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Summary report, 12–17 January 2015

3rd Session of the IPBES Plenary

The third session of the Plenary of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES-3) met from 12-17 January 2015 in Bonn, Germany. Over 300 participants attended the meeting, representing IPBES member and non-member governments, UN agencies and convention secretariats, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, and various stakeholder groups.

Delegates adopted a number of decisions, including on: the work programme for 2014-2018; a stakeholder engagement strategy (SES); a communications and outreach strategy; the financial and budgetary arrangements; and rules of procedure for the Platform on, inter alia, the conflict of interest (COI) policy. Delegates did not reach agreement on procedures for the review of the Platform, and on policy and procedures for the admission of observers.

IPBES-3 concluded on Saturday evening with many feeling that solid progress had been made at the meeting. Members had addressed a number of issues under the platform, some of which took many hours of debate and collaboration, including on how to complete the work programme despite the limited resources available. This sets a good foundation for IPBES-4, where the first output of substance, the pollination and pollinators assessment, will be reviewed.


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 UNEP Executive Director and others to convene a meeting to consider establishing such an interface.

IPBES CONCEPT: Following the invitation to the UNEP Executive Director, 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 Executive Director 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.  


On Monday, 12 January 2015, IPBES Chair Abdul Hamid Zakri (Malaysia) opened IPBES-3, highlighting progress in achieving the work programme deliverables, and underscoring the 20 workshops held during the intersessional period.

Executive Secretary Anne Larigauderie welcomed delegates “recht herzlich.” Telling of a “very rich year of implementation of the first IPBES work programme,” she reported, inter alia, that: work on each of the 18 deliverables had been initiated; 14 expert groups were established; and IPBES’ new conceptual framework is proving to be a robust tool promoting coherence across deliverables.

Jacqueline McGlade, Chief Scientist, UNEP, speaking on behalf of UNEP, UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), said the UN agencies will continue to support IPBES through, among others: national reporting systems; inter-agency agreements; and interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches for data collection and management.

Barbara Hendricks, German Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, highlighted key issues to be addressed by IPBES, including biodiversity mainstreaming, sustainable use and communication.

Jürgen Nimptsch, Lord Mayor of Bonn, welcomed delegates to Bonn, noting IPBES’ “good fit” with the other international organizations headquartered in the city.

Malaysia, for the Asia-Pacific Group, supported further work on, inter alia: capacity building, the global assessment; and assessments in the thematic areas of pollination and pollinators, invasive alien species (IAS), and land degradation and restoration.

Mexico, for the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC), stressed that the assessments of sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity in land, soil and plant use and IAS should be addressed in the same manner as that of pollination and pollinators. He welcomed progress by the indigenous and local knowledge (ILK) task force highlighting this as a key issue for GRULAC.

Latvia, for the European Union (EU) Member States that are members of the Platform, called for adopting “pending items” from IPBES-2, including the rules of procedure, the COI policy and the SES.

South Africa, for the African Group, supported holding joint meetings of task forces to allow for addressing crosscutting issues in an effective and efficient manner and called for “a pragmatic approach in the provisions for operational structures.”

Bosnia and Herzegovina, for Eastern Europe, explained her region’s biological, economic, historical and cultural diversity and noted that the region’s underrepresentation in the expert groups indicates the need for improvements in capacity, regional cooperation, and better linkages between scientific and government bodies.

The CBD said the Convention’s Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) will explore ways of incorporating the outcomes of IPBES assessments in order to boost synergies. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) welcomed exploring further collaboration with IPBES on the thematic assessment on sustainable use.

The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) underscored the CMS assessment of economic benefits of migratory species as a possible area of synergy.

The Society for Conservation Biology, representing Stakeholders, highlighted the outcomes of the Stakeholder Days held immediately prior to IPBES-3. She urged IPBES-3 to prioritize discussion on adoption of the revised draft stakeholder engagement strategy.

The following summary is organized according to the meeting’s agenda. Unless otherwise stated, draft decisions were approved by the contact groups and final decisions were adopted in plenary on Saturday, 17 January 2015.


On Monday morning, Chair Zakri noted that the rules of procedure governing IPBES-3 will be those adopted at IPBES-1 and amended at IPBES-2. He then introduced the agenda and organization of work (IPBES/3/1 and Add.1), suggesting that a briefing from Rajendra Pachauri, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Chair, on the latest IPCC reports be heard on Tuesday morning, to which delegates agreed. He also suggested tabling a non-paper containing proposed draft decisions.

France, with Russia, expressed concern regarding the scheduling of evening sessions for working groups since no interpretation would be available. Russia also queried if this was an efficient use of time. Executive Secretary Larigauderie noted that interpretation has not previously been provided for working groups. Chair Zakri said that scheduling night sessions is a norm for IPBES. Russia underscored that IPBES is being operationalized and it is therefore essential to ensure that its scheduling is in line with principles adopted by other international organizations and multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs). France agreed to provisionally accept the agenda and organization of work provided that the Bureau discusses the matter and reverts to the Plenary with a proposal on how to address this issue going forward. The US said that the document of draft decisions should remain a non-paper at this juncture.

The agenda and organization of work were adopted as amended.

On the membership of the Platform, Chair Zakri stated that as of 12 January 2015, the Platform had 123 member states. On the admission of observers to IPBES-3, Chair Zakri said that the observers admitted to IPBES-2 will automatically be admitted to IPBES-3. He said that there are 67 new observers to be admitted to the Plenary. Israel opposed reference to Palestine as the State of Palestine in the list of observers. He requested this objection be included in the meeting report.


On Monday morning, Chair Zakri stated that the credentials submitted will be examined by the Bureau and will report back to the Plenary later in the week. On Thursday afternoon, Masa Nagai, UNEP Legal Officer, presented the draft credentials report. Saudi Arabia said that it had submitted its credentials to the Secretariat.

On Friday morning, Nagai stated that 85 members had submitted their credentials, which had been inspected and accepted. He said that the members who had not submitted their credentials would be considered observers at IPBES-3.


This report (IPBES/3/2) was addressed in plenary on Monday morning. Discussions addressed the options for a revised work programme, due to the heavy workload of Secretariat staff and technical experts as well as the funding gap. Delegates also offered support for work programme implementation and stated their priorities for the regional and thematic assessments.

Bolivia, Turkey, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Guatemala, Israel and Argentina expressed support for option one (implementation of the current work programme with minor adjustments). The EU IPBES members expressed willingness to consider option two (workload spread over a longer time period). Indonesia favored option three (reduced workload, more integration). The African Group, with Japan, Switzerland, Malaysia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, called for adopting option four (lowest workload, highest integration). Australia urged considering how to adequately “resource” IPBES in an increasingly resource-constrained environment. The African Group expressed flexibility to modify option four to address concerns. Pakistan favored integrating options three and four.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) proposed a “fifth option,” which draws on strategic partnerships, noting this would also help redress the current focus on assessments by increasing capacity to tackle the remaining three IPBES functions. He reiterated IUCN’s offer to contribute half-time staff positions for thematic assessments and provide office space across the different regions.

