Message from the Director General

25 May 2012 | Article

Dear members of the IUCN network, after years of international negotiations, the world has just seen the establishment of IPBES, a top global platform that is to regularly assess the state of biodiversity, our fragile ecosystems and the essential services they provide to all of us. 

I am delighted to see the commitment of the world’s governments, including IUCN State Members, to strengthening science-policy links on biodiversity and its benefits. I warmly congratulate all of those from the IUCN network and beyond who have been instrumental in this crucial step forward.

Our experience with science, knowledge and policy, as well as our unique nature as a Union of governments and nearly 1,000 NGOs, put IUCN at the heart of civil society’s involvement in the development of IPBES. We have been strongly supporting the negotiations process for IPBES since 2008, advocating for the engagement of non-governmental actors - from academia to indigenous peoples - both as knowledge providers and end users of assessments and other products that IPBES will deliver.

I am pleased to learn that our efforts have contributed to the governments agreeing to ensure active and efficient participation of civil society in the work of IPBES. The official creation of IPBES provides a new opportunity for IUCN to support the Platform in all of its functions.

Our Union has been a pioneer in generating knowledge about biodiversity and ecosystem services for more than 60 years. It has contributed to virtually all of the relevant global environmental assessments, including the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and its follow up. IUCN has designed, alone and in collaboration with other organizations, numerous knowledge products to support policy development and implementation and has significantly contributed to building capacity for enhancing the science-policy links on biodiversity and conservation related issues.

It is encouraging to see that IUCN has been recognized for the quality of its knowledge products, and we are honoured to be viewed as a credible and honest facilitator for the coordination of civil society, whose inputs are unanimously called for.

Your efforts in supporting scientific research, managing field projects and bringing together governments, conservation NGOs, indigenous groups, business, international agencies and the scientific community, are important building blocks for the contribution that IUCN can make to support this new Platform.

The first IPBES plenary session will be held early next year but its preparation starts now! UNEP, as the interim IPBES Secretariat, will carry out an overview of assessments and will call for national submissions on capacity building. I have no doubt that these pilot actions will lay the ground for the future activities of IPBES. IUCN stands ready to help its State Members organize the necessary consultations and to develop pilot actions that would get the Platform off to a flying start.

I invite you to read this special issue highlighting the ways in which IUCN has contributed to the establishment of IPBES so far. We are looking forward to working hand-in-hand with all of you by sharing our knowledge and supporting policymakers to ensure the appreciation of nature and its invaluable role for our wellbeing.

Sincerely yours,

Julia Marton-Lefèvre
IUCN Director General