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Guest Article: IPBES8 Plenary Aims to Spark Transformative Change Using Biodiversity | SDG Knowledge Hub

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By Anne Larigauderie, Executive Secretary, IPBES

The IPBES Global Assessment released in 2019 concluded that the Aichi Biodiversity Targets would not be achieved based on current trajectories. In the lead-up to the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD COP 15), the Global Assessment and other IPBES reports are informing the drafting of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework for biodiversity, while providing a vital knowledge base for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

The eighth session of the IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) Plenary is now underway. Taking place virtually from 14-24 June 2021, it is expected to initiate two new assessments that will add to this invaluable body of knowledge. 

Some History

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) was established in Panama in 2012 by nearly 100 governments. The aim of IPBES is to critically review available knowledge and to provide this knowledge to policymakers, in response to their requests, to inform decision-making and action for people and nature.

The focus of IPBES is on biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people. In addition to the major expert assessments that IPBES undertakes, it also builds capacity, supports policy, and catalyzes the generation of new knowledge on gaps identified in its reports.

The IPBES Fellowship programme, for instance, is one of the Platforms’ most successful capacity-building initiatives. It funds early-career scientists from developing countries to participate as authors of the IPBES assessments, under the guidance of senior author mentors. Since the start of the programme, 92 Fellows have been appointed, from more than 1,300 applications – a highly popular and selective programme!

IPBES adopted its first work programme, for the period 2014-2018, at the second session of its Plenary, in December 2013, and its latest work programme which runs up to 2030 at the seventh session of its Plenary, in May 2019. There are now 137 governments that are IPBES Members, and the Platform also engages with a wide range of non-governmental stakeholders, including conservation organizations, Indigenous peoples and local communities, business and industry representatives, scientific organizations, early career researchers, and many others. IPBES released its first two Assessment Reports in 2016: the ‘Assessment Report on Pollinators, Pollination and Food Production,’ and the ‘Assessment Report on Scenarios and Models of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.’  The case of the pollination assessment shows the impact of IPBES Assessments. Its findings informed national legislation on pollinators, supported the adoption of a Plan of Action for the International Initiative for the Conservation and Sustainable use of Pollinators by the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and inspired the unanimous decision by the UN General Assembly to declare 20 May every year as World Bee Day.

In 2018, at its sixth Plenary, IPBES released four editions of the ‘Regional Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services’ (one each for Africa, Asia and the Pacific, the Americas, and Europe and Central Asia), as well as its ‘Assessment Report on Land Degradation and Restoration.’ All five assessments have seen significant policy uptake and impact. 

In 2019, at its seventh session, IPBES released the ‘Global Assessment of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.’ This report attracted unprecedented media attention (33,000 press articles in 160 countries and 50 languages) and brought a new level of awareness to biodiversity worldwide. The IPBES Impact Tracking Global Data Base (TRACK), has tracked 400 such impacts, finding that the Global Assessment, informed legislation around the world and the ‘Global Risk Report of the World Economic Forum.’ It was presented to G7 in 2019, and was the subject of testimony to various national legislatures and regional parliaments.

The Science-Policy Context

IPBES responds to the needs of governments, biodiversity-related conventions, and other conventions, including the CBD, as well as to the needs its of non-governmental stakeholders.

The IPBES Global Assessment assessed progress against the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and concluded that the Aichi Biodiversity Targets would not be achieved based on current trajectories. This work formed a major contribution to the fifth Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-5) of the CBD.

Today, the Global Assessment and other IPBES Assessments are informing the drafting of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. The Reports also provide a vital knowledge base for the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

IPBES8 Expected to Initiate 2030 Work Programme

About 800 participants, including representatives of the 137 governments members of IPBES and of numerous organizations, are meeting virtually from 14-24 June 2021.

IPBES8 is considering for approval two scoping reports, including chapter outlines, timelines, and a budget, on transformative change and interlinkages among biodiversity, climate, water, food, energy, and health. If approved, these two three-year assessments would start in 2021, and they would be presented for approval to IPBES-11 in 2024.

IPBES8 is invited to consider interim work plans for the five task forces that perform work related to capacity building, strengthening knowledge foundations (including Indigenous and local knowledge) and supporting policy (including on scenarios and models).

IPBES8 is invited to welcome the report on the workshop on biodiversity and climate that was co-sponsored by IPBES and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), as well as a note from the secretariat on work on biodiversity and climate change and collaboration with IPCC.

IPBES8 is providing participants with updates on progress regarding the production of three assessment reports: on values (for consideration at IPBES-9 in 2022); on the sustainable use of wild species assessments (also for consideration at IPBES-9); and on invasive alien species and their control, to be considered at IPBES-10 in 2023.

Other issues on the agenda of IPBES8 include information on further consideration of the outcome of the external review of IPBES, as well as progress reports on all other areas of work of IPBES.

The author of this guest article, Anne Larigauderie, is the Executive Secretary of IPBES. For inquiries, contact media@ipbes.net. Follow IPBES on social media: twitter.com/@ipbeslinkedin.com/company/ipbesyoutube.com/ipbeschannelfacebook.com/ipbesinstagram.com/ipbes_.





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