Both China and Ethiopia offered to host technical support units (TSUs) and provide, among others, technical and financial support.

Israel questioned why none of the nominated Israeli experts were included in the MEP.

Norway, supported by the US, New Zealand and Canada, called for delaying the planned open oceans assessment to await the outcome of the first integrated global marine assessment or the “World Ocean Assessment.” The US favored prioritizing thematic assessments. Mexico called for equal priority to all three thematic assessments. The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) underscored the strong “political and policy demand” for a global, standalone assessment on land degradation and restoration.

It was agreed that further discussion would take place in the contact group on the work programme, under the relevant agenda items there.


TASK FORCES ON CAPACITY-BUILDING, KNOWLEDGE AND DATA, AND INDIGENOUS AND LOCAL KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS: Capacity-Building Task Force: This item (IPBES/3/3, Annex I and Annex II and IPBES3/INF/1) was introduced by the Secretariat during plenary on Monday, and subsequently considered in a small drafting group under the contact group on the work programme co-chaired by Ivar Baste (Norway) and Alfred Oteng-Yeboah (Ghana) on Wednesday.

Discussions focused on priority capacity-building needs and a fellowship, exchange and training programme proposed by the task force.

During discussions, many delegations welcomed the work undertaken by the capacity-building task force and endorsed the proposed priority actions, cautioning against raising unrealistic expectations on Platform deliverables. The African Group called for regular evaluation of the proposed fellowship programme to ensure its relevance to capacity-building needs, and Botswana called for explicit efforts to build capacity for women, young scientists and policy-makers. The Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) highlighted opportunities provided through the GBIF network, notably the launch of a new European Commission initiative led by GBIF providing €3.9 million over five years, to be launched in March 2015.

On Saturday morning, Co-Chair Baste reported that the group agreed on a key set of capacity-building needs for the platform and on guidance for work on capacity building.

Final Outcome: In its decision (IPBES/3/L.4), the Plenary, inter alia:

•  welcomes the establishment of a task force on capacity-building for the period 2014-2018;

•  approves the list of priority capacity-building needs of the Platform set out in the annex;

•  notes the draft programme on fellowship, exchange and training, and requests that the task force on capacity-building and its TSUs complete the pilot implementation of the draft programme, report on progress, and make recommendations for the further development and implementation of the programme to IPBES-4; and

•  notes the preliminary plans for convening, in 2015, the first capacity-building forum of the Platform with representatives of conventional and potential sources of funding, and requests the Bureau to convene the forum during the second half of 2015 on the basis of a call for expressions of interest, and requests a report on the outcome of the forum to IPBES-4.

The annexed list of priority capacity-building needs defines criteria for priority capacity-building; summarizes and categorizes capacity-building needs identified by members and other stakeholders; and suggests potential sources of support for addressing these needs. It also proposes initial priority needs together with the most appropriate approach for identifying sources of support.

Task Force on Knowledge and Data and Indigenous and Local Knowledge Systems: This item (IPBES/3/4, IPBES/3/INF/2 and INF/3) was introduced on Monday and subsequently considered throughout the week in the contact group on the work programme.

During plenary discussions, Colombia called for clarity on how local communities and indigenous peoples will participate in decision-making. Speaking on behalf of GRULAC, she suggested building bridges between science and policy “in a balanced manner.” The African Group emphasized that making data only available “online” does not ensure accessibility for all member states. He requested clarification on the definition of “open science” and its implications for intellectual property rights and for ensuring that ILK is not exploited. Indonesia and Malaysia called for recognizing the rights of knowledge holders, including respecting the principle of prior informed consent.

The US suggested, inter alia, creating an information portal and, with the UK, clarifying the specific roles of the task forces and TSUs. Bolivia emphasized the need for a participatory mechanism that facilitates and strengthens indigenous peoples’ participation in all functions of the Platform. New Zealand underlined the need for: data standards to ensure comparability; and considering data collection, tools and management as separate activities.

GBIF welcomed the data management plan as “practical” and emphasized the importance of productive relations with strategic partners. The Group on Earth Observations’ Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON) reported on developing a framework for biodiversity data. The International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IIFBES) underscored the need for a participatory mechanism for the effective participation of indigenous peoples and local communities, stressing that the use of ILK requires specific considerations.

On Friday, Luthando Dziba, Knowledge and Data Task Force Member, South Africa, provided an overview of revisions relating to the draft data and information management plan. Members agreed to most of the revised text, with some adjustments, but could not reach consensus on text calling for the application of prior informed consent principles to information derived from ILK holders.

On Saturday, members agreed to the need to respect information provided by and the knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities, which includes, as appropriate, consideration for seeking prior informed consent or approval and involvement of indigenous peoples and local communities, who are holders of such information, and knowledge and sharing of benefits accrued from such information and knowledge.

Final Outcome: In its decision (IPBES/3/L.4), the Plenary, inter alia:

•  welcomes the establishment of a task force on ILK systems;

•  notes the progress made on developing, for the consideration by IPBES, draft procedures and approaches for working with ILK;

•  decides to continue piloting preliminary ILK approaches and procedures in four regions (Americas, Africa, Asia-Pacific, and Europe and Central Asia) focusing on sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity, depending on available resources;

•  notes the progress made on establishing a roster of experts and a participatory mechanism for working with ILK systems;

•  approves the data and information management plan set out in the annex;

•  requests the Secretariat to submit to the Plenary for information data and information management plans for each ongoing assessment, and to develop data and information management plans in the context of any scoping process/report; and

•  notes progress made by the task force on knowledge and data in the development of a knowledge and data strategy, and requests that information about the strategy be submitted to IPBES-4.

The annexed data and information management plan contains four sections on: context; objectives; principles for managing knowledge, information and data in the Platform; and implementing the data and information management plan. On implementation, the plan provides a table identifying six high-priority activities as proposed for the implementation of the data and information management plan in 2015. It also contains a detailed description of the activities, which include: developing data and metadata guidelines; providing methodological principles for handling knowledge gaps and uncertainty; developing a proposal for a discovery and access mechanism for sustainable knowledge, information, and data; providing ready access to primary research literature for all Platform experts; establishing agreements with key strategic partners; and revising the data and information management plan based on developments in 2015.

GUIDES ON ASSESSMENTS, POLICY SUPPORT TOOLS AND METHODOLOGIES, AND PRELIMINARY GUIDES ON SCENARIO ANALYSIS AND MODELLING AND THE CONCEPTUALIZATION OF VALUES: This was taken up in plenary on Tuesday morning and further discussed in the contact group on the work programme. The Secretariat introduced documents IPBES/3/INF/4, IPBES/3/INF/7, and IPBES/3/INF/8. The discussion addressed the usefulness and “practicability” of the guides, as well as possible improvements for the further development of the guides.

