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UNEP-WCMC at IPBES-10: advancing global consensus on science and policy for nature

Photo by IISD/ENB | Anastasia Rodopoulou

This week, experts from the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) are in Bonn, Germany, for the annual meeting of the intergovernmental body that provides an interface between science and policy on biodiversity and ecosystem services: the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

Between now and Friday, the 10th session of IPBES’s governing body (IPBES-10) will reach an authoritative consensus on the best available science relating to invasive alien species. The resulting report will be an assessment of the threat that invasive alien species pose to biodiversity, ecosystem services, sustainable development and human well-being, and options to respond to these threats. Government representatives to the Plenary will reach a consensus on the final wording of the report’s Summary for Policymakers, with inputs from technical experts.

UNEP-WCMC’s team are on-site in Bonn, and will be tracking and supporting the discussions between representatives of the Plenary’s 143 members, holding side meetings and highlighting our expertise and ongoing collaborative work guiding governments and businesses to act for nature.

As host of the Technical Support Unit for policy support tools and methodologies, UNEP-WCMC will provide technical support to the IPBES task force during the Plenary.

Invasive alien species are one of the main direct drivers of biodiversity loss , but the threats they pose are still poorly quantified and little understood by decision-makers. UNEP-WCMC is therefore looking forward to the release of this thematic IPBES assessment. The consensus achieved in this assessment report will provide an important steer for countries, industry and the wider trade and environmental community engaged in implementing the new Global Biodiversity Framework – which explicitly highlights the importance of urgent action to address invasive alien species.

Neville Ash, Director of UNEP-WCMC

Supporting countries at IPBES-10

Beyond the IPBES Plenary itself, UNEP-WCMC is providing support to countries around the IPBES process. As well as policymakers, government leaders and scientists converging in Bonn, conservation and sustainable business experts, members of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, and representatives of civil society organisations will be present to discuss issues on the meeting’s agenda.

UNEP-WCMC’s National Ecosystem Assessment Initiative, which works in partnership with UNESCO and UNDP as part of BESNet, helps countries through the stages of developing their national ecosystem assessments (NEAs) – nationally driven comprehensive assessments of a country’s biodiversity and ecosystem services status, and how nature links with and contributes to a nation’s peoples and economy. 

UNEP-WCMC also is a cooperating partner on the Capacity Development for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Experts (CABES) project. The project aims to develop and strengthen the capacity of professionals in biodiversity-related fields in eight countries in West, Central and East Africa to establish national IPBES focal points and boost their engagement in the IPBES process.

Tomorrow – Tuesday 29 August  – UNEP-WCMC is convening a lunchtime event for the NEA Initiative, CABES and BESNet projects, aimed at facilitating the exchange of knowledge and partnership opportunities. Representatives from the countries that are currently being supported will come together to discuss their progress on establishing and implementing national biodiversity platforms and networks, and how they can enable inputs from a wide variety of stakeholders into biodiversity-related decision-making.

Separately, CABES organised a networking event for representatives on Sunday 27 August, and is running meetings in parallel to the Plenary. On Wednesday 30 August a CABES event will bring together representatives from the eight African countries supported by the project, aiming to establish and strengthen their national multistakeholder biodiversity platforms.

Paving the way for IPBES-11 and 12

One of the major reports due to be published at next year’s IPBES conference is the assessment of the interlinkages among biodiversity, water, energy, food and health - known as the ‘Nexus Assessment’. This will examine the connections between these systems and how countries can manage them holistically. UNEP-WCMC is lending a diverse range of expertise to the Nexus Assessment, including our Lead Economist James Vause, who is serving as a coordinating lead author. Our Lead Biodiversity Trends Scientist Dr Sam Hill and Deputy Head of Nature-based Solutions Dr Caroline King-Okumu, are serving as lead authors and Dr Seb Dunnett, a Senior Programme Officer in our Nature Economy team, is an assessment fellow.  

Through IPBES, the international community decides on how best to advance the interface of science and policy on biodiversity and ecosystem services. We’re proud to contribute to multiple of strands of this hugely important process and look forward to seeing our contribution on holistic policymaking for people and nature launch next year.

Claire Brown, UNEP-WCMC’s Principal Technical Specialist – Policy

UNEP-WCMC’s work as a partner on the BIONEXT project will also directly feed into the Nexus Assessment. BIONEXT seeks to identify pathways to sustainable societies in Europe by acknowledging the links between biodiversity, water, food, energy, transport, climate and health. It is also analysing policies to find out if they address issues as a nexus rather than in siloes, and how policymaking and governance that is structured around these links can achieve transformative change.

Looking further ahead, UNEP-WCMC is also the co-host of the Technical Support Unit (TSU) for IPBES’s forthcoming global assessment on the relationship between business and biodiversity. Under the leadership of the Alexander von Humboldt Biological Resources Research Institute, the TSU provides technical, scientific and administrative support to the new assessment, due in 2025.

Matt Jones, UNEP-WCMC’s Chief Impact Officer, serves as co-chair of the Business and Biodiversity Assessment and will update the Plenary this week on the assessment’s progress.

Image: IISD/ENB / Anastasia Rodopoulou

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