The second Ad Hoc Intergovernmental and Multi-stakeholder Meeting on an Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES-II) met from 5-9 October 2009, at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. The meeting was attended by 225 delegates representing 95 countries, 15 intergovernmental organizations and 15 non-governmental organizations. Over the five-day meeting, participants exchanged views on the major findings of the gap analysis, options to strengthen the science-policy interface, functions of an IPBES and possible governance structures.
Participants adopted a Chair’s Summary of Outcomes and Discussions, which highlights areas of agreement and reflects differing views expressed during the meeting. Delegates agreed, inter alia, that: the UNEP Executive Director report at the 11th special session of the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GC-11/GMEF) in February 2010 on the meeting’s outcome; and the UNEP GC request to convene a third and final meeting to negotiate and decide whether to establish an IPBES.
Most delegates expressed support for a new mechanism that carries out assessments able to generate and disseminate policy-relevant advice and emphasized the importance of capacity building and equitable involvement from developing countries. Most agreed that a new mechanism should complement Multilateral Environmental Agreement (MEA) bodies, not replace them. Many countries also recognized that a new mechanism should harness local and traditional knowledge as a tool for conservation.
|A BRIEF HISTORY OF IPBES AND RELATED PROCESSES
The initiative to hold consultations regarding the establishment of an IPBES emerged from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) follow-up process, and the outcomes of the International Mechanism of Scientific Expertise on Biodiversity (IMoSEB) process. The decision of the UNEP Executive Director to hold an ad hoc intergovernmental and multi-stakeholder meeting was welcomed by the ninth Conference of the Parties (COP 9) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
MILLENNIUM ECOSYSTEM ASSESSMENT: From 2001 to 2005 the MA assessed the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being, involving the work of more than 1,360 experts worldwide. Published in 2005, the MA outcomes provide the first state-of-the-art scientific appraisal of the condition and trends in the world’s ecosystems and the services they provide, as well as the scientific basis for action to conserve and use them sustainably.
In 2006, CBD COP 8 adopted a decision on the MA’s implications for the work of the CBD, in which it encourages parties, inter alia, to use the MA framework for sub-global and national assessments. In 2007, UNEP conducted an evaluation of the MA and initiated the MA follow-up process.
IMOSEB PROCESS: The proposal for a Consultative Process Towards an IMoSEB was initiated at the Paris Conference on Biodiversity, Science and Governance, held in January 2005 (see IISD Reporting Services’ report: http://www.iisd.ca/crs/icb/). The proposal received political support from Jacques Chirac, President of the French Republic at the time, and the French government.
A consultative process was launched, with an International Steering Committee, an Executive Committee and an Executive Secretariat entrusted to the Institut Français de la Biodiversité, which was established to support and facilitate discussions.
The International Steering Committee met for the first time in Paris, France, in February 2006. Participants concurred that the current system for linking science and policy in the area of biodiversity needed further improvement. A number of case studies were developed in 2006, while the idea for an IMoSEB was discussed at a number of events, including CBD COP 8 (March 2006, Curitiba, Brazil), and a workshop on “International Science-Policy Interfaces for Biodiversity Governance” (October 2006, Leipzig, Germany).
At its second meeting, in December 2006, the Executive Committee discussed the results of the case studies, and identified a series of “needs and options.” A document outlining the ideas, entitled “International Steering Committee Members’ Responses: ‘Needs and Options’ Document,” was prepared by the Executive Secretariat and distributed in January 2007. The document was designed to assist participants during a series of regional consultations.
Six regional consultations were held between January 2007 and May 2008. The North American Regional Consultation was held from 30-31 January 2007, in Montreal, Canada. The African Regional Consultation was held from 1-3 March 2007, in Yaoundé, Cameroon. In addition to discussing options for a possible IMoSEB, participants considered experts needed in Africa and potential users of an IMoSEB, as well as its institutional and financial aspects.
The European Regional Consultation was held from 26-28 April 2007, in Geneva, Switzerland. Participants identified ten needs for an IMoSEB, a possible “network of networks” structure that could enable an IMoSEB to meet these needs, and goals and guiding principles for a strategy to communicate scientific information on biodiversity.
The Asian Regional Consultation was held from 24-25 September 2007, in Beijing, China. Participants agreed on an IMoSEB in the form of an independent intergovernmental panel serving the five biodiversity-related conventions, including a multi-stakeholder component affiliated with a UN body.
The South American Regional Consultation was held from 2-3 October 2007 in Bariloche, Argentina. Participants reached broad agreement on the needs for an IMoSEB, and put forward two options for such a mechanism. The Pacific Regional Consultation was held from 19-20 October 2007 in Alotau, Papua New Guinea. Participants supported the establishment of a civil society-driven IMoSEB that would synthesize and communicate a knowledge base on biodiversity, and provide scientific advice to support decision-making at all levels.
The final meeting of the IMoSEB Steering Committee was held from 15-17 November 2007, in Paris, France. The meeting reviewed the outcomes of the regional consultations and further discussed the needs and options for an IMoSEB, as well as how to improve the science-policy interface for biodiversity at all levels. In its final statement, while not recommending the formation of a new institution, the Steering Committee agreed to invite donors and governments to provide support for the further and urgent consideration of the establishment of a science-policy interface. It further invited the Executive Director of UNEP and others to convene a meeting to consider establishing such an interface.
IPBES CONCEPT: In response to the IMoSEB outcome, UNEP decided to convene the Ad Hoc Intergovernmental and Multi-Stakeholder Meeting on an IPBES. The government of France, in close consultation with experts in their personal capacity, drafted a concept note on the rationale, core mandate, expected outcomes, focus areas and operational modalities of a possible IPBES, which was made available for peer review and was subsequently revised.