Several delegations supported the draft catalogue on policy support tools and methodologies generally, but suggested improvements. Mexico, Colombia, Bolivia, Brazil, Russia, France and Turkey stressed the need to broaden the scope of methodologies as well as policy tools and instruments. Brazil emphasized the value of communities of practice and sharing success stories. The UK noted the definition of policy tools as “very broad” and suggested the catalogue focus more on tools relevant to IPBES work.

Several delegations supported extending the mandate of the expert group on policy support tools and methodologies. The US inquired about the next steps of the expert group and whether to narrow its focus. This item was forwarded to the contact group on the work programme.

Final Outcome: In its decision (IPBES/3/L.4), on the catalogue of assessments, the Plenary takes note of the report and requests the Executive Secretary to:

•  continue maintaining the online catalogue of assessments;

• further collaborate with existing networks and initiatives to enhance the online catalogue; and

•  undertake another review of the assessment landscape and lessons learned in time to inform the review of the Platform.

On the catalogue of policy tools and methodologies, the Plenary:

•  notes the development of a proposed catalogue of policy support tools and methodologies and the guidance for its use, as well as the development of preliminary guidance on how the further development of such tools and methodologies could be promoted and catalyzed;

•  requests the Executive Secretary to submit the draft proposed catalogue and the preliminary guidance on policy support tools and methodologies for review by members, observers and stakeholders and to undertake work to establish the catalogue;

•  requests the MEP and the Bureau to further develop guidance on how policy support tools and methodologies could be promoted and catalyzed for consideration at IPBES-4; and

•  approves continuing the expert group to support the review and complete its current work on the catalogue and preliminary guide.

SCOPING DOCUMENTS FOR REGIONAL ASSESSMENTS, LAND DEGRADATION AND RESTORATION, AND THE CONCEPTUALIZATION OF VALUES: Regional Assessments: On Tuesday the Secretariat introduced this item in plenary (IPBES/3/6, Add.1, Add.2–6 and INF/17). The initial scoping report for a global assessment (IPBES/3/9) was also presented. The contact group met from Wednesday through Friday to discuss this issue, including joint sessions with the budget contact group on Thursday and Friday. On Wednesday morning, during a contact group session, the MEP presented possible options for coupling thematic, regional and global assessments, and discussed a timeline of “anticipated” actions to be taken by the IPBES.

Deliberations focused on, among others: regional priorities; drivers of biodiversity loss; scales of assessments; the importance of wetlands; the need to address marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdictions; inclusion of local and indigenous peoples’ views and knowledge; and addressing global issues. Delegates also exchanged ideas on, inter alia: establishing an expert team focusing on conceptual coherence; and considering efficiency gains of joint meetings to allow the Secretariat’s capacity to focus on “steering the process.”

Several speakers noted the global assessments “cannot simply be an amalgamation of regional assessments,” with one calling for the regional assessments’ co-chairs to be included in the global assessment, and for the relevant representatives from the global assessment to be involved in the regional assessments’ final stages. Some delegates expressed preference for independent, standalone thematic assessments over their integration into regional assessments. Another called for “less simplistic” consideration of ILK integration into the work programme.

Delegates further considered revisions made by the MEP on the coupling of the thematic, regional and global assessments, proposing revisions to the introductory sections and chapter outline of the scoping report, including: mentioning that the summary document should be disseminated to a broader audience; listing examples of partners that can mobilize knowledge and data; and distinguishing between the CITES list of endangered species and those linked to the functioning of ecosystems.

During a joint session with the budget contact group on Thursday morning, Paul Leadley, MEP Member, introduced a revised timeline. He noted that some assessments will undergo rapid scoping exercises. He also highlighted two global meetings, a coordination meeting at the beginning and a synthesis meeting towards the end of the assessment period, saying that these meetings contribute to ensuring common definitions and methodologies between the assessments. He further stated that, inter alia, a mechanism needs to be put in place to ensure that global aspects are properly accounted for and specific wording on rapid scoping must be put in place. Some participants queried the definition of rapid scoping. Others called for clarifying the involvement of experts on values and ILK to ensure conceptual coherence and consistency on these issues.

Presenting the updated timetable for conducting thematic and regional assessments in plenary on Friday afternoon, Leadley noted the revised workplan builds on lessons learned and concerns raised by members and, among others: ensures a coherent methodological approach and respects the scoping procedure that was laid out in Antalya; avoids a heavy workload for the Secretariat and experts in 2015; maintains momentum on the fast-track assessments; and facilitates an iterative learning process among the different assessments. He further noted the proposed timetable adds one year to the original work programme and will ensure completion of all the deliverables agreed at IPBES-2, including completion of the global assessment in time to feed into the review of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Leadley then presented a note from the Bureau on the proposed coupling approach that will be submitted to the Plenary for approval.

Many members welcomed the proposed timetable, but raised issues regarding, inter alia: ensuring a competitive process for identifying experts; enhancing the quality of the two remaining scoping documents; and managing the heavy workload at IPBES-6. Several members also emphasized the need to launch pilot ILK approaches and procedures in the four regions in 2015, to ensure local information is incorporated in the assessments.

Regional Contact Groups:The four regional contact groups met on Thursday afternoon to finalize their respective scoping documents.

Africa: The contact group, co-chaired by Alfred Oteng-Yeboah (Ghana) and Fundisile Mketeni (South Africa), completed two readings of the scoping document (IPBES/3/6/Add.2). Explaining the drafting process, the Secretariat noted that a longer background document was prepared at the regional scoping meeting held in August 2014 in Paris, France (the Paris Workshop) and will be made available to the assessment experts.

Discussing the scope of the assessment, members agreed to include “climate-related risks such as desertification and silting.” Following a debate on geographic boundaries, the group agreed to include territories, in addition to countries, with an explanatory footnote. On the rationale, members added a reference to governance and adapted language on the impacts of socio-economic drivers.

On the operational structure, members highlighted the need to link regional and subregional TSUs and agreed to request the MEP to undertake a mapping of institutions that can host the TSUs. On communication and outreach, the group listed some “traditional” communication tools to be used in disseminating the findings and removed a reference to partnerships with specific institutions, such as SciDev.Net.

Americas: The regional contact group on the Americas was co-chaired by MEP members Ann Bartuska and Carlos Alfredo Joly and Bureau Vice-Chair Leonel Sierralta (Chile). The group completed a first reading of the scoping document (IPBES/3/6/Add.3), presenting suggestions for clarifications and substantive revisions on the operational paragraphs. On scope, several participants called for highlighting positive issues and the role of indigenous peoples in conservation. On the geographic boundary of the assessment, participants discussed the breakdown of regions, and Co-Chair Joly noted this had also been extensively discussed at the Paris Workshop. A few participants suggested deleting the paragraph on utility. On key datasets, strategic partnerships and initiatives, and communications and outreach, participants suggested additions to the institutions listed.

