Representatives of the 124 member states of the World Biodiversity Council IPBES are meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 22-28 February. The primary goal of the Fourth Plenary is acceptance of the first two scientific reports by the political representatives. Among other things, the reports describe the global importance of pollinators for food security and list the causes of the sharp decline, together with possible countermeasures.
IPBES was established in 2012 by the UN General Assembly. The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services is intended to raise awareness of the value of biodiversity and the consequences its loss would have on human welfare. At the technical level, IPBES will support the global negotiations on nature conservation policy, specifically within the framework of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), with a uniform knowledge base on the most urgent problem areas. The lack of progress on achieving the UN biodiversity goals has been attributed (among other reasons) to the disparate and incomplete knowledge base of the state representatives at the global negotiations.
Around one thousand scientists from all parts of the world are currently working on twelve reports, which will be presented successively up to 2019. Like the IPCC, they are evaluating our current knowledge, rather than producing new studies. The result will be a consolidated overview recognised by all member states and relevant interest groups of the relevant knowledge of various areas of biodiversity. Besides scientists and governments, other stakeholders participating in this process include representatives of industry and nature conservation associations, and also indigenous groups.
Stakeholder knowledge becomes interesting wherever the limits are reached for science and its data. There is no monitoring system for biodiversity on a global scale, according to Josef Settele of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Halle, Germany, who is participating in developing the assessments. Practical knowledge and indigenous knowledge from generations of experience could supplement long-term studies and enrich the reports with proposals for measures for alternative and traditional forms of use. Systematic integration of indigenous and local knowledge in this form is, however, a novelty, which Settele sees as posing a certain challenge to the stringent quality standards scientists are accustomed to.
NeFo, the German science-policy interface for biodiversity research