The IMoSEB outcome and the IPBES concept note were also considered by CBD COP 9 (May 2008, Bonn, Germany). In Decision IX/15 (follow-up to the MA), the COP welcomed the decision of the UNEP Executive Director to convene the Ad Hoc Intergovernmental and Multi-Stakeholder Meeting on an IPBES, and requested the CBD Ad Hoc Working Group on Review of Implementation of the Convention to consider the outcomes at its third meeting, to be held in May 2010.
IPBES-I: The 1st Ad Hoc Intergovernmental and Multi-Stakeholder Meeting on an IPBES was held from 10-12 November 2008 in Putrajaya, Malaysia. Participants adopted a Chairs’ Summary of the meeting. In the document, the meeting recommends that the UNEP Executive Director report the meeting’s outcomes to UNEP GC-25, and requests the Executive Director to convene a second meeting. The Summary further contains two recommendations by the meeting: to continue exploring mechanisms to improve the science-policy interface on biodiversity and ecosystem services for human well-being and sustainable development; and that UNEP undertake a preliminary gap analysis to facilitate the discussions, to be made available to the UNEP GC.
UNEP GC-25/GMEF: This meeting, held from 16-20 February in Nairobi, Kenya, adopted decision 25/10 calling for UNEP to undertake a further process to explore ways and means to strengthen the science-policy interface. In response to the decision, UNEP invited governments and organizations to participate in an open peer review of the preliminary gap analysis on existing interfaces on biodiversity and ecosystem services. These comments have been incorporated in the final gap analysis Executive Summary.
OPENING OF THE MEETING
The second Ad Hoc Intergovernmental and Multi-stakeholder Meeting on an Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES-II) opened on Monday, 5 October. Ibrahim Thiaw, Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Division of Environmental Policy Implementation, welcomed participants on behalf of UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.
Angela Cropper, UNEP Deputy Executive Director, warned that the international community would likely fail to reach the global target of reducing biodiversity loss by 2010. Jochen Flasbarth, President of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), added that the establishment of a new mechanism is crucial for biodiversity policy in the coming decade. Highlighting his country’s rich biodiversity and ecosystems, John Michuki, Minister of Environment, Kenya, welcomed the establishment of an international body, but said that any mechanism should avoid duplication of efforts with other UN mechanisms and include the private sector. Ahmed Djoghlaf, CBD Executive Secretary, unveiled the logo for the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity.
On Monday, in plenary, delegates elected Robert Watson (UK) as Chair of the meeting. Following nominations by regional groups, four Vice-Chairs: Enma Diaz (Guatemala), Alfred Oteng Yeboah (Ghana); Jelena Ducic (Serbia) and Abdul Hamid Zakri (Malaysia) were also elected by acclamation.
In response to a proposal by UNEP that the rules of procedure of the UNEP Governing Council (GC) be adopted, Brazil for the Latin America and Caribbean Group (GRULAC), supported by the US, Turkey and others, called for a consensus approach rather than voting, in view of the multi-stakeholder nature of the meeting. Chair Watson confirmed that the organization of work would be by consensus, and that no formal contact groups would be established. The agenda was adopted subject to further discussion of GRULAC’s proposal.
MAJOR FINDINGS OF THE GAP ANALYSIS ON THE EXISTING SCIENCE-POLICY INTERFACE ON BIODIVERSITY AND ECOSYSTEM SERVICES
On Monday, in plenary, Jerry Harrison, UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC), presented on the key findings of the gap analysis. In the ensuing discussion, Sweden, on behalf of the European Union (EU), proposed the establishment of a mechanism to improve and strengthen the existing science-policy interface.
Mexico, with Turkey, stressed the need for a mechanism that would coordinate with other mechanisms and platforms. Grenada, on behalf of chairs of scientific bodies of the biodiversity-related conventions, noted that such a mechanism is critical for disseminating information at all levels, and, with Switzerland and Uganda, stressed that such a mechanism is not to replace the scientific subsidiary bodies. China requested that the existing gaps be more comprehensively explored. Malaysia stressed the importance of credible, legitimate and relevant scientific information. The CBD, supporting the establishment of an IPBES, emphasized the need for stakeholders’ impetus. South Africa called for the development of a radical approach in resource mobilization. Ghana noted the need to focus on a coordinated approach and fundamental capacities as a basis for further discussion. New Zealand underscored that the IPBES’s role is also to develop scientifically-robust indicators. Japan noted that existing mechanisms could not address the findings identified in the gap analysis. The US noted that he could not agree to a new mechanism until the IPBES’ mandate, institutional arrangements and relationship to other existing mechanisms are clarified. Yemen noted that poverty, lack of resources, technology transfer and capacity are all issues that need to be addressed to enable developing countries’ participation. Ethiopia noted that policy and politics often look for short-term solutions to biodiversity-related threats. Brazil highlighted the need for a platform that, inter alia, promotes a multidisciplinary approach, inclusive of attention to traditional knowledge.
Many countries, including Australia, Turkmenistan and Uruguay noted the need to avoid duplication of existing scientific subsidiary bodies of Multilateral Environment Agreement (MEA) bodies. Canada agreed that some qualities of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) could be replicated for IPBES. The Russian Federation said that the gap analysis offers a good basis for discussion as well as a clear view of existing problems. Vietnam added that developing countries, in particular, need technical and financial support for strengthening the science-policy interface.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) noted that a new mechanism needs to support coordination and capacity building. The representative of the Animals and Plant Committees for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) highlighted that the scientific advisory bodies of biodiversity-related conventions will be among the most important clients of an IPBES. The Mauritius Council for Development, Environmental Studies & Conservation (MAUDESCO) stressed the inclusion of civil society and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Summarizing the session, Chair Watson pointed out that there was general consensus on the importance of biodiversity and ecosystem services in development and poverty alleviation, and that there is a need to strengthen science-policy interface at all levels. He added that there was strong support for the gap analysis as a basis for discussion. He further noted that capacity building came through as an important issue to be discussed as well as equitable involvement of developing countries. Watson emphasized that a new mechanism must be policy-relevant and compliment MEA bodies, not replace them.