Asia-Pacific: The regional contact group was co-chaired by Jay Ram Adhikari (Nepal) and Abdul Hamid Zakri (Malaysia). Mark Lonsdale, MEP member, facilitated the discussion. On assumptions, delegates discussed inclusion of data gaps and a transparent review process. In considering the scoping document for the Asia-Pacific (IPBES/3/6/Add.4), delegates agreed to suggestions from the floor, including: on key data, ILK inclusion, data aggregation and data sets; on the scope, referencing poverty, addressing poor waste management and specifying consequences of climate change; on rationale, addressing diversity of ILK and including issues common and specific to small island nations; and, mentioning some strategic partnerships and initiatives as well as that the capacity-building task force will highlight priority issues at the subregional level. On rationale, one party opposed reference to “biodiversity outside of protected areas.” Another emphasized that in several countries, biodiversity and ecosystems to be assessed lie in “productive” rather than “protected” areas.

Europe and Central Asia: The European and Central Asian regional contact group was co-chaired by Senka Barudanovic (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Robert Watson (UK) and Ivar Baste (Norway). In considering the scoping document for Europe and Central Asia (IPBES/3/6/Add.5), under rationale, some countries urged listing specific ecosystems as examples of vulnerable ecosystems. Others suggested ensuring reference to coastal and marine systems, with delegates agreeing to include this under the geographic boundaries section. Under utility, delegates agreed to remove references to specific regional agreements and include them in an annex. On chapter outlines some emphasized the need to ensure that elements of generic scoping are not potentially ignored or “downgraded.” 

Under key datasets, some called for deletion of references to data variability between the subregions as well as a lack of availability and reliability in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. One delegate questioned the veracity of the statement. Others countered saying that there is an issue with data variability between the regions. Delegates agreed to reference that there is a lack of data availability and reliability in some Eastern European or Central Asian countries.

Final Outcome: In Section II of the final decision (IPBES/3/L.4) on global, regional and subregional assessments, the Platform notes the development of a draft guide for the production and integration of assessments from and across all levels, and requests that the guide be completed with a view to its becoming a living document.

Members further:

•  approve undertaking regional and subregional assessments in accordance with the procedures for the preparation of the Platform’s deliverables, for consideration by IPBES-6;

•  agree to consider the option of undertaking a regional assessment on the open ocean at IPBES-4;

•  approve a scoping process for a global assessment on biodiversity and ecosystem services, for consideration by IPBES-4, which will largely but not exclusively rely on compiling and synthesizing current data, knowledge and information from thematic, regional and methodological assessments; and

•  request the MEP, in consultation with the Bureau, to develop a coordinated approach among the approved processes for the regional/subregional assessments, the thematic assessments and a global assessment, as resources permit, with a view to ensuring consistency while maintaining the quality of each of the assessments.

Land Degradation and Restoration: The Secretariat introduced documents IPBES/3/7 and IPBES/3/INF/7 in plenary on Tuesday morning. Further discussions took place in the contact group. During initial discussions in plenary, the US described the document as “generally balanced” but called for clarity on the range of ecosystems to be studied. France suggested focusing on ecosystems that are most degraded or vulnerable to land use changes. Colombia and Bolivia called for a balanced approach taking into account all ecosystems. Welcoming the document, the African Group, supported by Turkey, called for removing references to “western science.” Algeria stressed the urgency of the assessment and proposed prioritizing the most vulnerable ecosystems. Brazil called for attention to indirect drivers of land degradation as well as the economic benefits of restoring degraded land. Nepal recommended including a compilation of success stories. The UNCCD Secretariat highlighted the Convention’s contribution to the scoping report, saying that the Convention will be “one of the key clients and users of this assessment,” and underscoring the need for effective collaboration to meet the needs of its stakeholders.

During contact group discussions, on the scope of the assessment, one member suggested specifying that the full range of productive landscapes will be covered. A proposal for a separate chapter highlighting benefits from actions addressing land degradation received broad support. Members suggested that the chapter also highlight benefits in terms of improved land productivity, enhanced rural livelihoods and adaptive capacity, and emphasize the costs of inaction as well as impacts of choices made at the landscape level. Many members also emphasized taking a balanced approach across all chapters, with some noting the value of setting a “precedent” that would require future assessments to include both negative and positive impacts. Delegates’ views diverged on the usefulness of specifying “participatory, regulatory and economic instruments,” among types of policy instruments used. One member emphasized the importance of providing policy guidance on managing tradeoffs between development and sustainability imperatives.

On key information to be assessed, it was suggested to add regional assessments, as well as statistical data, as sources. On strategic partnerships and initiatives, members highlighted the need for partnerships at regional and subregional levels, including data holders from mining and “other driver sectors.” On communications and outreach, members called for ensuring consistency with the communication and outreach strategy. They similarly called for including a link to the related task force for the capacity-building chapter.

With regard to the operational paragraphs of the draft decision, there were divergent opinions on the timetable, with some members calling for bracketing of references to launching or reviewing the assessment at specific future IPBES sessions. Others expressed concern about launching a fast-track assessment, and emphasized maintaining oversight by the Plenary.

Final Outcome: In its decision (IPBES/3/L.4), the Plenary approves the proposed assessment approach and structure of the final assessment report as set out in the annex, “scoping for a thematic assessment of land degradation and restoration.” In an introductory section of the chapter outline, it is stated that the assessment will be presented in a summary for policymakers and an eight-chapter report. The chapter outline is set out as follows:

•  benefits to people from avoidance of land degradation and restoration of degraded land;

•  concepts and perceptions of land degradation and restoration;

•  direct and indirect drivers of land degradation and restoration;

•  status and trends of land degradation and restoration and associated changes in biodiversity and ecosystem functions;

•  land degradation and restoration associated with changes in ecosystem services and functions, and human well-being and good quality of life;

•  responses to avoid land degradation and restore degraded land;

•  scenarios of land degradation and restoration; and

•  decision support to address land degradation and support restoration of degraded land.

The scoping report further notes that an executive summary will present key findings and policy-relevant conclusions. The annex also contains the proposed operational structure; process and timetable; and cost estimate.

Conceptualization of Values: This item (IPBES/3/8 and IPBES/3/INF/18) was introduced in plenary on Tuesday morning. During discussions in plenary, Colombia proposed adding national accounting as a technical specialty and referring to policy experts, rather than policy makers. Turkey called for distinguishing between “measurable and non-measurable values,” to ensure scientific “rigor.” Chile suggested including an additional chapter on ecosystem accounting, building on a pilot being undertaken by the UN Statistical Office. The US called for a limited scope for the assessment and, with the UK, building on the preliminary guide regarding conceptualization of multiple values on nature and its benefits. Australia called for a stronger “value proposition” for such an assessment.

