Global Scientific Organization 
Launches New Assessment of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

3-year Study Will Measure Progress as 2020 Deadline Nears 
for Reaching Biodiversity Goals
Will Be Guided by Newly Adopted Approach 
for Evaluating Biodiversity-Related Policy Options
IPBES Elects Sir Robert Watson as Chair of New Bureau 
Kuala Lumpur - February 28, 2016 - The launch of an ambitious new three-year scientific assessment of biodiversity and ecosystem services was announced today at the close of a week-long meeting of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).  

The new global assessment, for completion by 2019, will measure progress towards meeting commitments under the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity of the United Nation's Convention on Biological Diversity (the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, 2011-2020) and the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals, agreed to by 193 UN members nations in September 2015. 

IPBES also announced the completion of an assessment of scenarios and models that provide a new approach for helping policy makers evaluate the impacts of their decisions related to biodiversity and ecosystems services protection.

The report, titled The Methodological Assessment of Scenarios and Models of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, was adopted Sunday by representatives of IPBES's 124 member nations.

The report describes how scenarios and models can help decision makers evaluate the future impacts of today's policies or management decisions. Examples include the use of scenarios and models to sustainably manage fisheries or to carry out land use planning that balances needs for development and biodiversity protection.  

"The scenarios and models assessment is the starting gun for mobilizing scientists, decision makers and other stakeholders to jointly embark on an ambitious, global effort to better understand and use scientific information about biodiversity and ecosystem services," said Karachepone N. Ninan, Ph.D., IPBES Co-Chair of the scenarios and models assessment and Chairperson of the Centre for Economics, Environment and Society in Bangalore, India.

The scenarios and models will help make better use of the IPBES regional and global assessments, including the new one about to be undertaken. The assessment was conducted by 83 experts and cited more than 3,000 scientific papers and, in two rounds of peer review, received 4,066 comments from 230 indepdent reviewers.

"IPBES's goal is to give policymakers and all of society a more complete understanding of how people and nature interact, and how policy and management decisions made today might affect these interactions in the future," said Simon Ferrier, Ph.D., the scenarios and models assessment's other Co-Chair and Senior Principal Research Scientist with CSIRO, Australia's National Science Agency.

The new biodiversity and ecosystem services assessment will be overseen by a new IPBES Bureau that was elected today by the organization's member nations meeting in Kuala Lumpur at the IPBES 4th annual plenary, (IPBES-4).  

Sir Robert Watson
Sir Robert Watson, the organization's former Vice-Chair and the former Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was elected Chair of IPBES by acclamation.  Dr. Watson serves as Director of Strategic Development at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, University of East Anglia.

He succeeds Zakri Abdul Hamid, who led IPBES from its inauguration in 2012.  Prof. Zakri is a renowned expert in science diplomacy. He currently serves as Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of Malaysia, is one of 24 members of the UN Secretary General's Scientific Advisory Board, and co-Chairs the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT). 

Zakri Abdul Hamid
Said Prof. Zakri: "The release of two outstanding assessment reports at IPBES-4, including Friday'slandmark report on pollinators, marks the emergence of the organization as a major global voice for biodiversity and ecosystem services.  I am honoured to have chaired the meetings of IPBES over these first few years. I wish my friend and successor Bob Watson and all IPBES stakeholders continuing success in this work so vital to humanity and to all the species with which we share the Earth."

Dr. Watson, addressing the Plenary, said:  "It is an honor to have been elected the second chair of the IPBES, and in particular to have been chosen to succeed Dr. Zakri, who has so ably led the IPBES through its early and formative stages.  He is a gentleman, a world-renowned scientist, a statesman, and a man with incredible integrity who has worked at the forefront of the science-policy interface." 

New IPBES Vice Chairs 
  • Alfred Oteng Yeboah (Ghana)
  • Asghar Mohammedi Fazel (Islamic Republic of Iran)
  • Senka Barudanovic (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
  • Spencer Thomas (Grenada)

New IPBES Bureau Members
  • Fundisile Goodman Mketeni (South Africa)
  • Youngbae Suh (Republic of Korea)
  • Rashad Allahverdiyev (Azerbaijan)
  • Diego Pacheco Balanza (Bolivia) 
  • Ivar Baste (Norway)

Quotes from supporting organizations

"Early outputs of IPBES have demonstrated the unique value of this Platform. Proceeding with an updated global assessment through IPBES will help ensure that we have the best available knowledge to inform our collective efforts toward achieving the Global Goals for Sustainable Development."
Achim Steiner, Executive Director
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

"Scenarios are important tools for sound management based on societal choices. UNESCO supports the use of scenarios, especially participatory scenarios, to inform decision-making on biodiversity and ecosystem services. Co-production of knowledge using diverse participatory approaches and involving a diversity of stakeholders is key to such choices and decisions." 
Irina Bokova, Director General 
Scientific and Development Organization (UNESCO)

"FAO's assessments including the State of the World's Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture to be launched next year will be an important and timely contribution to the IPBES global assessment of biodiversity and ecosystem services. FAO welcomes the collaboration of the different sectors and stakeholders in the areas of environment and agriculture on global assessments, such as the IPBES assessment of biodiversity and ecosystem services."
José Maria Graziano, Director-General 
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

"Decision-making based on sound science and taking into account traditional knowledge is critical for maintaining and enhancing the goods and services that our ecosystems provide. These two IPBES assessments present new opportunities for integrated and informed approaches to development solutions in implementing Agenda 2030. This is particularly significant to UNDP as we commemorate our 50th anniversary, and are looking toward the future of people and planet."
Nik Sekhran, Director/Chief of Profession, Sustainable Development, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

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The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is similar to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  It was established in April 2012 as an independent intergovernmental body for assessing the state of the planet's biodiversity, its ecosystems and the essential services they provide to society.  IPBES is open to all member countries of the United Nations and currently has over 124 members.

IPBES assessments provide policymakers with scientifically credible and independent information with which to make informed decisions about how to protect biodiversity and ecosystem services.  The assessments also put forth methods to interpret the findings and reflect the complex relationships between biodiversity, ecosystem services, and people. Although IPBES assessments lay out various policy options, they do not make policy recommendations. 

IPBES assessments are conducted by leading experts who synthesize, review, assess and critically evaluate relevant information and knowledge generated worldwide by governments, academia, scientific organizations, non-governmental organizations and indigenous and local communities. IPBES experts, who belong to organizations, institutions and the private sector from around the world, volunteer their time these assessments.  They are selected based on nominations from governments and interested organisations. There are currently about 1,000 experts contributing, from all regions of the world, to the work of IPBES.

The work of IPBES is supported by a Secretariat based in Bonn, Germany.  It is placed under the auspices of these four United Nations programmes/organisations:  United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP); United Nations Educational, Scientific and Development Organization (UNESCO); Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
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