CONSIDERATION OF OPTIONS TO STRENGTHEN THE SCIENCE-POLICY INTERFACE FOR BIODIVERSITY AND ECOSYSTEM SERVICES
On Monday, in plenary, Chair Watson invited delegates to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of actions proposed in the Secretariat’s note, addressing each of the five needs: better collaboration and coordination; regular, timely assessments to generate and disseminate policy-relevant advice; support for policy implementation; building capacity; and scientific independence.
NEED FOR BETTER COLLABORATION AND COORDINATION TO GENERATE KNOWLEDGE FOR A COMMON AND SHARED KNOWLEDGE BASE: To facilitate knowledge generation and build a common and shared knowledge base, the Secretariat proposed three actions: 1) establishing an informal working group comprising representatives of science networks; 2) creating a formalized ad hoc working group endorsed by the governing organs of the respective institutions; and 3) developing a shared knowledge base within the new mechanism.
Cameroon said that the second action is a preferred option. New Zealand, Argentina, Senegal, Japan and others expressed preference for the third action, while Uganda called for a focus on national needs before moving to higher levels. The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar) outlined that the proposed mechanism should: be broadly focused on a shared knowledge base; address multiple ecosystems, sectors and scales; and focus on the needs of members.
Mexico noted that the platform should translate scientific information into layman’s language to the extent necessary. Japan noted that science should be communicated in a way that serves the needs of policy-makers.
NEED FOR REGULAR AND TIMELY ASSESSMENTS TO GENERATE AND DISSEMINATE POLICY‑RELEVANT ADVICE: The Secretariat proposed two actions, establishing: 1) a formal ad hoc working group with a clear mandate to produce regular scientific assessments; and 2) the new mechanism with a clear mandate to undertake regular, comprehensive assessments and provide policy-relevant, regular and timely scientific information.
Norway, Ghana, Uganda, Japan, Brazil, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, the EU, Mexico, the Republic of Korea, Switzerland and others supported the establishment of a new mechanism and expressed support for the second action. Malaysia, supported by DIVERSITAS and the Republic of Korea, underscored the need for a common conceptual framework for undertaking assessments. Mali underscored international support to enhance local and sub-regional action. Ethiopia stressed the importance of the proposed mechanism to assess the socio-economic value of ecosystems. Israel noted the recent UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) COP 9 scientific recommendations, which include establishing a mechanism for addressing the science-policy interface.
Bahrain highlighted that assessments should focus on socio-economic implications. Brazil noted that assessments should recognize traditional knowledge as a tool for conservation. The US noted the necessity of a peer-review mechanism for assessments. Cameroon, with South Africa, said IPBES assessments should be policy-relevant. Burkina Faso said assessments needed to be integrated into food security policy. Argentina re-emphasized that assessments need to be multidisciplinary, independent and avoid duplication. Colombia cited the CBD’s Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) as a body that already provides scientific advice and assessments. Turkey called for a bottom-up approach, while Senegal noted that awareness-raising would aid in increasing public knowledge. The Chinese Academy of Sciences highlighted the need to link ecological processes and services with policy. UN Division of Ocean Affairs and Law of Sea (DOALOS) highlighted the regular process for global reporting and assessment of the state of the marine environment. Tour du Valat Research Centre for the Conservation of Mediterranean Wetlands, called for harmonizing terminology.
NEED TO SUPPORT POLICY IMPLEMENTATION: The Secretariat proposed two actions: 1) that existing scientific advisory bodies and processes be strengthened by providing adequate financial and human resources to facilitate the translation of assessment findings for policy-making; and 2) a new mechanism be established to provide support in the form of decision-support toolkits for policy-makers. Israel, Malaysia, Turkey, Uganda, Mexico, Cuba, Bahrain, the Republic of Korea, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Egypt, Côte d’Ivoire and others supported action two. Mexico highlighted that action one is best served by providing concrete examples that respond to needs of users. Iran noted that action one does not add value and action two is ambitious. Guatemala, Ghana and others called for a hybrid approach that incorporates both actions.
The EU, Brazil, the US, Indonesia and the Russian Federation highlighted that uptake of assessment findings should not be policy prescriptive. Argentina highlighted the task of translating the complexity of science into policies. Norway stressed a focus on information sharing, while Uruguay underlined the need to understand national dynamics. The Russian Federation and others noted the need to present credible and scientifically-sound information to decision makers and called for more clarity on the proposed toolkits. Tour du Valat called for both proposed actions to distinguish between the roles of scientific advisory bodies and those involved in policy implementation on the ground. IUCN noted that toolkits providing support for multi-stakeholder involvement or multi-criteria analysis are useful in this context.
NEED FOR BUILDING CAPACITY TO MAINSTREAM BIODIVERSITY AND ECOSYSTEM SERVICES FOR HUMAN WELL‑BEING: The Secretariat proposed three actions: 1) increasing capacity building with regard to cooperation, assessments and policy implementation of initiatives under various international organizations; 2) establishing a new mechanism that supports existing capacity-building initiatives; and 3) capacity building that is an integral component within the new mechanism.
Senegal, with Turkmenistan, supported action three, but, with the EU, stressed that the new mechanism should not be tasked with operational responsibilities. Ethiopia highlighted strengthening communities to negotiate for their fair share of benefits. Vietnam called for information sharing at all levels. Malaysia called on international organizations to help narrow the knowledge deficit. Uganda emphasized skills development for knowledge generation and dissemination of scientific information. The Republic of Korea and Israel highlighted the need to synthesize scientific data and enhance synergies. Iran and Ghana stressed that capacity building is essential in realizing the systemic changes needed for biodiversity protection. South Africa called for prioritization of capacity needs.