Brazil welcomed the “fresh perspective” in the report and called for linkages with The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) and Wealth Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES) initiatives. Emphasizing that previous Plenary sessions have focused on economic values, Bolivia said including a chapter on national accounting would “upset the balance,” and favored adopting the document without revisions. IIFBES cautioned that a focus on economics could “crowd out” endogenous values, ultimately undermining the goals of IPBES’ work programme.

Final Outcome:  In its final decision (IPBES/3/L.4), the Plenary, inter alia:

•  approves, until IPBES-4, the continuation of the expert group established for the development of the preliminary guide on the conceptualization of values of biodiversity and nature’s benefits to people, which, at the discretion of the Chair, following consultations with the Bureau, could be expanded with a limited number of resource persons, and possible representatives of strategic partners as resources permit; and

•  requests the group to revise, following an open review by governments and stakeholders, the report on scoping for the methodological assessment regarding diverse conceptualization of multiple values of nature and its benefits, including biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services.


BUDGET AND EXPENDITURE FOR 2014-2018 AND THE TRUST FUND: This item was presented by Executive Secretary Larigauderie during Tuesday morning’s plenary (IPBES/3/10 and IPBES/3/2/Add.1). She outlined: the status of cash and in-kind contributions to the trust fund; expenditures for 2013-2014; a proposed revised budget for 2015; a proposed budget for 2016-2017; and a revised indicative budget for 2018. Summarizing the overall budget situation at the beginning of 2015, she noted there is a budget shortfall of US$19.5 million for implementing the full work programme.

Many delegations lamented that the report lacked the detailed information necessary for approving a revised budget. The US expressed his delegation’s commitment to finding a viable roadmap to accomplish the work programme and, with France and Switzerland, asked for clarification on in-kind support provided by MEA secretariats and international programmes. The African Group called for all outstanding pledges to be honored. Colombia said their pledges and in-kind contributions had not been included in the report.

The Secretariat introduced IPBES/3/2/Add.1/Rev.1, which seeks approval to formally apply for IPBES’ accreditation to the list of international organizations eligible for official development assistance (ODA) as determined by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee (OECD DAC). He noted the document further requests clarification from the Plenary on participants’ eligibility for financial support.

Norway and Colombia supported the IPBES application and, with the US, Canada and Japan, favored following OECD-DAC criteria on ODA eligibility. Belarus, supported by Georgia, Turkey and Russia, called for continued financial support to countries in transition to ensure effective representation from the Eastern European region.

Several delegations announced pledges to support IPBES activities in 2015, including: US$100,000 from Malaysia; US$176,000 from Sweden; and US$300,000 from Japan. Ethiopia offered in-kind and logistical support for subregional assessments as well as limited financial support, including through hosting the African TSU. Chair Zakri established a budget contact group, co-chaired by Leonel Sierralta (Chile) and Jay Ram Adhikari (Nepal).

The contact group met from Tuesday through Friday. Delegates reviewed documents on: the status of cash and in-kind contributions to the Platform in 2014; a non-paper providing budget information per deliverable for option one of the IPBES work programme for 2015-18; and a Bureau non-paper on financial procedures and rules. They also heard presentations on, inter alia, staff issues and ODA issues.

With regard to 2014 expenditures, members requested clarification on, among others: country contributions not reflected; costs of hosting IPBES-3; and total savings accrued during the year. On the proposed revised budget for 2015, members queried, inter alia, projected travel costs and the rationale for new staff recruitments. Responding to the issues raised, the Secretariat highlighted: the high cost of the interim hosting arrangements; the heavy workload; and the difficulty of building a new institutional structure without dedicated core staff. Due to ongoing discussions on the work programme, the proposed budget for the work programme was unable to be finalized until Friday afternoon.

Final Outcome: In its decision (IPBES/3/L.7/Rev.1), the Plenary:

•  welcomes the cash and in-kind contributions received since 2012;

•  notes the status of the cash and in-kind contributions set out in an annex to the decision;

•  notes the pledges for the period beyond 2014;

notes the status of expenditures and levels of savings incurred during the biennium 2013-2014 set out in an annex to the decision;

•  invites pledges and contributions to the Platform’s trust fund as well as in-kind contributions to support the Platform’s work;

•  requests the Executive Secretary to report to the fourth plenary session on expenditures for the biennium 2014-2015;

•  adopts the revised budget for 2015 amounting to US$9,506,304 as set out in an annex to the decision;

•  takes note of the proposed budget for the biennium 2016-2017, amounting to US$9,995,346 in 2016 and US$8,506,566 in 2017, noting that it will require further revision prior to its adoption;

•  requests the Executive Secretary to provide to the fourth Plenary session a report on the established practices of multilateral environmental organizations, the IPCC and other relevant fora on funding experts and meeting participants to facilitate the adoption a decision on the eligibility criteria to be used;

•  approves the amendment to the Financial Rules and Procedures through the addition of rules 5, 6 and 7 as set out in an annex to the present decision; and

•  authorizes the Executive Secretary, subject to the availability of funds, to engage the resources of the Platform to organize the fourth session of the Plenary meeting in early 2016.

TECHNICAL SUPPORT UNITS: During Tuesday morning’s plenary, the Secretariat reported on the institutional arrangements to operationalize technical support for implementing the work programme (IPBES/3/INF/13), noting this is for information only. The Plenary took note of the report.


NOMINATION AND SELECTION OF MEMBERS OF THE MULTIDISCIPLINARY EXPERT PANEL: This item (IPBES/3/11 and IPBES/3/INF15-16) was introduced on Tuesday and consequently considered in intraregional and interregional consultations throughout the week. In Friday’s plenary, delegates nominated and elected the candidates by region.

For Africa, delegates elected: Moustafa Mokhtar Ali Fouda (Egypt); Sebsebe Demissew (Ethiopia); Jean Bruno Mikissa (Gabon); Voahangy Raharimalala (Madagascar); and Charlotte Karibuhoye (Senegal).

For the Asia-Pacific, delegates elected: Yi Huang (China); Vinod Mathur (India); Rosichon Ubaidillah (Indonesia); Yoshihisa Shirayama (Japan); and Leng Guan Saw (Malaysia).

For Eastern Europe, delegates elected: Ruslan Novitsky (Belarus); Maja Vasilijević (Croatia); Tamar Pataridze (Georgia); György Pataki (Hungary); and Günay Erpul (Turkey).

For Latin America and the Caribbean, delegates elected: Sandra Díaz (Argentina); Carlos Alfredo Joly (Brazil); Brigitte Baptiste (Colombia); Rodrigo Medellín (México); and Floyd M. Homer (Trinidad and Tobago).

For Western European and Other States, delegates elected: Mark Lonsdale (Australia); Paul Leadley (France); Marie Roué (France); Unai Pascual (Spain); and Marie Stenseke (Sweden).

Bosnia and Herzegovina announced, and delegates approved, a change in the Bureau with Ioseb Kartsivadze (Georgia) excusing himself and being replaced by Adem Bilgin (Turkey).

