The procedures through which science-based advice is best developed and delivered to sustainable development policy-making processes are again receiving prominent attention.
Looking back on the enthusiasm following the announcement that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) would receive the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize (Editor’s Note, 11 October 2007), it would have been hard to predict that in March 2010, an independent review would be arranged to review that Panel’s procedures and processes. According to the Terms of Reference for the review, it will examine quality control and guidelines for the types of literature appropriate for use in assessments, with special attention to non-peer review literature. The review will also look at the Panel’s procedures for Government review of IPCC materials, its handling of the full range of scientific views, and its procedures for correcting errors. The report has been requested by 31 August 2010, so it can be considered at the 32nd session of the IPCC in October.
While the climate regime will ultimately benefit from the increased transparency of the IPCC’s processes and suggestions for improvement, other issue areas are also likely to draw lessons from this review. The biodiversity and desertification communities are both engaged in search processes for improved means to bring scientific advice into their regimes. Both have been paying close attention to the mechanisms in place to make climate science available to policy makers, and have even been accused of “climate-envy.” The review of the IPCC’s procedures will not be available in time for the “third and final” ad hoc intergovernmental and multi-stakeholder meeting to negotiate and reach agreement on whether to establish an Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), which is anticipated to take place in June. But it could feed into the discussions of an IPBES during the high-level segment on biological diversity of the 65th session of the UN General Assembly, which is scheduled for September 2010.
The timing of the report may be more propitious for the UN Convention to Combat Desertification’s (UNCCD) deliberations. In November, the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention and its Committee on Science and Technology are scheduled to discuss the forum used to enhance scientific input to the Convention – the first UNCCD scientific conference – which convened in September 2009. We will be reporting on these upcoming events, as decision makers seek to learn from one regime while they tailor their response to the circumstances of other processes, in an effort to deliver sustainable development.