Egypt called for a broad definition of capacity building that incorporates human, technical and financial resources. Mali called for global solidarity to enhance skills of scientists and decision makers. Kenya noted that one of the functions could be to assist in repackaging scientific information into understandable language. GRULAC stressed that an IPBES should have two main components: capacity building and assessments. Japan stressed the need to discuss the functions of the new mechanism to clarify capacity building needs.
Birdlife International, supported by the International Council for Science (ICSU), called for a combination of actions two and three. Ramsar highlighted the need for communicating scientific information at all levels. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) noted that the proposed platform could improve capacity, but should be linked to existing MEA bodies.
NEED FOR SCIENTIFIC INDEPENDENCE: The Secretariat proposed three actions: 1) increasing financial and human resources of existing scientific advisory bodies or processes; 2) revising agendas and mandates of governing organs of existing scientific advisory bodies and processes; and 3) establishing a new mechanism with a specific mandate to provide regular and timely policy-relevant scientific information.
Although the majority of delegates supported action three and stressed the importance of scientific independence, Malaysia, Iran and Brazil expressed concern about the term “scientific independence,” questioning how this would be determined. The representative of the CITES Animals and Plant Committees suggested focusing on “relevant, legitimate and credible science,” with a process to ensure that it is peer-reviewed. Canada said that independence means having an open, transparent peer-review mechanism. The EU, supported by others, stressed the independence of the scientific process in the establishment of a new mechanism. The US, with Canada and Japan, added that a new mechanism should be intergovernmental and not formally linked to political processes. Switzerland, Israel and others added that the IPCC is a good template to be explored. ICSU added that objectivity and credibility are essential to a new mechanism. Ramsar said a strong, credible and shared knowledge base could strengthen policy advice.
FUNCTIONS OF AN IPBES
On Wednesday, in plenary, Chair Watson asked delegates to: discuss which existing institutions and platforms need strengthening; look at the costs of available options; and evaluate what would be the most efficient mechanism to strengthen the science-policy interface. He noted three categories for discussion: knowledge generation; knowledge assessments; and capacity building, and called for delegates to acknowledge the social and economic dimensions of the knowledge base.
KNOWLEDGE GENERATION: The EU, Switzerland and others said a new mechanism should help improve collaboration between existing bodies and provide assessments on biodiversity and ecosystem services trends, but should not generate new primary scientific data. Japan said the basic function of an IPBES should be to synthesize and organize existing knowledge, not to create new information or conduct new research activities. Brazil added that an IPBES should provide additional information as requested by the COPs of biodiversity-related conventions, particularly the CBD. Malaysia noted a knowledge deficit in many developing countries and stressed the need to strengthen research and monitoring, while Uganda called for supporting a long-term knowledge base at the national and sub-regional level. Iran re-emphasized the need for free and open access to data information and an information depositary. Ethiopia added that capacity building is essential for research and assessment. The US reiterated that it is best to include capacity building as part of ongoing research and scientific activities. Cameroon said any new mechanism should help increase access to capacity building, training needs and finances, especially for developing countries. Canada added that an IPBES could identify priorities and knowledge gaps. DIVERSITAS highlighted three components needed for a successful science-policy interface: research; observations; and assessments.
KNOWLEDGE ASSESSMENTS AND CAPACITY BUILDING: IUCN, supported by Egypt, Mexico, the EU, Senegal, Malaysia and others, highlighted the role of an IPBES in creating a common knowledge platform. Uganda emphasized the importance of sub-regional assessments in Africa, and with Senegal and others, called for predictable and regular assessments. GRULAC noted that a new mechanism should have capacity building and assessments as pillars. Brazil also stressed the role of traditional knowledge as one of the tools to empower countries to sustainably conserve biodiversity. Israel supported an IPBES assessment with a very wide range of clients, such as other MEA bodies, and not just the CBD. South Africa noted that a new mechanism should provide tools and methodologies to turn assessment findings into action. Peru emphasized that a new mechanism should also provide social and economic information. The US emphasized the need to disseminate best practices for the sharing and generation of assessments and biodiversity conservation. Sierra Leone highlighted the use of strategic environmental assessments to mainstream biodiversity and ecosystem services into policy. Egypt called for an IPBES to assist in capacity building of community-based natural resource management. Japan stressed that information should be user-friendly and not policy prescriptive.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) noted the relevance of its assessments to an IPBES. United Nations University (UNU) highlighted the role of Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) Sub-global Assessments in assisting an IPBES. Ramsar stressed that biodiversity-related conventions’ scientific bodies could be useful in this area, noting that the credibility and force of the advice provided would be strengthened by assessments.
In summary, Chair Watson noted the discussion focused on identifying needs, the role of an IPBES in catalyzing the generation of tools, the need to support global assessments being developed, and identifying other possible tools for aiding global assessments.
CHAIR’S IPCC PRESENTATION: Responding to a request from Brazil, Chair Watson presented an overview of the IPCC. He suggested that an IPBES would be different from the IPCC model, but that delegates could draw on the success of this intergovernmental process. Brazil said that the IPCC is a good basis to think about the possibility of establishing an IPBES. Mexico observed that an IPBES is more complex, especially, as noted by the Chair, there are numerous biodiversity-related conventions involved. Responding to a question about a funding mechanism for an IPBES, Chair Watson said that it is important to first define the functions, principles and procedures, and “get the process right.”
UNEP EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR PRESENTATION: Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director, addressed the plenary. Although noting the continuing rate of biodiversity loss and failure to meet the internationally agreed target to reduce significantly the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010, he said the knowledge for biodiversity is far richer today than for climate change 20 years ago. He added that developing an IPBES could help satisfy the science-policy interface. Steiner highlighted that UNEP could facilitate the process of establishing an IPBES and will consider the meeting’s outcomes at the next GC/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GMEF).