PROCEDURES FOR THE PREPARATION OF PLATFORM DELIVERABLES: This item (IPBES/3/12) was introduced on Tuesday and consequently considered in a contact group on rules of procedure on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, co-chaired by Robert Watson (UK), Mark Lonsdale, MEP member, and Senka Barudanovic (Bosnia and Herzegovina).

Discussions focused on procedures to address possible errors and complaints, scoping, Platform workshops, schedule for deliverables under standard and fast-track approaches and procedures on the use of literature in Platform reports, open science and open data, and arching data sources.

Final Outcome: In its decision (IPBES/3/L.2), the Plenary adopts procedures for preparing the Platform’s deliverables, which contain sections on, inter alia:

•  definitions of governance structures, deliverables and clearance processes;

•  an overview of clearance processes for the Platform’s deliverables;

•  procedures for the preparation of the Platform’s deliverables, including standard and fast-track approaches for thematic or methodological assessments, approaches for regional, subregional or global assessments, scoping for Platform deliverables, and general procedures for preparing Platform reports;

•  preparation of reports, including compiling lists of potential and selection of report co-chairs, coordinating lead authors, lead authors, review editors and of government-designated national focal points, preparing of a draft report, and review;

•  acceptance of reports by the Plenary;

•  preparing and approving summaries for policymakers;

•  preparing, approving and adopting synthesis reports by the Plenary;

•  addressing possible errors;

•  clearance processes for technical papers;

•  Platform supporting material;

•  workshops; and 

•  nomination and selection process for task forces.

The procedures also include three annexes, namely: tasks and responsibilities for report co-chairs, coordinating lead authors, lead authors, contributing authors, review editors and expert reviewers of Platform reports and other deliverables, and for government-designated national focal points; one “to be developed” on a procedure for the use of grey literature in Platform reports; and a procedure for recognizing and incorporating ILK.

PROCEDURE FOR THE REVIEW OF THE PLATFORM: This item (IPBES/3/INF/11) was introduced on Tuesday in plenary and consequently briefly discussed in a contact group on rules of procedure. On Saturday morning, Co-Chair Watson reported back to Plenary that the contact group discussed the possibility of an interim evaluation and a long-term evaluation of IPBES.

Final Outcome: This item will be further considered at IPBES-4.

POLICY AND PROCEDURES FOR THE ADMISSION OF OBSERVERS: The draft policy and procedures for the admission of observers (IPBES/3/13) was introduced during plenary on Tuesday. China, supported by Argentina, advocated admitting observers based on consensus. Opposing, the EU IPBES members said refusal of admission of an observer should only be warranted if one-third of members object. The item was consequently discussed in the contact group on rules of procedure on Friday.

On Saturday morning, Co-Chair Watson reported in plenary that difficulties remained in the discussions of the draft policy. He said “strong views” and diverging positions by delegations have not changed since IPBES-2 and that based on the lack of flexibility the group proposes to continue at IPBES-4 the practice used for IPBES-2 and IPBES-3.

During the plenary on Saturday afternoon, when Rapporteur Senka Barudanovic presented the report of IPBES-3 to Plenary, Co-Chair Watson explained that the section on policy and procedures for the admission of observers will reflect the contact group’s proposal that the interim procedure as applied to IPBES-2 and IPBES-3 be applied to IPBES-4 and that IPBES-4 further consider the admission of observers.

China requested its position that the admission of observers should be made on the basis of consensus and criteria be reflected in the report of the meeting.

Final Outcome: This item will be further considered at IPBES-4.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST POLICY: The draft COI policy and procedures (IPBES/3/14) was introduced in plenary on Tuesday and subsequently discussed in a contact group on rules of procedure on Thursday and Friday.

Discussions focused on the rules for the implementation procedures, the possible deletion of Rule 6, which allows, in exceptional circumstances, tolerating a COI for an author making a unique contribution if it is determined that the conflict can be managed to avoid any adverse impacts on the Platform deliverable, and if the conflict is publicly disclosed. Discussions focused on how to balance the need to protect the privacy of experts who are disclosing this information. Delegates also agreed on the composition of the committee that in addition to implementing the agreed rules, also determine COI cases referred to it by the IPBES Bureau. On Saturday morning, Co-Chair Watson reported back to plenary that the group agreed on this “interesting and sensitive” agenda item. 

Final Outcome: In its decision (IPBES/3/L.6.), the Plenary adopts the COI policy and implementation procedures as set out in the decision’s annex. The COI policy contains: sections on purpose and scope of the policy and on definition of “conflict of interest” and “bias.” The appendix to the decision contains a confidential COI disclosure form. The implementation procedures contain a total of 10 rules on, inter alia:

•  a review process prior to and after appointment of Bureau members, MEP members, task force and expert group members as well as report co-chairs, coordinating and lead authors;

•  principles for considering COI issues;

•  processing and storage of information; and

•  a committee on COI.


COMMUNICATIONS AND OUTREACH AND STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT STRATEGIES: This item was taken up on Tuesday morning during plenary (IPBES/3/15, 16, INF/9 and INF/10). Discussions on the communications and outreach strategy addressed, among others, strategy output and relevance.

Belgium sought clarification on the target audience, outreach activities and the evaluation process. France suggested an outreach policy to reach relevant stakeholders. India stressed that communication should be policy relevant and not policy prescriptive

Discussions on the SES focused on the oversight mechanism for stakeholder engagement, and whether it should be managed by the Secretariat (option one) or an inclusive, open-ended forum (option two). France, Republic of Korea and Gabon preferred an inclusive, open-ended forum. The US favored the Secretariat managing stakeholder engagement.

A contact group, co-chaired by Leonel Sierralta (Chile) and Fundisile Mketeni (South Africa), met from Wednesday through Friday.

While participants generally agreed on the communication and outreach strategy, there was some discussion regarding the creation of training programmes for enabling the use of outputs of the Platform. Some expressed concern on the availability of resources for such a task. Other suggested, and delegates agreed, to refer to “capacity building” as opposed to “training programmes.”

On the SES, participants addressed issues including options for managing and implementing the strategy. Budgetary concerns were discussed, with most favoring option two. Delegates further considered the issue of identification of stakeholders. Discussion also took place to address concerns regarding the implementation of the SES and the Platform’s role.

A compromise text that included elements from option one and option two was proposed. A few members expressed concern regarding the proposed text, which calls for the Secretariat, under the supervision of the Bureau and the Plenary, and working in collaboration with an inclusive, open-ended forum of stakeholders, to implement and operationalize the SES. They said that the proposed wording may imply a “formal input” into the open-ended forum from the Secretariat. Others queried the legal status of the forum. Some delegates said they were unable to accept compromise text. They were also unable to accept deleting references to eligibility criteria. Delegates agreed to form a small group to resolve the issue.

