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3rd Session of the IPBES Plenary

The third session of the Plenary of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) opens today in Bonn, Germany and will continue until Saturday, 17 January. Throughout the week, the Plenary will consider agenda items on: the report of the Executive Secretary on the implementation of the work programme, 2014–2018; the initial programme of work of the Platform, 2014-2018; financial and budgetary arrangements for the Platform; rules and procedures for the operation of the Platform; communications and stakeholder engagement; institutional arrangements regarding UN collaborative partnership agreement; and the agenda, dates and venue of future sessions of the Plenary. There are currently 123 members of the Platform.


Biodiversity and ecosystem services are declining at an unprecedented rate. To address this challenge, adequate local, national and international policies need to be adopted and implemented, underpinned by scientifically credible and independent information that takes into account the complex relationships between biodiversity, ecosystem services, and people. Recognizing that there is a need for strengthening the dialogue between the scientific community, governments, and other stakeholders on biodiversity and ecosystem services, a series of consultations to discuss this began in 2005 through the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) follow-up process and the consultative process on an International Mechanism of Scientific Expertise on Biodiversity (IMoSEB).

MILLENNIUM ECOSYSTEM ASSESSMENT:From 2001 to 2005, the MA assessed the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being. The outcomes provided the first state-of-the-art scientific appraisal of the conditions and trends in the world’s ecosystems and the services they provide, as well as the scientific basis for action to conserve and use them sustainably. In 2007, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) conducted an evaluation of the MA and initiated the MA follow-up process.

IMOSEB PROCESS: The IMoSEB consultative process was initiated at the Paris Conference on Biodiversity, Science and Governance in January 2005. The International Steering Committee met for the first time in February 2006, where participants concurred that the current system for linking science and policy in the area of biodiversity needed improvement. The second meeting, held in December 2006, reported on the results of a number of case studies and identified a series of “needs and options.” A document outlining key ideas, designed to assist participants during the regional consultations, was prepared by the Executive Secretariat and distributed in January 2007. Regional consultations were held from January - November 2007.

The final meeting of the IMoSEB International Steering Committee, held in November 2007, reviewed the outcomes of the regional consultations and further discussed the needs and options for an IMoSEB, as well as how to improve the science-policy interface for biodiversity at all levels. In its final statement, while not recommending the formation of a new institution, the International Steering Committee agreed to invite donors and governments to provide support for the further and urgent consideration of the establishment of a science-policy interface. It further invited the Executive Director (ED) of UNEP and others to convene a meeting to consider establishing such an interface.

IPBES CONCEPT: Following the invitation to the UNEP ED, there was also consensus among stakeholders involved in the follow-up initiative for the MA that the follow up to the IMoSEB process and the MA follow-up process should merge, leading to the process to establish an IPBES. A joint meeting “IMoSEB-MA Follow up: Strengthening the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Interface on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services” took place in March 2008 to develop a common approach.

The IMoSEB outcome and the IPBES concept note were also considered in 2008 by the ninth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 9). In Decision IX/15 (follow-up to the MA), the COP welcomed the decision of the UNEP ED to convene an Ad Hoc Intergovernmental and Multi-Stakeholder Meeting on an IPBES, and requested the CBD Ad Hoc Working Group on Review of Implementation to consider the meeting’s outcomes.

FIRST AD HOC INTERGOVERNMENTAL AND MULTI-STAKEHOLDER MEETING ON AN IPBES:This meeting was held from 10-12 November 2008, in Putrajaya, Malaysia. Participants adopted a Chair’s summary, recommending that the UNEP Executive Director report the meeting’s outcomes to the twenty-fifth session of the UNEP Governing Council (GC-25) and convene a second meeting. The summary contained two additional recommendations: to continue exploring mechanisms to improve the science-policy interface on biodiversity and ecosystem services for human well-being and sustainable development; and that UNEP undertake a preliminary gap analysis to facilitate the discussions, to be made available to the UNEP GC.

UNEP GC-25/GMEF: The 25th session of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GC-25/GMEF), held in February 2009 in Nairobi, Kenya, adopted Decision 25/10 calling on UNEP to conduct further work to explore ways and means to strengthen the science-policy interface on biodiversity. In response to the decision, UNEP invited governments and organizations to participate in an open peer review of the preliminary gap analysis on existing interfaces on biodiversity and ecosystem services. These comments were incorporated into the final gap analysis.

SECOND AD HOC INTERGOVERNMENTAL AND MULTI-STAKEHOLDER MEETING ON AN IPBES: Held from 5-9 October 2009 in Nairobi, Kenya, participants exchanged views on the major findings of the gap analysis, options to strengthen the science-policy interface, functions and possible governance structures of an IPBES. Participants adopted a Chair’s Summary of Outcomes and Discussions, which highlighted areas of agreement and reflected the differing views expressed during the meeting.

UNEP GCSS-11/GMEF: The 11th Special Session of the UNEP Governing Council/GMEF, held during February 2010 in Bali, Indonesia, adopted a decision calling on UNEP to organize a final meeting to establish an IPBES.

THIRD AD HOC INTERGOVERNMENTAL AND MULTI-STAKEHOLDER MEETING ON AN IPBES: This meeting was held from 7-11 June 2010 in Busan, Republic of Korea. Delegates discussed whether to establish an IPBES and negotiated text on considerations for the platform’s functions, guiding principles and recommendations. They adopted the Busan Outcome, agreeing that an IPBES should be established and be scientifically independent, calling for collaboration with existing initiatives on biodiversity and ecosystem services. It was also agreed that the UN General Assembly (UNGA) be invited to consider the conclusions of the meeting and take appropriate action for establishing an IPBES.