CAPACITY BUILDING: Chair Watson invited delegates to comment on a proposal tabled by GRULAC. Introducing the proposal on behalf of GRULAC, Brazil noted it sets out three capacity-building objectives for an IPBES, and two broad groups of measures to achieve these: 1) measures relating to enhancing access to biodiversity and ecosystem service information, and 2) measures relating to enhancing training programmes and opportunities for scientists in developing countries. The Chair noted that the proposal received broad support from many delegates, with most stressing that an IPBES should serve as a catalyst and not duplicate existing capacity-building activities. The EU stressed that a key role of an IPBES should be to facilitate participation of scientists from all regions on an equal footing. Senegal highlighted support for interdisciplinary studies, and with Malawi, Uganda, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire and South Africa, underscored the need for support in translating studies into policy-relevant information. Switzerland highlighted the need to proceed gradually, building on the most immediate priorities.
Summarizing the session, Chair Watson referenced the GRULAC proposal and emphasized the catalytic and implementation nature of an IPBES. He noted that capacity is critical and the gap analysis has not adequately spanned the landscape on capacity building and some countries have asked for a deeper analysis. He welcomed the productive discussion on potential functions of an IPBES.
GOVERNANCE STRUCTURES FOR AN IPBES
On Thursday, in plenary, Chair Watson opened the discussion on potential governance structures and alternatives, presenting diagrams prepared by the Secretariat to facilitate discussions on two possible options for governance structures. The first option concentrates on the top tier of the governance structure: the plenary, secretariat, scientific advisory body and working groups, as well as the link to biodiversity and ecosystem services-related MEAs. The second option includes a second governance layer, comprising five regional working groups.
VIEWS ON PROPOSED GOVERNANCE STRUCTURES: Indonesia, for the Asian Group and with Turkmenistan, for the Central and Eastern European Group, expressed a preference for the second option but noted that more detail was required. Senegal, for the African Group, also preferred the second option, which he felt best fulfilled the criteria of legitimacy, credibility and relevance. Highlighting a number of issues needing clarification, including the relationship of the scientific advisory body to the working groups and the enhancement of the functions of an IPBES, he called for consideration of alternative potential governance structures as well. GRULAC noted that the model of the IPCC could provide a framework for selecting the bureau and the chair and, after a request from the Chair, said he did not favor the second option. The EU and Switzerland expressed a preference for the first option. The US welcomed the discussion, noting it would help in reviewing its position on the proposed mechanism. Norway stressed the need to define whether the discussion should be limited to the top governance structure or extend to the regional level as well. The Russian Federation added that clarity is needed on the advantages and disadvantages of the IPCC rules of procedure, and on mechanisms for enhancing coordination with MEA bodies.
Secretariat of an IPBES and relationship with other MEA bodies: GRULAC, supported by the African Group, introduced a proposal for a study of potential locations for a possible secretariat and the associated costs. The EU noted that the location of the secretariat should allow independence. Mexico suggested that UNEP take the lead in hosting the secretariat. Norway suggested that the secretariat be established as a consortium of most relevant agencies along the lines of the Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD).
Canada highlighted the importance of independence and multidisciplinarity of an IPBES and noted that if established, a secretariat should not be vested under an existing MEA body. Mexico called for the involvement of scientific subsidiary bodies chairs from biodiversity-related conventions. The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) highlighted its experience as a co-sponsor of the MA and similar panels. UNEP clarified that the issue of co-support and co-hosting is different from co-sponsoring, noting that co-sponsors merely lend support and do not necessarily interfere with independence and intergovernmental arrangements. On a question from Argentina regarding what level of approval for co-sponsorship from other organizations is needed, the Chair noted that if the mechanism were a stand-alone entity then many co-sponsors would be possible. He added that this might still be possible if the mechanism were embedded in a convention.
Governing body structure: The African Group noted that the governing body structure will be determined by whether it is made up of scientists or governments. Canada, supported by Norway, Switzerland, Brazil and others, called for a single credible governing body and suggested naming it the “Scientific Bureau.” Noting the cross-sectoral nature of capacity building, Japan suggested that an oversight body, rather than a working group, should supervise such activities. GRULAC noted its members could not afford to fund IPBES activities. Indonesia called for governments to nominate IPBES focal points to ensure sufficient coordination on the ground.
Representation: GRULAC, with the Asian Group and the Central and Eastern European Group, stated a preference for regional representation and a bottom-up approach for an IPBES. He called for a plenary that is broadly open to all stakeholders, particularly the scientific bodies of the biodiversity-related conventions. Norway highlighted the importance of including relevant UN bodies to gain synergies and help mainstream results. Israel pointed out that classification of regions for specific assessments does not always overlap with the official UN groupings. The US expressed concern on the inclusion of NGOs.
Advisory scientific body: Brazil said it did not favor a scientific advisory body, and that assessments should be performed at the national, sub-regional and regional levels. Malaysia called for a small, separate scientific panel comprising 20-30 experts to ensure access to the best science for generating policy advice. He suggested that such a panel might focus on assessments under the guidance of the plenary to ensure a demand-driven focus. Australia and the Russian Federation requested additional information on the procedure for selection of experts for the scientific bureau.
Role of the plenary: Switzerland noted the plenary should review and endorse reports and adopt summaries for policy-makers and establish the scope of collaboration with different MEA bodies. Chair Watson noted that an IPBES that responds to the executive body of an MEA body, rather than its plenary, might communicate its decisions more effectively and avoid time lags.
Working groups: The EU called for ad hoc working groups under the proposed mechanism. He highlighted possible components, including: facilitating capacity building; providing best practices at the national level; and creating a secretariat. GRULAC called for two working groups, on assessments and capacity building, with provisions for additional ad hoc working groups, if necessary. The Asian and African Groups supported a permanent working group on capacity building. Canada called for form to follow function and proposed addressing working groups as one of the first orders of business for a new IPBES. The Central and Eastern European Group elaborated that the working groups should be based on regional representation and focus on knowledge generation and capacity building.