The small group introduced new text that emphasized, among others: the self-organization of the forum; that the Platform and the forum will work in partnership with each other; the Secretariat’s role through implementing and operationalizing the strategy; and collaboration between the Platform and the forum will be guided by the strategy.

Some expressed concern that eligibility criteria had not been addressed. One delegate suggested that the definition of stakeholders be revised as the definition incorrectly included governments. Delegates proposed limiting the definition to types of contributors and end-users.

Following a statement by one delegate saying that the text still could not be accepted, on the basis that the strategy should have been focused on, as opposed to the oversight mechanism, and suggesting that the issue be addressed at IPBES-4, delegates agreed to further consider the issue in a small group.

New text proposed by the small group agreed to refer to the forum as a “network,” which was accepted. Some expressed concern that the issue of eligibility criteria for stakeholder engagement had still not been addressed. Following discussions, delegates proposed and accepted text stating that it “encourages all stakeholders representing, inter alia, their regional, disciplinary and knowledge system diversity to collaborate with the Platform.”

Final Outcomes: In its decision (IPBES/3/L.5), the Plenary welcomes the communication and outreach strategy set out in the annex and requests the Secretariat, subject to the availability of funds, to undertake the activities described in the initial implementation plan set out in the appendix to the annex, as appropriate.

In its decision on the SES (IPBES/3/L.15), the Plenary:

•  welcomes the revised draft SES set out in the annex;

•  requests the Secretariat to undertake the activities, as appropriate, set out in the initial implementation plan set out in the appendix to the annex; and

•  encourages all stakeholders representing, inter alia, their regional, disciplinary and knowledge systems in their diversity, to collaborate with the Platform.

GUIDANCE ON STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS: This item was first addressed during Wednesday morning’s plenary (IPBES/3/17). The US said that most activities in the work programme could be performed without formal partnerships and called for considering specific mandates of any partners. Chair Zakri noted that the draft guidance will be revised.

Final Outcome: In its decision (IPBES/3/L.8), the Plenary:

•  approvesthe guidance on the development of strategic partnerships and other collaborative arrangements set out in the annex to the decision;

•  invites the Secretariats of the biodiversity and ecosystem services MEAs, as appropriate, to work with the Bureau to develop strategic partnerships, modeled on the existing strategic partnership arrangement with the CBD Secretariat, setting out areas for collaboration and cooperation, to be approved by the Plenary at a future session; and

•  decides to review steps that have been taken to develop and enter into strategic partnerships and other collaborative arrangements at its fourth session.


The Secretariat introduced IPBES/3/INF/14 during Wednesday morning’s plenary. Salvatore Aricò, UNESCO, speaking on behalf of UNEP, FAO, UNESCO and UNDP—the four agencies involved in the UN collaborative partnership arrangements for the Platform—noted that the institutional arrangements have been approved and the agreement is ready to “be fully operationalized.” He noted several IPBES-relevant initiatives underway, including UNEP’s Live Knowledge Platform and UNESCO’s Future Earth Initiative as well as activities, such as: FAO’s hosting of the Global Soil Partnership Secretariat and facilitating the implementation of its actions; UNDP’s contribution to the formalization of BES-Net; and the incorporation of IPBES-relevant decisions in preparation for UNEP’s Global Environment Outlook and the CBD’s upcoming Global Biodiversity Outlook.

Japan highlighted its support of scenario-building work with UNESCO and looked forward to increased synergies with relevant MEAs.

The Plenary took note of the report.


BRIEFING FROM THE IPCC CHAIR: Delegates heard a briefing from IPCC Chair Rajendra Pachauri on Tuesday morning. He commented “the IPCC might have inspired the IPBES, but the new generation is often a few steps ahead of the previous one.” He suggested that the IPCC and IPBES Bureaus meet periodically to explore matters of substance in their respective assessments. Pachauri then shared his experience leading the IPCC and presented, inter alia: work undertaken by IPCC’s working groups; key findings from IPCC reports; observed changes and projected risks posed by climate change for biodiversity and food security; and possible adaptation and mitigation measures.

Responding to questions from the floor, Pachauri said he is “cautiously optimistic” that growing global awareness and political commitment will lead to a “snowballing of action” to address climate change. He highlighted the five-fold increase in India’s solar energy targets as an example of the growing awareness of the co-benefits of taking mitigation actions.


On Saturday morning, Chair Zakri suggested that the Plenary, in collaboration with the Bureau, draft a provisional agenda for IPBES-4. He suggested that the Bureau deliberate on the dates and times of the next venue, to be announced at a later stage.


On Saturday afternoon and evening, delegates met in plenary to consider draft decisions.

Several delegates made statements offering in-kind support. The UK offered support for the pollination assessment. Portugal offered to support two full-time staff positions for the oceans assessment in 2015-16. Colombia stated it will host two “permanent work stations” for the regional assessment and provide technical support for the land degradation and restoration assessment. Algeria said it will contribute material and technical support to the land degradation and restoration assessment, with a focus on drylands.

Following some textual suggestions by some delegations to amend various draft decisions, others opposed reopening clean text proposed to Plenary by the contact groups. The Chair then continued with the adoption of decisions, explaining comments from delegations would be recorded in the report of the session.

Rapporteur Barudanovic introduced the report of the meeting (IPBES/2/L.1), noting that the missing information would be completed by the Secretariat following the meeting’s conclusion. The Plenary adopted the report.

Ghana, for the African Group, saying “we have seen the beginning of our own understanding of what we need, our work programme is starting to bear fruit, and with our hard work here we have been able to start to learning by doing,” called on countries to fully participate in this process.

Mexico, for GRULAC, noted that members had been able to find balance between priority deliverables and the budget, especially in terms of thematic, regional and global assessments.

Malaysia, for the Asia Pacific, called for collaboration between intergovernmental institutions. She underscored the need to build capacity to ensure effective implementation of the work programme.

Latvia, on behalf of EU IPBES member states, expressed gratitude for the engagement and enthusiasm of the stakeholders. She said that the selection process for the new MEP had been more interactive and balanced among the regions.

Turkey, on behalf of the Eastern European region, reiterated that the region is strongly engaged with the goals of the Platform.

The outgoing MEP, in its open letter to the Plenary, lauded members and others involved in the process for their achievements thus far, and expressed thanks for being a part of the process that will provide a solid foundation for the successful implementation of the work programme.

The CMS Secretariat, speaking also for the CBD and CITES Secretariats, emphasized that proceeding with all the assessments is relevant for the implementation of the Conventions, noting, inter alia: the global assessments’ importance in relation to the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the land degradation assessment’s potential contribution to the land degradation neutrality objectives of the UNCCD and the Ramsar Convention.

IIFBES emphasized, inter alia: indigenous and local knowledge holders as important strategic partners and free, prior informed consent as an important right of indigenous peoples and local communities to safeguard control over their knowledge.

