IPBES Plenary. Credit: IPBES

IPBES Plenary. Credit: IPBES - Photo: 2016

New Tools to Assess Implementation of Global Development Goals

KUALA LUMPUR (IDN) – The United Nations and policymakers around the world now have new scientific tools to measure progress towards meeting commitments under the 2011-2020 Strategic Plan for Biodiversity of the United Nation’s Convention on Biological Diversity and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, endorsed by 193 UN member nations in September 2015. 

The 124-nation Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) adopted at the close of a week-long meeting on February 28, the report, titled The Methodological Assessment of Scenarios and Models of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. IPBES was established in April 2012.

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, 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 an ambitious new three-year scientific assessment of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

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. 

The assessment adopted on February 28 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, 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 by the organization’s member nations meeting in Kuala Lumpur at the IPBES 4th annual plenary (IPBES-4).  

Sir Robert Watson, 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 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). 

Prof. Zakri said: “The release of two outstanding assessment reports at IPBES-4, including (the) landmark report on pollinators, marks the emergence of the organization as a major global voice for biodiversity and ecosystem services.”

Achim Steiner, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said: “Early outputs of IPBES have demonstrated the unique value of this Platform. Proceeding with an updated global assessment through IPBES will help ensure that we have the best available knowledge to inform our collective efforts toward achieving the Global Goals for Sustainable Development.”

“Scenarios are important tools for sound management based on societal choices. UNESCO supports the use of scenarios, especially participatory scenarios, to inform decision-making on biodiversity and ecosystem services. Co-production of knowledge using diverse participatory approaches and involving a diversity of stakeholders is key to such choices and decisions,” commented UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.

FAO Director-General José Maria Graziano welcomed the collaboration of the different sectors and stakeholders in the areas of environment and agriculture on global assessments, such as the IPBES assessment of biodiversity and ecosystem services. “FAO’s assessments including the State of the World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture to be launched next year will be an important and timely contribution to the IPBES global assessment of biodiversity and ecosystem services,” he added.

Nik Sekhran, Director/Chief of Profession, Sustainable Development, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said: “Decision-making based on sound science and taking into account traditional knowledge is critical for maintaining and enhancing the goods and services that our ecosystems provide.”

The two IPBES assessments present new opportunities for integrated and informed approaches to development solutions in implementing Agenda 2030. “This is particularly significant to UNDP as we commemorate our 50th anniversary, and are looking toward the future of people and planet,” he added. [IDN-InDepthNews – 28 February 2016]

IDN is flagship of the International Press Syndicate.

Photo: IPBES Plenary. Credit: IPBES

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