CHAIR’S CONCLUSION: Chair Watson noted that most of the proposals made on the possible IPBES governance structure reflect the composition of the IPCC. He clarified, however, that the IPCC does not have a scientific advisory body because most of its members have the required expertise to oversee each of the three working groups. With respect to its interface with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Chair Watson explained that while there are mechanisms for dialogue, the IPCC does not report to the COP. Chair Watson said there were divergent views on how MEA bodies would interface with an IPBES, the need for an advisory scientific body within the platform, and whether there should be permanent or ad hoc working groups. He, however, noted general agreement on the need for: a plenary comprised of government representatives and observers from other stakeholders; some
form of executive body; and appropriate geographic representation.
“CHAIR’S SUMMARY” OF
THE OUTCOMES OF DISCUSSIONS
On Friday morning, Chair Watson introduced the Chair’s Summary of Outcomes of Discussions (UNEP/IPBES/2/CRP.3). Norway, Japan, Australia, Brazil and the US noted that it is a good basis for discussion. Norway emphasized that the importance of involving NGOs was missing and should, thus, be reflected throughout the document. Japan asked for clarification as to how to prepare for the next meeting on an IPBES. Australia noted that the Summary should reflect diversity and richness, including differences. The EU said that the Summary is more focused on science rather than policy and asked that links be made between the existing interface and a new mechanism. The African Group noted that it should focus more on substance than form and asked to clarify the meaning of “scientific independence.” The Russian Federation proposed referencing the importance of active collaboration with relevant UN organizations such FAO, UN Development Programme (UNDP), UNESCO and World Health Organization (WHO), with Switzerland highlighting UNEP as well.
On the introductory paragraph, GRULAC asked that reference in the Summary to the need to address “poverty alleviation” be substituted with “poverty eradication. Australia asked to add a reference to “quality and independence of science” and Israel asked to reference “sustainable development.” The EU highlighted that long-term human well-being should be referenced.
Chair Watson, in taking account the suggested changes, noted that this discussion was leading towards the negotiation of the document rather than a consultation. He asked delegates to work in a spirit of collaboration and flexibility. The African Group, supported by the Comoros, stressed there is a need to come to an understanding as to whether this is a text that delegates will negotiate or whether this is a Chair’s Summary not open for negotiation. Chair Watson suggested taking comments of a substantive nature only, as delegates agreed that this document should not be a “negotiated” Chair’s Summary.
FINDINGS AND NEEDS: GRULAC stressed the need to define in the Summary what is meant by “scientific independence,” with particular reference to “legitimacy, relevance and credibility.” He noted that the Summary should also reflect that an IPBES’ function is to catalyze knowledge generation. The Chair noted that the first section of the Summary related to the general needs for strengthening the science-policy interface, while the second section referred to the functions of an IPBES and how it should be constituted. GRULAC, re-emphasizing the role of an IPBES in catalyzing knowledge, lamented that this was not reflected in the Summary, in particular the role of an IPBES for capacity building. He noted that the text should reflect that policy-relevant advice is not policy prescriptive. Indonesia, with Iran, objected to the inclusion of the words “human security” as one of the areas needing a strengthened science-policy interface. The African Group requested that the text be discussed generally in thematic sections, as was done earlier in the week. The EU thanked Chair Watson for including the definition of needs as it was used in previous discussions. Australia requested that this section be moved to the chapeau.
Need for scientific independence: Brazil objected to the reference of an IPBES being detached from political processes, in order to be scientifically independent, as the actions of an IPBES are to be driven by the demand of MEA bodies. The Chair noted that the IPCC is detached but responsive to the demands of the UNFCCC.
Need for knowledge generation: Brazil, opposed by the EU and others, suggested renaming this section as “the need for catalyzing knowledge.” Ethiopia called for reference to local and traditional knowledges; New Zealand proposed new text on the monitoring of knowledge; and Norway, supporting Brazil, called for explicit reference to a bottom-up approach to knowledge generation. Brazil sought clarification on the general orientation of the first section of the document, noting that it should refer only to specific knowledge needs that should be addressed by an IPBES. Australia, the EU, Norway, the Russian Federation and the African Group differed, noting that, in line with the general discussions on the gap analysis during the first three days, the document should first identify all user needs within the broader science-policy interface. This, they noted, would help to define what the functions of an IPBES should be, and enhance collaboration with other bodies. After some discussion, delegates agreed that there should be a new chapeau explaining the rationale behind the document’s structure.
Need for knowledge assessments: The EU requested reference to thematic assessments, stressing that all assessments should be policy-relevant and not policy-prescriptive. Brazil said that assessments should be submitted for intergovernmental review and approval, adding that it is important to identify how best to provide support for the biodiversity-related MEA bodies. Mexico underscored the importance of taking into account user needs. Norway wanted the inclusion of emerging issues.
Need for knowledge use: Côte d’Ivoire noted that an IPBES should facilitate knowledge generation for scientific information. New Zealand stressed the need to consider various mechanisms for scientific and technological transfer so assessment products can be delivered to various users.
Need for capacity building: Iran asked to include reference to free and open online access. New Zealand added the importance of securing the archiving of national, regional and global data. Ethiopia said local communities should be included in capacity building for science and policy-makers, while Bangladesh noted regional banks could play an important role.
FUNCTIONS OF THE PROPOSED PLATFORM: DOALOS noted it was not clear whether an IPBES should be in charge of coordinating other existing mechanisms like the UN “Assessment of Assessments.” Japan said that the scientific independence of an IPBES is paramount and suggested defining its scope. The EU noted it would be helpful to clarify that the role of an IPBES is to fill existing gaps. Australia re-emphasized that an IPBES should not duplicate other bodies’ functions but rather be a catalyst for action. The Russian Federation noted the importance of coordination with other UN organizations and expressed hope that at the next meeting the question of coordination would be addressed. New Zealand and others noted that the Summary should take into consideration the documents that describe the current assessment landscape.
