Establishment of IPBES: Implications for global, regional and national policy

In a recent article, Ibrahim Thiaw and Richard Munang from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have outlined a number of ways forward for the newly created IPBES. Those include finding innovative ways to combine existing knowledge systems, engaging civil society and integrating economic thinking into biodiversity and ecosystem protection.

With an estimated commercial value exceeding US$2 billion per year, the Mekong is the world’s most valuable inland fishery

Ibrahim Thiaw and Richard Munang write:

"Sustainably managing biodiversity and ecosystem services offers a cost-effective mechanism for coping with future environmental change. An opportunity for the newly created IPBES is to find innovative ways to combine existing knowledge systems, including scientific and indigenous knowledge, to inform policy makers. IPBES would be a key mechanism making this knowledge rapidly deployable, giving immediate positive effects. An essential component should be the need for training, education and information sharing, where “learning by doing” could provide an important process of building capacity, while at the same time conducting assessments and generating knowledge.

The establishment of a transparent process that secures the participation of relevant knowledge holders in the assessment process would be of key importance, since it is a prerequisite to generate credible and legitimate outcomes. It will also be essential to establish open access to all results as well as to all scientific documents, data used, and methods applied.

Decisions for better managing and protecting biodiversity and ecosystem services should be based on good independent science and an understanding of the full biodiversity-economic trade-offs.

At a global scale, decisions need to be made within the context of an underpinning rationale where biodiversity protection takes precedence. This requires a fundamental shift in the structure of the world’s current economic models, where resource consumption is the primary driver.

Instead, there is a need to develop economic models, informed by IPBES and related processes, that reverse the market failures of the existing models by fully valuing biodiversity and ecosystem services. IPBES could incorporate methodological know-how from the TEEB process which achieved partial mainstreaming of biodiversity by increasing accounting of the economic benefits of biodiversity in national planning.

New models must be able to balance the capacity of the world's ecosystems to provide essential services with the basic needs of all sections of human society in an equitable way. Such models need to foster greater individual and global collective responsibility and facilitate a shared equity of resource use.

The synergies between objectives need to be better recognized by governments, who must facilitate change by supporting both top-down and bottom-up initiatives. Similarly, businesses and communities need to take advantage of the economic benefits that biodiversity and ecosystems service will bring.

Integrating biodiversity in daily decision-making at all levels would benefit from the support and participation of civil society, including media, NGOs and the general public. Only by collectively addressing the multiple issues of biodiversity loss in an integrative way will synergistic solutions be developed."

Read the full article Establishment of IPBES: Implications for Global, Regional and National Policy written by Ibrahim Thiaw and Richard Munang on IISD Biodiversity Policy & Practice knowledgebase.


Work area: 
Global Policy
Environmental Law
Environmental Law
Environmental Law
Environmental Governance
Environmental Law
Ecosystem Services
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