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Daily report for 10 December 2013

2nd Session of the IPBES Plenary

On Tuesday, 10 December 2013, IPBES-2 reconvened in Antalya, Turkey. In the morning, delegates continued discussion on: the initial work programme of the Platform, including the draft work programme for 2014-2018 and the conceptual framework; the financial and budgetary arrangements for 2014-2018; and options for the trust fund and financial procedures. In the late morning and afternoon delegates turned to the rules and procedures for the Platform’s operation. Three contact groups also met to discuss the initial work programme and conceptual framework, the budget, and rules and procedures. 


ELECTION OF OFFICERS: The AFRICAN GROUP proposed, and the Plenary agreed, to elect Alice Akinyi Kaudia (Kenya) as alternate Bureau member for Africa. 


WORK PROGRAMME 2014-2018 AND CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK: On the conceptual framework, INDIGENOUS PEOPLES AND LOCAL COMMUNITIES urged greater emphasis on the contribution of cultures and people to nature’s services in the context of environmental change. ICSU urged prioritizing multi-scale and institutional dimensions from the outset. The RAMSAR CONVENTION urged better reflection of the role of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) as “full” Platform partners. He supported work on valuation of biodiversity and on land degradation and restoration.

The CONVENTION ON INTERNATIONAL TRADE IN ENDANGERED SPECIES OF WILD FAUNA AND FLORA (CITES) said the proposed assessment on sustainable use of biodiversity would contribute to MEAs’ work and embed capacity building and indigenous and local knowledge into IPBES’ work. The UN CONVENTION TO COMBAT DESERTIFICATION (UNCCD) supported the proposed land degradation and land restoration assessment, offering to contribute to it. ICSU supported the proposed work on modeling and scenarios, accounting and valuation, and stressed the need to assemble the best possible multi-disciplinary teams of experts.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) suggested that work they had undertaken be considered in IPBES’ activities. The CONVENTION ON MIGRATORY SPECIES (CMS) called for a global assessment on migratory species and for integrating the consideration of the role of migratory species into relevant assessments. The LEAGUE OF ARAB STATES advocated a strong partnership among science and local and indigenous knowledge, and called for the economic valuation of wetlands. The PHILIPPINES called for support for capacity building.

Contact groups on the work programme and conceptual framework, co-chaired by Bureau members Alfred Oteng-Yeboah (Africa) and Ivar Baste (Western Europe and Other States), and on the budget, co-chaired by Bureau members Spencer Thomas (GRULAC) and Jay Ram Adhikari (Asia-Pacific) were established. 


OPTIONS FOR THE TRUST FUND AND FINANCIAL PROCEDURES: The Secretariat introduced the item (IPBES/2/6 and 7). JAPAN, supported by SWITZERLAND, stressed the importance of adopting flexible funding procedures and suggested reconsidering restrictions to earmarked contributions. He also supported establishing a multi-partnership trust fund to help enhance coherence and transparency.

Argentina, on behalf of GRULAC, with CHINA, supported limitations on the earmarking of financial contributions. GRULAC said the financial rules of UNEP and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) should have been submitted for consideration before discussing the relevant proposals. GRULAC, IRAN, CÔTE D’IVOIRE, CHINA and NIGERIA proposed UNEP as the administrator of the trust fund. SWITZERLAND sought clarification on the UNDP multi-partnership trust fund option. BELGIUM and FRANCE favored this option. BELGIUM opposed funding the Earth Negotiations Bulletin directly through the IPBES budget. BOLIVIA suggested a criterion of proportionality for voluntary contributions to ensure that private contributions do not exceed government contributions.


REGIONAL STRUCTURE AND SELECTION OF THE MEP: The Secretariat introduced the item (IPBES/2/8). Bureau member Watson provided an overview of the recommendation for the regional structure, saying that it proposes keeping the standard UN regions, with five members selected from each region. On the selection of new MEP members, he indicated that the recommendation calls for regions to put forward eight potential candidates, including three preferred candidates for 15 positions on the MEP. Based on regional nominations, the Bureau would then propose candidates for the remaining MEP positions for the Plenary to decide. 

Egypt, for the AFRICAN GROUP, with GRULAC, Lithuania, for the 18 EU members of IPBES, the RUSSIAN FEDERATION, MALAWI, MEXICO, IRAN, JAPAN, SAUDI ARABIA and BAHRAIN supported selecting MEP candidates based on the five UN regions.

The AFRICAN GROUP, with GRULAC, Malaysia, for the ASIA-PACIFIC, BOLIVIA, CÔTE D’IVOIRE, RUSSIA and MALAWI urged that the regions select all their candidates for the MEP. The EU IPBES members stated that flexibility is needed. SWITZERLAND favored following a two-step approach for selecting MEP members.

GRULAC, the AFRICAN GROUP, MEXICO and NORWAY supported extending the term of the current MEP members until IPBES-3. NORWAY suggested staggering MEP members’ terms.

BOLIVIA proposed that one of the five regional members be a representative of ILCs. IUCN stressed the importance of transparency in the MEP member selection process and, with SWITZERLAND and ICSU, supported giving stakeholders the opportunity to submit nominations.

RULES FOR THE PLATFORM’S DELIVERABLES: MEP Co-Chair Mark Lonsdale introduced draft procedures for preparing the Platform’s deliverables (IPBES/2/9), noting that adopting rigorous procedures is key to ensuring high-quality IPBES products. He said three approaches for deliverables are proposed: a standard approach; a fast-track approach that should be completed in one year; and an approach for regional, subregional, eco-regional and global assessments. He suggested the Plenary request the MEP and the Bureau to review and report back at IPBES-3 on whether additional procedures might be necessary.