Knowledge generation: In relation to knowledge generation, Brazil suggested replacing “generation” with “catalyzing” and, supported by Senegal, including a reference to partnerships with international organizations. On the need for a mechanism for dialogue with organizations like DIVERSITAS and ICSU, the US suggested referencing IUCN as well.
Knowledge assessments: Sweden, with Brazil objecting, proposed assessments of emerging issues. The EU, supported by Canada, suggested that an IPBES could conduct thematic studies.
Knowledge use: Japan, referencing the general need for identifying tools and methodologies needed by policy-makers to strengthen the science-policy interface, stated that these could be perceived as policy prescriptive. Chair Watson noted that the language came from the actual title of the paragraph, but said he would include language to ensure it is not seen as policy prescriptive.
Capacity building: Bangladesh requested that regional organizations be included. The EU questioned if the paragraph referenced the creation of a permanent working group on capacity building. The Chair clarified that the forum or body created would work with major donors to direct funding to areas needing it. Brazil requested that only the creation of a forum be referenced.
GOVERNANCE STRUCTURE: Brazil noted that he saw an executive body or bureau on equal terms and wished this to be reflected accurately in the text. He said that “many” supported a direct relationship between the governing bodies and MEAs, as opposed to “some.” He also noted that many delegates favored the creation of two working groups. The EU noted that he saw the executive body as being composed of government representatives having a managerial role with scientists being non-voting members. He stressed that while the divergence of views on this is accurately reflected, the text should include that no conclusion was reached.
Regarding the representation of non-governmental stakeholders, DIVERSITAS proposed mentioning that participants from relevant stakeholder groups would be invited to participate, without voting rights. Brazil opposed this, instead proposing language stating that non-governmental participants should be invited as observers, so as not to pre-empt a decision on voting procedures. Noting that the language proposed by Brazil prejudges the discussion on eventual rules and procedures, the EU suggested that the text should read: “and relevant stakeholder groups and intergovernmental organizations according to modalities to be agreed by a possible platform at its first meeting.” Chair Watson clarified that NGOs are allowed to have voice in IPCC discussions and suggested leaving this option open until the discussion on rules and procedures could be finalized. As there was no agreement, Chair Watson noted that the final document would reflect both views.
Canada clarified that there was no agreement that the UNEP Secretariat should assess the strengths and weaknesses of various offers and options to host an IPBES secretariat.
The African Group said the UNEP Secretariat should provide guidance on a number of options without making any judgments on the best option. Norway, supported by Canada and Senegal, said that there should be criteria specified for the transparent process of selecting a secretariat. Switzerland, with Norway, supporting the idea of mentioning a transparent process, emphasized the need for criteria to be decided at the next meeting. Australia recalled that reference should be made to a “small secretariat.” The African Group noted that there was significant support for a working group on capacity building, and that this should be reflected in the document, thus requiring an interim secretariat.
Clarifying its opposition to retaining the two diagrams annexed to the Chair’s Summary, Brazil stressed there was no agreement on constituting three working groups as shown in the figures. He said some delegations favored two working groups, a significant number supported regional working groups, while others called for alternative regional approaches. He also pointed out that the majority of delegates did not support a scientific advisory body, which is included in both diagrams. Chair Watson agreed with Brazil, Norway and Canada, that the diagrams be removed since they do not reflect all the proposals. The African Group stressed that the diagrams should be retained, as they will facilitate consultations at the national level.
CONCLUSIONS AND THE WAY FORWARD: Chair Watson asked delegates to consider the meeting’s conclusions and a way forward to develop an IPBES. The Russian Federation noted that the needs of decision makers should be reflected in the Chair’s Summary, while Norway preferred adding the needs of other UN governing bodies. Mexico suggested referring to the needs of parties to the platform. Brazil reiterated its position for a new mechanism to support MEA bodies. Several delegates requested to list appropriate UN agencies that would be involved in a new mechanism, including, UNEP, FAO, UNESCO and the private sector, as well as relevant biodiversity-related conventions, including the CBD, CITES, Ramsar, the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), World Heritage Convention, FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA), and UNCCD.
Senegal offered text to ensure that there is no duplication of efforts and that the new mechanism will add value in a manner that cannot be accomplished by any other existing mechanism. Japan asked for clarity on how to prepare for IPBES III, particularly regarding governance structures. Australia requested additional information that builds on recent UNEP GC documents and the IPBES gap analysis. The UNEP Secretariat asked governments to use the preparatory documents from IPBES I in Putrajaya, Malaysia, as a basis for feedback. Brazil responded that such documents were very preliminary and agreed with Australia that the Chair’s Summary should be the basis for further discussion.
Stressing that IPBES III should finalize discussions on an IPBES, the African Group called for all necessary measures to be undertaken to facilitate conclusion of the negotiations. He called on governments and interested international organizations to support African countries to hold regional consultations in preparation for the third meeting. Chair Watson however cautioned against making regional preparations a pre-condition for convening the final IPBES meeting.
Brazil proposed additional language calling on UNEP to report to the Working Group on the Review of Implementation of the CBD (WGRI) on progress achieved in on-going discussions to enable it to consider the implications for implementation and organization of the CBD. Brazil noted, however, that this should not prejudge a possible future relationship between IPBES and CBD.
ADOPTION OF THE CHAIR’S
SUMMARY OF OUTCOMES OF DISCUSSIONS
Delegates adopted the Chair’s Summary of Outcomes of Discussions with the changes suggested during the plenary. Key aspects of the Chair’s Summary include:
FINDINGS AND NEEDS: Delegates agreed, inter alia, that:
- the gap analysis is a basis for considering ways and means of strengthening the science-policy interface;
- a strengthened science-policy interface needs scientific independence, knowledge generation, knowledge assessments, knowledge use and capacity building; and
- there is recognition that the science-policy interface can be strengthened by existing mechanisms.
