A UNU-IAS delegation led by Prof. Kazuhiko Takeuchi (Senior Vice-Rector, UNU) made important contributions to the second plenary meeting of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). The IPBES-2 plenary meeting was hosted by the Government of Turkey in Antalya, on 9–14 December 2013. Over the week-long meeting, Prof. Takeuchi presented past contributions and future visions to help guide the work programme of IPBES for 2014–2018. These discussions will help steer the roles of both IPBES and UNU in reversing global degradation of biodiversity and ecosystems that support human well-being.
Formed in April 2012 and now with 115 member nations, IPBES is an independent, intergovernmental body that provides scientific support for policy-making in the area of biodiversity, ecosystem services, and conservation. IPBES’ four main functions are to generate knowledge, provide regular assessments, build capacity, and develop policy support tools and methodologies for managing biodiversity and ecosystem services.
The main outcomes of the IPBES-2 plenary meeting included the adoption of the 2014–2018 work programme and conceptual framework of the platform. UNU contributed significantly to developing these, co-organizing four international expert workshops on IPBES over the last 2 years in collaboration with the governments of Japan and the Republic of Korea, IHDP, and UNESCO. The final IPBES-2 “Antalya Consensus” document included agreement to coordinate fast-track assessments by December 2015 on pollination and pollinators associated with food production, and on scenario analysis and modelling of biodiversity and ecosystem services.
The work programme approved at IPBES-2 also established a taskforce to meet capacity-building needs, two taskforces to synergize knowledge systems and improve data availability. Initial scoping was approved for four future assessments to be completed by 2018, focusing on (i) the conceptualization of values of biodiversity and nature’s benefits to people; (ii) land degradation and restoration; (iii) invasive alien species; and (iv) strengthening capacities and tools for sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity. IPBES-2 also saw the appointment of Anne Larigauderie of France as the first Executive Secretary of IPBES.
During the plenary discussions Prof. Takeuchi highlighted the importance of UNU as an academic stakeholder in developing the IPBES work programme. He reminded delegates of the importance of building IPBES through stakeholder engagement, stressed the functional philosophy of developing societies in harmony with nature, and discussed the overlooked potential of IPBES to contribute to ecosystem-based approaches for disaster-risk reduction. He noted the global relevance of UNU’s activities, including projects such as the Satoyama Initiative and ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction (eco-DRR) in the Sanriku Reconstruction National Park in Tohoku, Japan.
At the invitation of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)—coordinating agency of the proposed IPBES stakeholder engagement strategy—Prof. Takeuchi participated in an official side event, delivering and discussing methods for understanding and meeting stakeholder needs.These messages highlighted how the ensuing IPBES work programme could prioritize stakeholder needs in assessments, capacity building, knowledge generation, and policy support tools. They drew upon an Asia-Pacific Stakeholder Workshop co-organized by UNU-ISP in September 2013, which produced 12 messages on developing the IPBES framework in regional and sub-regional contexts.
The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), hosted in Antalya, Turkey
Another key outcome of IPBES-2 was its decision to develop a task force on integrating indigenous and local knowledge (ILK) with conventional knowledge systems. The procedures and approaches for accommodating different knowledge systems and world views in IPBES were largely established at a workshop hosted by UNU-ISP in June 2013. Prof. Takeuchi presented recommendations based on the this during another side-event, on Diversities of Knowledge: Building Indigenous and Local Knowledge into IPBES. Key points included the central role of social relations and reciprocity, the importance of practice as well as knowledge, recognition of gender-specific roles and knowledge; and the importance of spirituality as a driver in biodiversity and ecosystem management.
At the invitation of the Government of Turkey, Prof. Takeuchi also participated in a high-level panel event on the potential added value of IPBES for the global environmental agenda over the next decade. Alongside senior representatives of FAO, UNDP, UNESCO, and UNEP, Prof. Takeuchi highlighted how IPBES could synergize objectives of the three major global environmental conventions: the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). He also stressed that IPBES should be considered as more than an environmental agenda, as it can contribute to delivering the Sustainable Development Goals of the post-2015 development agenda.
The Antalya Consensus was referred to by Prof. Zakri Abdul Hamid (Chair, IPBES) as a testimony of the power of collective ambition to face biodiversity challenges. IPBES member governments demonstrated strong commitment to the new work programme by pledging more than half (US$25.4 million) of the total US$43.5 million required. However, some issues remained unresolved due to a lack of time, including some of the rules and procedures on admission of observers, a conflict of interest policy, and issues related to communications and stakeholder engagement. Delegates agreed that these issues will be taken up at future sessions of the plenary.
IPBES-3 will take place in mid-December 2014 or January 2015 in Bonn, Germany.
Advance versions of the IPBES 2014-2018 work programme and other IPBES documents are available on the IPBES website.