The EU stressed the importance of criteria and transparency for the selection of experts and sought clarification on the roles of the MEP and the Bureau. Kenya, for the AFRICAN GROUP, said a transparent, time-bound delivery process is critical. ETHIOPIA proposed deletion of references to eco-regional assessments. GRULAC called for simplifying the clearance of documents and clarifying the nomination process. BOLIVIA suggested taking ILCs’ knowledge into account. The RUSSIAN FEDERATION emphasized the intergovernmental nature of the process with respect to: elaborating on and adopting deliverables; the correction of errors; and reconciling different opinions. ICSU suggested web-based outsourcing platforms to facilitate expert involvement. IUCN highlighted the need to provide a single compendium of rules.

ADMISSION OF OBSERVERS: The Secretariat introduced the item (IPBES/2/10), noting that IPBES-1 had not reached agreement on procedures. Stressing the need for rules to encourage broad participation while ensuring appropriate expertise and qualifications, CHINA, supported by GRULAC, proposed that decisions on the admittance of observers be made by consensus. Gabon, for the AFRICAN GROUP, supported the proposed procedures. The EU said the Plenary should have the right to grant and suspend the status of observers.

 DRAFT CONFLICT OF INTEREST POLICY: MEP co-chair Lonsdale presented a draft conflict of interest policy (IPBES/2/11), noting that it: provides principles to identify and manage conflicts; differentiates conflicts of interest from bias; and proposes that a committee of Bureau members from each region and an additional member with legal expertise oversee its implementation.

The Democratic Republic of Congo, for the AFRICAN GROUP, and the EU suggested minor amendments to the draft. ARGENTINA asked if the draft policy had been reviewed by the UN Office of Legal Affairs and if it would apply to strategic partners and, with CANADA and the US, whether the ethics committee should be external to ensure impartiality. The Secretariat noted that the policy is based on rules that have been reviewed by various legal offices.

BRAZIL and ARGENTINA requested clarification on the definition of conflicts of interest. The US cautioned that excessively onerous rules could deter participation by competent experts, and supported developing interim rules.

 Delegates agreed to establish a contact group on rules and procedures, co-chaired by Bureau members Robert Watson (Western Europe and Other States) and Leonel Sierralta (GRULAC).



Bureau member Leonel Sierralta (GRULAC) said that a stepwise approach had been taken for developing a draft stakeholder engagement strategy to enable adequate consultations with stakeholders. On the communication strategy, he said that it aims to: add value to existing communication efforts; promote the Platform and its work; publicize opportunities to contribute to the Platform; and support the operation of the Platform. On the proposed guidance on strategic partnerships, he said that it has been developed to support the work programme.


BUDGET: The contact group on the budget met during lunch. Participants discussed pledges and in-kind contributions for 2013 and pledges for 2014-2018. They also addressed staffing issues at the Secretariat, with some participants expressing concern that recruitment had yet to be completed, particularly as the work programme is due to commence at the start of 2014. The planned expenditure on communications was also discussed. Discussions will continue.

RULES AND PROCEDURES: In the contact group discussion, participants considered whether the MEP should be composed of 25 members or include additional members to represent ILCs. Many delegates supported that the number of members be 25 and indigenous and local knowledge representation be ensured by providing guidance on balanced representation to the regions.

Delegates also addressed the need to ensure: continuity within the MEP by, for instance, avoiding split terms; and that the MEP possesses a range of skills. Many noted that balance is needed at the MEP level, rather than within each region, while others suggested that regional balance is also necessary. Among ways to achieve balance in the MEP, participants suggested an iterative process involving discussions among regions to flag expected nominations. Discussions continued into the evening, including on procedures for the Platform’s deliverables.

WORK PROGRAMME AND THE CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK: The afternoon contact group started addressing the work programme’s conceptual framework. Some countries suggested, and others opposed, referring to “ecosystem services” rather than just “ecosystems.” Other proposals included: incorporating references to “nature,” “Mother Earth systems of life,” and removing references to “socio-ecological ecosystems.” The contact group reconvened in the evening to consider, paragraph by paragraph, the draft work programme for the period 2014–2018. Discussions continued into the night.


Day 2 saw delegates delving into the issues of budget, rules and procedures, and stakeholder engagement strategies. Widespread agreement that effective engagement with stakeholders and balanced representation are key to ensuring IPBES’ success and legitimacy was not enough to avoid a divergence of views on how to get there. Some reiterated that IPBES should treat stakeholders as “partners,” rather than “stakeholders.” However, as one NGO representative commented, “the lack of support for a proposal to enable stakeholders to submit nominations to the MEP shows that many see a role for stakeholders in implementation, as opposed to agenda-setting or policy-making.”

Some participants countered this, pointing to the “genuine desire” on the part of many IPBES members to ensure that all relevant voices, including indigenous and local knowledge, are represented in the governance structure, budget and outputs of the Platform. This was evident in the satisfaction expressed by some participants when a proposal was tabled to develop draft procedures for integrating indigenous and local knowledge into the fast track assessments. A stakeholder participant sighed: “progress could be made if IPBES can take the lead in engaging stakeholders through the adoption of these kinds of proposal.”

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