Global Scientific Organization Launches New Assessment of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services
3-year Study Will Measure Progress as 2020 Deadline Nears for Reaching Biodiversity Goals; Will Be Guided by Newly Adopted Approach for Evaluating Biodiversity-Related Policy Options; IPBES Elects Sir Robert Watson as Chair of New Bureau
Kuala Lumpur - The launch of an ambitious new three-year scientific assessment of biodiversity and ecosystem services was announced today at the close of a week-long meeting of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
The new global assessment, for completion by 2019, will measure progress towards meeting commitments under the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity of the United Nation's Convention on Biological Diversity (the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, 2011-2020) and the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals, agreed to by 193 UN members nations in September 2015.
IPBES also announced the completion of an assessment of scenarios and models that provide a new approach for helping policy makers evaluate the impacts of their decisions related to biodiversity and ecosystems services protection.
The report, titled The Methodological Assessment of Scenarios and Models of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, was adopted Sunday by representatives of IPBES's 124 member nations.
The report describes how scenarios and models can help decision makers evaluate the future impacts of today's policies or management decisions. Examples include the use of scenarios and models to sustainably manage fisheries or to carry out land use planning that balances needs for development and biodiversity protection.
"The scenarios and models assessment is the starting gun for mobilizing scientists, decision makers and other stakeholders to jointly embark on an ambitious, global effort to better understand and use scientific information about biodiversity and ecosystem services," said Karachepone N. Ninan, Ph.D., IPBES Co-Chair of the scenarios and models assessment and Chairperson of the Centre for Economics, Environment and Society in Bangalore, India.
The scenarios and models will help make better use of the IPBES regional and global assessments, including the new one about to be undertaken. The assessment was conducted by 83 experts and cited more than 3,000 scientific papers and, in two rounds of peer review, received 4,066 comments from 230 indepdent reviewers.
"IPBES's goal is to give policymakers and all of society a more complete understanding of how people and nature interact, and how policy and management decisions made today might affect these interactions in the future," said Simon Ferrier, Ph.D., the scenarios and models assessment's other Co-Chair and Senior Principal Research Scientist with CSIRO, Australia's National Science Agency.
The new biodiversity and ecosystem services assessment will be overseen by a new IPBES Bureau that was elected today by the organization's member nations meeting in Kuala Lumpur at the IPBES 4th annual plenary, (IPBES-4).
Sir Robert Watson (right), the organization's former Vice-Chair and the former Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was elected Chair of IPBES by acclamation. Dr. Watson serves as Director of Strategic Development at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of East Anglia.
He succeeds Zakri Abdul Hamid, who led IPBES from its inauguration in 2012. Prof. Zakri is a renowned expert in science diplomacy. He currently serves as Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of Malaysia, is one of 24 members of the UN Secretary General's Scientific Advisory Board, and co-Chairs the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT).
Said Prof. Zakri: "The release of two outstanding assessment reports at IPBES-4, including Friday's landmark report on pollinators, marks the emergence of the organization as a major global voice for biodiversity and ecosystem services. I am honoured to have chaired the meetings of IPBES over these first few years. I wish my friend and successor Bob Watson and all IPBES stakeholders continuing success in this work so vital to humanity and to all the species with which we share the Earth."
Dr. Watson, addressing the Plenary, said: "It is an honor to have been elected the second chair of the IPBES, and in particular to have been chosen to succeed Dr. Zakri, who has so ably led the IPBES through its early and formative stages. He is a gentleman, a world-renowned scientist, a statesman, and a man with incredible integrity who has worked at the forefront of the science-policy interface."