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First regional consultation of the Consultative Process Towards an International Mechanism Of Scientific Expertise on Biodiversity (IMoSEB)

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Tuesday 30
Wednesday 31
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Highlights from Wednesday, 31 January


The North American regional meeting of the Consultative Process Towards an IMoSEB concluded at 3:20 pm on Wednesday, 31 January. In the morning, participants reconvened in the working groups that had started the previous afternoon. While no consensus was reached in the groups on a possible IMoSEB, a wide range of options and proposals were considered, ranging from a new high-level mechanism, to working to improve existing bodies and groups instead. Discussions continued in plenary late morning and in the afternoon, with a range of ideas and options continuing to be expressed. 

Above photo: Chair John Karau, Environment Canada with Michel Loreau, McGill University


Philippe Le Prestre reported back to plenary on discussions from working group two. On needs, he indicated that participants had not identified priority needs, although they had focused on two areas: bringing science to decision making and strategies to make decision makers listen; and improving science and the need to improve inter-disciplinary approaches and multi-stakeholder involvement.


Liette Vasseur, Laurentian University, the rapporteur for working group one, reported back to plenary on the group’s discussions. She highlighted the need to target the appropriate decision makers in the process, noting that the “middle of the pyramid” would likely be most effective. She also noted various concerns, including the challenge of communicating biodiversity issues to the public. 

Antony Challenger, who acted as rapporteur for working group three, presented a summary of the discussions. He noted questions about what is already done by other groups and that IMoSEB had been mooted because CBD is not fulfilling its role in full, with SBSTTA too politicized and needing to refocus on science. He suggested, however, that failure to implement biodiversity science is not a failing of CBD but of governments, and IMoSEB may have a role in correcting this. 

Following the reports back to plenary, Chair John Karau reflected on the working group discussions. He noted a focus in the groups on the “what, why and how,” and a sense that the status quo is not providing all of is needed, given that serious biodiversity loss is continuing. He also noted comments that we need to be able to address needs at various levels, from the international to local. He drew attention to comments in all groups that we do not yet have a comprehensive needs assessment that consider the gaps and niches or complete information on the activities of existing institutions.

Leonard Hirsch, Smithsonian Institute, suggested that calls for an IMoSEB had resulted from frustration at lack of funding support for multi-disciplinary, long-term comparable information—which is what is needed in this area.

Clark Miller, rapporteur of working group two, noted a tension between the view that biodiversity is an issue that requires global governance and the view that it should be addressed primarily as a local or national issue, since this is where the biodiversity challenges are actually dealt with.

Daniel Benoit, Metis National Council Canada, said the role of indigenous knowledge holders should be adequately addressed.

Michel Loreau
, McGill University and IMoSEB International Steering Committee, shared his views on the IMoSEB process. He stressed the escalating nature of the biodiversity crisis and emphasized that, even in the contemporary complex landscape, there is room to move forward with respect to improving the science-policy interface. He noted that changes in this regard must emanate both from policy making and the scientific community.

Reflecting on the discussions over the past two days, Chair John Karau noted that, while the meeting had not made as much progress as some might have liked, it did produce a valuable and honest reflection on the issue. He thanked those supporting the process, including the IMoSEB Secretariat, City of Montreal, CEC, Environment Canada, and Canadian Commission for UNESCO. He recalled the comment that “we should not only measure our success by our technological advances, but also by that which we do not destroy.” The meeting closed at 3:20 pm. 

Above photo: Chair John Karau, Environment Canada and Michel Loreau, McGill University at the close of the meeting.

YMB IMoSEB Snapshots:

This service was prepared in cooperation with the IMoSEB Consultative Process Secretariat 


IMoSEB Resources
IMoSEB Consultative process Secretariat
IMoSEB Information Center and Documents
IMoSEB regional consultations
IMoSEB Concept Note
Report on Progress of the Consultative Progress at CBD COP-8

IISD RS Resources
IISD Reporting Services summary of the Biodiversity: Science and Governance conference, Paris, January 2005
SD Coverage of the International Conference on Biodiversity, 2005

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