Need for scientific independence: Delegates agreed, inter alia, that:
- any possible platform should be detached from other political processes; and
- no intergovernmental mechanism currently exists to meet all the needs of the multiple MEAs and processes.
Need for knowledge generation: Delegates agreed, inter alia, that:
- better coordination and collaboration is needed;
- the generation of knowledge needs to be strengthened;
- local and traditional knowledge are important; and
- an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approach is essential.
Need for knowledge assessments: Delegates agreed, inter alia, that there is a need for:
- regular and timely assessments to disseminate policy-relevant information;
- demand-driven assessments;
- thematic assessments;
- processes to approve the governance structure and scope of such assessments; and
- participation of all stakeholders, particularly at the local level.
Need for knowledge use: Delegates agreed, inter alia, that there is a need for:
- support for policy formulation and implementation; and
- use of knowledge that is policy relevant.
Need for capacity building: Delegates agreed, inter alia, that there is a need for:
- building capacity to mainstream biodiversity and ecosystem services for human well-being;
- capacity-building for the generation, assessment and use of knowledge at various levels;
- access to knowledge, training programmes, and a network of focal points;
- integration of capacity building into programmes and processes; and
- better understanding of current capacity-building activities.
FUNCTIONS OF THE PROPOSED PLATFORM: Delegates agreed, inter alia, on a platform that:
- can add value and does not replicate or duplicate existing mechanisms;
- has the ability to do thematic assessments; and
- provides knowledge that is not policy prescriptive.
GOVERNANCE STRUCTURE: Delegates agreed, inter alia, that:
- the plenary should include representatives from all governments represented in the UN; and
- there were divergent views on:
- the rules for the participation of NGOs;
- the need for a scientific advisory panel;
- the formation of working groups as described in the UNEP Secretariat’s diagrams; and
- whether the UNEP Secretariat should assess the strengths and weaknesses of various offers to host an IPBES secretariat.
CONCLUSIONS AND THE WAY FORWARD: Delegates agreed, inter alia, that:
- before establishing an IPBES some additional analysis was necessary to ensure that there was no duplication of efforts;
- the UNEP Executive Director report at the 11th special session of the GC/GMEF in February 2010 on the outcome of the present meeting, and that the UNEP GC request to convene a third and final meeting to negotiate and decide whether to establish an IPBES.
CLOSURE OF THE MEETING
The closing plenary convened on Friday afternoon. Vice Chair Alfred Oteng-Yeboah, Ghana, introduced the meeting’s report (IPBES/2/L.1/1, IPBES/2/L.1/add.1 and IPBES/2/L.1/add.2), noting that paragraphs two and four have been deleted in the first document, and paragraphs two-five in the second document as these were now included in the Chair’s Summary. Australia, with Cameroon, called for only paragraphs 69-75 that summarize the UNEP Executive Director’s statement, and the Chair’s report on the IPCC structure, to be kept in the first document. Brazil requested that the report notes the Chair’s Summary is contained in an annex, and that a modified subheading noting the content of paragraphs 69-75 be included. The Chair’s motion for the paragraphs described above to be kept was adopted. In closing, Achim Steiner thanked all participants for their participation during deliberations. The Chair closed the meeting at 7.31 pm.
CGRFA-12: The twelfth regular session of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA) is being held in Rome from 19-23 October 2009. For more information contact: CGRFA Secretariat; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; internet: http://www.fao.org/nr/cgrfa/cgrfa-meetings/cgrfa-comm/twelfth-reg/en
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THIRD MEETING ON BUSINESS AND THE 2010 BIODIVERSITY CHALLENGE: This meeting, in conjunction with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Business and Industry Global Dialogue, will take place from 30 November – 3 December 2009 in Jakarta, Indonesia. For more information, contact: CBD Secretariat; tel: +1-514-288-2220; fax: +1-514-288-6588; e-mail: email@example.com; internet: http://www.cbd.int/meetings
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17TH SESSION OF THE AFRICAN FORESTRY AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION: Being held from 22-26 February 2010 in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, this meeting will address: forestry and wildlife in support of sustainable livelihood systems in Africa; sustainable management and benefits; climate change, forests and wildlife in Africa; and other regional issues. For more information contact: Foday Bojang, FAO Regional Office for Africa; e-mail: Foday.email@example.com; internet: http://www.fao.org/forestry/afwc/en
ELEVENTH SPECIAL SESSION OF THE UNEP GOVERNING COUNCIL/GLOBAL MINISTERIAL ENVIRONMENT FORUM: The eleventh special session of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum will take place from 24 February-26 February 2010 in Bali, Indonesia. The Governing Council constitutes the annual ministerial-level global environmental forum in which participants gather to review important and emerging policy issues in the field of the environment. The Ex/COP for the Stockholm, Rotterdam and Basel Conventions is expected to convene immediately prior to this meeting. For more information contact: Jamil Ahmad, Secretary, Governing Bodies, UNEP, Tel: +254 20 762 3431; Fax: +254 20 762 3929; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; internet: http://www.unep.org/resources/gov/overview.asp
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CBD COP 10: The tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD will be held from 18-29 October 2010, in Nagoya, Japan. The meeting is expected to assess achievement of the 2010 target to reduce significantly the rate of biodiversity loss, adopt an international regime on access and benefit-sharing and celebrate the International Year of Biodiversity 2010. The High-level Segment will be held from 27-29 October. For more information, contact: CBD Secretariat; tel: +1-514-288-2220; fax: +1-514-288-6588; e-mail: email@example.com; internet: http://www.cbd.int/meetings