaps and build upon their work while avoiding duplication;
- Be scientifically independent and ensure credibility, relevance and legitimacy through peer review of its work and transparency in its decision-making processes;
- Use clear, transparent and scientifically credible processes for the exchange, sharing and use of data, information and technologies from all relevant sources, including non-peer-reviewed literature, as appropriate;
- Recognize and respect the contribution of indigenous and local knowledge to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystems;
- Provide policy-relevant information, but not policy-prescriptive advice, mindful of the respective mandates of the multilateral environmental agreements;
- Integrate capacity-building into all relevant aspects of its work according to priorities decided by the Plenary;
- Recognize the unique biodiversity and scientific knowledge thereof within and among regions and the need for the full and effective participation of developing countries and balanced regional representation and participation in its structure and work;
- Take an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approach that incorporates all relevant disciplines, including social and natural sciences;
- Recognize the need for gender equity in all relevant aspects of its work;
- Address terrestrial, marine and inland water biodiversity and ecosystem services and their interactions;
- Ensure the full use of national, subregional and regional assessments and knowledge, as appropriate, including by ensuring a bottom-up approach.
It was also agreed that the Platform’s efficiency and effectiveness will be independently reviewed and evaluated on a periodic basis as decided by the Plenary, with adjustments to be made as necessary.
It has been agreed that a core trust fund to be allocated by the Plenary will be established to receive voluntary contributions from governments, as well as from United Nations bodies, the Global Environment Facility, other intergovernmental organizations and other stakeholders such as the private sector and foundations, on the understanding that such funding will come without conditionalities, will not orient the work of the Platform and cannot be earmarked for specific activities. Its use will be determined by the Plenary in an open and transparent manner. Specific requirements for governing the trust fund will be specified in financial rules and procedures to be adopted by the Plenary. Exceptionally, subject to approval by the Plenary, additional voluntary contributions may be accepted outside the trust fund, such as direct support for specific activities of the Platform’s work programme. In kind contributions will come without conditionalities from Governments, the scientific community, other knowledge holders and stakeholders and will be key to the success of the implementation of the work programme.
Members of the Platform
Members of the platform include:
Related decisions and resolutions
- Outcome of the eleventh session of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC11), Bonn, Germany, April 2013
- Decision on the rules and procedures for the Plenary of the Platform,
- Decision on the procedure for receiving and prioritizing requests put to then Platform adopted by IPBES-1 in Bonn, Germany, 21–26 January 2013
- Decision 27/11 adopted by the United Nations Environment Programme Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum at its first universal session
- Decision XI/13 adopted by the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity at its eleventh meeting
- Resolution on Functions, operating principles and institutional arrangements of the Platform adopted in Panama City, Panama, 16–21 April 2012
- Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar): Report of the mid-term workshops of the Scientific & Technical Review Panel - Gland, Switzerland, 2010 (PDF) http://www.ramsar.org/pdf/strp/strp_workshop2010_report.pdf. Missing or empty
- Ramsar Resolution XI.6 adopted by the 11th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Wetlands (PDF) http://www.ramsar.org/pdf/cop11/res/cop11-res06-e.pdf. Missing or empty
- Resolution establishing IPBES adopted at the second session of a plenary meeting to determine modalities and institutional arrangements for IPBES in Panama City, Panama, 16–21 April 2012 "IPBES | Science and policy for people and nature".
- Resolution 10.8 adopted by the Conference of the Parties at its tenth meeting on Cooperation between the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and CMS - Bergen, Norway,2011 (PDF) http://www.cms.int/bodies/COP/cop10/resolutions_adopted/10_08_ipbes_e.pdf. Missing or empty
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- Resolution 14/2011 Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services adopted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations at its thirty-seventh session - Rome, Italy, 25 June – 2 July 2011 (PDF) http://www.fao.org/docrep/meeting/023/MB767E.pdf. Missing or empty
- Decisions adopted by the Plants Committee to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (of wild Fauna and Flora) at its ninth meeting - Geneva, Switzerland, 2011 "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 March 2011. Retrieved 21 March 2016.
- Decisions adopted by the United Nations Environment Programme Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum at its twenty-fifth session - Nairobi, Kenya, 2011 (PDF) http://www.unep.org/gc/gc26/docs/K1171014.E_Decisions_adopted_by_GC-26.pdf. Missing or empty
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- Decision X/11 adopted by the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity at its tenth meeting - Nagoya, Japan,2010 (PDF) http://www.cms.int/about/nbsap/cbd_cop10_decision.pdf. Missing or empty
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- Report of the third ad hoc intergovernmental and multi-stakeholder meeting on an intergovernmental science-policy platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services-Busan, Republic of Korea,2010 "IPBES | Science and policy for people and nature".
- Decisions adopted by the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (of wild Fauna and Flora) at its fifteenth meeting - Doha, Qatar, 2010 "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 April 2016. Retrieved 21 March 2016.
- Decision SS.XI/3 adopted by the United Nations Environment Programme Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum at its eleventh special session - Bali, Indonesia, 2010 (PDF) http://www.unep.org/GC/GCSS-XI/Documents/Declaration_and_decisions_adoptedbyGCSS-XI.pdf. Missing or empty
- Report of the second ad hoc intergovernmental and multi-stakeholder meeting on an intergovernmental science-policy platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services - Nairobi, Kenya, 2009 (PDF) http://www.unep.org/civil_society/GCSF11/pdfs/UNEP_IPBES_Meeting_Report.pdf. Missing or empty
- "Decision 25/10 adopted by the United Nations Environment Programme Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum at its twenty-fourth session - Nairobi, Kenya, 2009" (PDF).
- Report of the ad hoc intergovernmental and multi-stakeholder meeting on an intergovernmental science-policy platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services - Putrajaya, Malaysia, 2008 (PDF) http://cmsdata.iucn.org/downloads/putrajaya_meeting.pdf. Missing or empty
- Decision XI/15 adopted by the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity at its ninth meeting - Bonn, Germany, 2008 "COP Decision".
- According to Ester Turnhout et al., the IPBES must draw on a much broader range of knowledge and stakeholders. Currently, IPBES documentation, such as the provisional work programme and technical background documents, suggests that the platform aims to serve as a clearing house that guarantees the global availability of all biodiversity knowledge that has been standardized and scientifically validated. This might be attractive to "elite actors", from natural scientists to national governments, but it omits many other important stakeholders and knowledge-holders including indigenous people, businesses, farmers, community partnerships and fishers. IPBES has not taken adequate notice that there exists no single scientific definition of biodiversity, nor is there one that does justice to the many ways of living with and knowing nature that human cultures have developed and is promoting a predominantly science-based understanding of biodiversity, with ecosystem services taking centre stage. This focus reduces biodiversity to an object of exploitation and runs the risk of bringing it even further into a system of market exchange.
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