SIXTY-FIFTH UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY: The sixty-fifth session of the UNGA adopted Resolution 65/162 on 20 December 2010, which requested UNEP to fully operationalize the platform and convene a plenary meeting to determine the modalities and institutional arrangements for the platform at the earliest opportunity.

UNEP GC-26/GMEF: This meeting, held from 21-24 February 2011 in Nairobi, Kenya, adopted Decision 26/4, endorsing the outcome of IPBES-III and calling for the convening of a plenary session for an IPBES to determine the modalities and institutional arrangements of the platform.

1ST SESSION OF A PLENARY FOR AN IPBES: The first session of the plenary meeting for an IPBES met from 3-7 October 2011 at UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. Delegates considered the modalities and institutional arrangements for an IPBES, including: the functions and operating principles of the platform; legal issues relating to the establishment and operationalization of the platform; the work programme of the platform; and the criteria for selecting host institutions and the physical location of the secretariat.

2ND SESSION OF A PLENARY FOR AN IPBES: The second session of the plenary meeting for an IPBES took place from 16-21 April 2012 in Panama City, Panama. Delegates considered the modalities and institutional arrangements for the IPBES, including functions and structures of bodies that might be established under the platform, rules of procedure, and the work programme of the platform. Delegates selected Bonn, Germany, as the physical location of the IPBES Secretariat and adopted a resolution establishing IPBES.

IPBES-1: The first session of the Plenary of IPBES met from 21-26 January 2013 in Bonn, Germany. Delegates: elected the IPBES Chair, the Bureau and the Multidisciplinary Expert Panel (MEP); adopted an initial budget; and agreed on steps toward the development of an initial IPBES work programme, 2014-2018. Other issues that were discussed but remained unresolved included the rules of procedure on the admission of observers.

IPBES-2: The second session of the Plenary of IPBES met from 9-14 December 2013 in Antalya, Turkey. Delegates adopted the Antalya Consensus, which included decisions on: the work programme for 2014-2018, including fast track, thematic, regional and subregional assessments and activities for capacity building; a conceptual framework considering different knowledge systems; and rules and procedures for the Platform on, inter alia, procedures for the preparation of the Platform’s deliverables. Anne Larigauderie was appointed as the first IPBES Executive Secretary.  


MULTIDISCIPLINARY EXPERT PANEL: The MEP met for its third session in Bonn from 8-10 March 2014 and held its fourth session in Bonn from 7-11 July 2014. Among other things, the MEP set up an expert group to develop a methodological assessment on scenario analysis and modelling of biodiversity and ecosystem services. The First Authors Meeting for the assessment convened on 27-31 October 2014 in Egmond aan Zee, the Netherlands.

IPBES TASK FORCE ON CAPACITY BUILDING: The Task Force on Capacity Building held two meetings in Trondheim, Norway from 21-23 May 2014 and São Paulo, Brazil from 17-19 September 2014. Participants developed an action plan for developing proposals on four workstreams: identifying and prioritizing capacity-building needs; fellowship, exchange and training programmes; addressing priority capacity-building needs; and facilitating science-policy networks, platforms and centers of expertise.

IPBES TASK FORCE ON KNOWLEDGE AND DATA: This task force met in Seoul, Republic of Korea from 3-6 June 2014, to develop a draft data and information management plan to support the work of the IPBES. The task force also produced a draft knowledge and data strategy.

TASK FORCE ON INDIGENOUS AND LOCAL KNOWLEDGE (ILK) SYSTEMS: The first meeting of the task force took place in Paris, France, from 16-20 June 2014. Participants discussed the work of the task force and the deliverables under five streams of work, and agreed on an action plan.

JOINT REGIONAL SCOPING MEETING:  With a view to promoting integration across regions, a joint regional scoping meeting was held from 17-22 August 2014 at UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France. The meeting: developed options for a regional and subregional assessment structure and approach, based on social and ecological considerations; and developed the proposed scope of the assessments, including common generic issues across regions, as well as more specific issues for each region/subregion.

GLOBAL DIALOGUE WORKSHOP: This workshop on ILK of pollination and pollinators associated with food production convened in Panama City, Panama, from 1-5 December 2014. This event reinforced ILK in the IPBES assessment of pollination and pollinators associated with food production; and piloted preliminary approaches and procedures proposed by the ILK task force to build ILK into IPBES assessments.

This issue of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin © <> is written and edited by Beate Antonich, Kate Louw and Wangu Mwangi. The Digital Editor is Francis Dejon. The Editor is Pamela Chasek, Ph.D. <>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <>. The Sustaining Donors of the Bulletin are the European Commission (DG-ENV and DG-CLIMATE), the Government of Switzerland (the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) and the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC)), and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. General Support for the Bulletin during 2015 is provided by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, SWAN International, the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Japanese Ministry of Environment (through the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies - IGES), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Specific funding for coverage of this session has been provided by the Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Funding for translation of the Bulletin into French has been provided by the Government of France, the Wallonia, Québec, and the International Organization of La Francophonie/Institute for Sustainable Development of La Francophonie (IOF/IFDD). The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD or other donors. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in non-commercial publications with appropriate academic citation. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <>, +1-646-536-7556 or 320 E 46th St., APT 32A, New York, NY 10017-3037, USA. The ENB team at IPBES-3 can be contacted by e-mail at <>.

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