New Assessment of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

The launch of an ambitious new three-year scientific assessment of biodiversity and ecosystem services was announced on 28 February 2016 at the close of a week-long meeting of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 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 recently adopted Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.

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.

"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” said UNESCO’s Director General, Irina Bokova. 

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.

"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).

IPBES was founded four years ago with 124 member states to form a crucial intersection between international scientific understanding and public policy making. the Platform operates under the auspices of four United Nations agencies: the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), UNESCO, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

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