IPBES Meeting Day One

08 June 2010 | News story

After a formal opening ceremony with speeches from the Korean Minister of Environment, the Major of Busan, and the Executive Director of UNEP, the first day of the 3rd Intergovernmental and Multistakeholder IPBES meeting considered opening statements from governments and organizations, and an initial series of comments on the need for a new mechanism, and the scope of its audience. 

After a formal opening ceremony with speeches from the Korean Minister of Environment, the Major of Busan, and the Executive Director of UNEP, the first day of the 3rd Intergovernmental and Multistakeholder IPBES meeting considered opening statements from governments and organizations, and an initial series of comments on the need for a new mechanism, and the scope of its audience. During the afternoon, some elements of the function of IPBES were also considered, namely the role of IPBES in generating new knowledge, and the role of IPBES in assessing knowledge.
The vast majority of interventions were positive towards establishing a new mechanism, although there were a number of concerns raised about how a decision can be taken on this before considering its proposed functions and form, and therefore its cost. On the issue of whose needs IPBES should respond to, there was a surprising level of support for meeting the needs of a multistakeholder community, beyond the biodiversity-related Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs), and many countries supporting full stakeholder participation in identifying key questions for IPBES to address. However, a number of countries expressed concerns about how the needs of the broad multistakeholder community could be addressed in practice, and it was recognized that clear procedures would be needed for this to work effectively. A few countries preferred a much narrower focus on the MEAs.
On the potential functions of IPBES, there was near consensus that the mechanism would not conduct new research, or generate new data, but would build on existing research and knowledge, as per the IPCC procedure. There was broad support for IPBES identifying gaps in knowledge, and then facilitating a dialogue between policy makers, the scientific community, and donors, to help fill the gaps.
On assessment functions, there was consensus that the platform should not conduct national assessments, but rather focus at the international and regional level, with some further support for sub-regional assessments.
And that took us through to the end of the day – so lots of progress, but some of the sticky issues still to come, including on the capacity building function of IPBES, and on IPBES’ governance. It’s likely that both of these issues will come up for a first discussion tomorrow, and by the end of tomorrow we will likely be in a position to update the so-called “working document” to reflect the progress to date, and begin negotiations. This will then lead to a final, 3rd version of the paper for consideration at the end of the week, in time for a final decision to be taken on establishing IPBES, and on much of its function, scope and form.
IUCN made two interventions today – one with various opening remarks, and one on the value of multistakeholder involvement in determining the needs for IPBES to address. The Korean Business Council on Sustainable Development also made an intervention on behalf of WBCSD, to highlight the importance of considering the role and needs of business in the design of IPBES. Feedback on each of these interventions suggests that they were well received.