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New international authority on biodiversity sets top priorities

December 17, 2013

Pollination and land degradation are to be the top priorities for the Intergovernmental science-policy Platform on Biodiversity of Ecosystem Services (IPBES), known as the IPCC of the biodiversity world.

Bee - Ecosystem services

Delegates from over 100 governments reached agreement on the new international biodiversity body’s work agenda and budget for the next five years. The second meeting of the Platform (IPBES-2), which was held in Antalya, Turkey last week from December 9-14, was hailed a success by IPBES Chair, Professor Zakri, who described the “Antalya Consensus” as a “testimony of the power of collective ambition to face biodiversity challenges.”

The agenda includes a commitment to develop a set of assessments on pollination and food production, land degradation and invasive species aimed at providing policy-makers with the tools to tackle pressing environmental challenges. “There’s an old saying: We measure what we treasure,” said Dr. Zakri. “Though we profess to treasure biodiversity, most nations have yet to devote or acquire the resources needed to properly measure and assess it along with the value of ecosystem services. Correcting that is a priority assignment from the world community to IPBES.”


The new top nature platform plans to carry out two key assessments, similar to the IPCC’s climate change assessments. The first focus on pollination and food production. Three-quarters of the world’s crops depend on pollination by bees and other pollinators, but more information is needed to understand how pollination underpins food production, the IPBES said.

The second assessment will investigate the impact on land degradation and restoration on biodiversity, ecosystem services, and human well-being. With land degradation over the next 25 years threatening to reduce global food production by up to 12 percent, resulting in an increase of as much as 30 percent in global food prices, the assessment will provide a vital foundation for future policy solutions.

The Platform will also support work on the integration of indigenous and local knowledge in scientific processes, and on valuation and accounting of biodiversity and ecosystem services and has established task forces on capacity-building, biodiversity knowledge and data, and indigenous and local knowledge.

IPBES Chair Prof. Zakri closes the five-day meeting

IPBES Chair Prof. Zakri closes the five-day meeting

The IPBES was established to assist governments and the public to better understand the trends and challenges facing the natural world and humanity in the 21st century, and thus promote human wellbeing and sustainable development through the sustainable use of biodiversity. It held its first plenary meeting earlier this year and plans to have its first assessment finished by as early as December 2015.

* Look back over the formation of the IPBES as the BioFresh blog tracked it progress in a series of posts which can be accessed here (June 2010), here (July 2011)  here (Nov 2011), and here (Feb 2013).

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