Describing the stakeholder engagement strategy as a “major milestone” the Coordinated Stakeholders indicated support for its implementation. Welcoming also the adoption of the COI policy, she looked forward to its robust implementation.

IPBES Executive Secretary Anne Larigauderie said that the support and positive spirit of the discussions provide the Secretariat’s “little army of a team,” with much energy and courage to “attack” implementation of IPBES’ work programme.

Chair Zakri thanked delegates for their honest and well-meaning interventions, and for making his task “interesting and challenging.” He closed the meeting at 7:12 pm.



“We consider this moment as very historical: we have seen the beginning of our own understanding of what we need, our work programme is starting to bear fruit, and with our hard work here we have been able to start to learn by doing. We can look up tomorrow and say that a baby called IPBES has started to take strides.”

These remarks by Ghana’s Alfred Oteng-Yeboah, speaking on behalf of the African Group at the closing plenary of IPBES-3, echoed the general sense of achievement at the end of a grueling week. As Chair Zakri lightheartedly admitted, he was forced to “amend his closing remarks, in which he planned to thank members for making his job an ‘easy’ one, to thank them instead for ‘making my job an interesting and challenging one.’” This brief analysis sifts through the key developments of this “packed week” and attempts to assess what the discussions and final outcome reveal about the challenges and opportunities facing IPBES as it starts to implement its mandate of strengthening the science-policy interface on biodiversity and ecosystem services, based on the Platform’s stated goals of credibility, legitimacy and relevance.


At IPBES-2 in Antalya, members had done the “heavy lifting” needed to finalize the IPBES institutional and funding arrangements and adopt an ambitious five-year work programme. Therefore, as delegates gathered in Bonn for IPBES-3, many expected that just one year into implementation, this would be a relatively “easy” meeting, primarily involving a review of initial activities, and some recalibration where necessary to ensure that implementation was on track. But the agenda quickly revealed itself to be much more challenging. The sheer number of scoping reports and guidance documents that needed to be approved in order to maintain momentum kept the contact group on the work programme meeting for long hours throughout the week. Those in budget deliberations wrestled with uncertainty around a US$20 million budget shortfall, the potential implications of which would affect the feasibility of completing the 18 deliverables agreed on at IPBES-2. The Plenary also had before it a suite of items that needed finalizing to ensure the Platform continues its work on solid footing, notably the conflict of interest policy, the procedures for accepting, preparing, approving and adopting deliverables, and the draft stakeholder engagement strategy. 


Navigating a nascent “science-policy” interface is challenging, and credibility―the quality of being convincing, trusted and believed in―is not effortlessly earned, but easily lost. Executive Secretary Anne Larigauderie’s announcement at the IPBES-3 opening plenary that the Platform’s conceptual framework was due to be published in two scientific journals was therefore a particularly fortuitous early confirmation of the Platform’s emerging scientific credentials. Similarly, the many statements during the week underscoring IPBES’ role in meeting the scientific needs of the biodiversity-related MEAs and the UNCCD helped confirm that the Platform is finding its feet as a strong voice of science to help bolster the sustainability agenda. This perception seemed to be further reflected in the technical and substantive nature of many of the contact group discussions. As one seasoned CBD delegate noted, this stood in contrast to delegates to the CBD’s Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) who are often “too caught up in the political process.”

A large part of the work programme contact group’s discussions was dedicated to finalizing the scoping for assessments, which IPBES-3 agreed to define as “the process by which the Platform will define the scope and objective of a deliverable and the information, human and financial requirements to achieve that objective.” Review of the substantive elements of the scoping documents, which were built on work conducted by nominated IPBES experts at a 2014 Paris workshop, proceeded relatively smoothly, yet prompted concerns among some observers that the rigorous science that went into the scoping documents could be “diluted” by opening the process back up to government delegates. However, others stressed the importance of providing an opportunity for IPBES members to ensure that their decisions strike a balance between scientific rigor and the needs of decision makers and other stakeholders, notably in relation to incorporating concepts such as multiple values or ecosystem boundaries in practice and coupling thematic assessments with subregional, regional and global assessments. As one delegate put it, “while coupling may be sensible from a scientific view point, alignment of thematic assessments with sector-specific policy needs is important.”


Extensive discussions took place with agreement to “couple” the next phase of thematic assessments―on land degradation and restoration, sustainable use of biodiversity, and invasive alien species―with regional and subregional assessments, in order to kick-start activities related to the remaining three IPBES functions: implementing and promoting assessments of various geographic and thematic scope; promoting the accessibility and further development of identified policy support tools; and identifying and addressing capacity-building needs through integration and by catalyzing financial support.

 One of the “lessons learned” during the first year of implementation, as discussed in the Executive Secretary’s report, is that effectively bridging the science-policy divide will require substantial investments in developing the requisite infrastructure of policy support tools and technical support units at regional and lower levels. While the report focused on lessons in relation to enhancing the effectiveness of the Multidisciplinary Expert Panel to drive this process, it also calls for building the Secretariat’s capacity to “properly establish, operationalize, oversee and coordinate” TSUs.

Many, therefore, welcomed the operationalization of the UN collaborative partnership, in which four agencies―UNDP, UNESCO, FAO and UNEP―will provide coordinated support to maximize synergies with the IPBES work programme. For example, UNDP’s BES-Net network is expected to play a key role in scaling up capacity building through the IPBES TSUs, while collaboration with FAO seeks to enhance the focus on interlinkages with food security and poverty alleviation strategies, especially at the national level.

During the closing plenary, many speakers reiterated that such value-added aspects of the IPBES work programme are key to its continuing relevance in the overcrowded international environmental governance arena. Pointing to some of the innovative elements of the work programme, such as the methodological study on how to work with multiple values and pilot studies at the regional level on working with indigenous and local knowledge, several observers called for the Platform to chart its own path and avoid becoming either the “twin of the IPCC” or the “little sibling of CBD.” This view was reiterated by IPCC Chair Pachauri, who said that while “the IPCC might have inspired the IPBES, the new generation is often a few steps ahead of the previous one.”


In addition to ensuring that IPBES grows into a source of scientifically rigorous deliverables that also meet policy makers’ needs, many also underscored the need to ensure that IPBES is seen as a legitimate platform. To this end, they pointed to the urgency of finalizing both the conflict of interest policy and the stakeholder engagement strategies.

As noted in the “assumptions” section of the scoping report for the land degradation and restoration assessment, and echoed in other scoping documents, “promoting restoration and designing and implementing sustainable land management systems require a participatory process involving the co-production of knowledge with relevant and diverse stakeholders.”

At IPBES-3, participants from across these constituencies underscored the need for a robust, open and transparent conflict of interest policy to protect the Platform. The need for such a process was underscored throughout the week as many references were made to the Secretariat’s response in the journal Nature to concerns over conflicts of interest among the experts involved—some were representatives from the private sector—in the fast-tracked pollinators assessment, which according to some, may impact the assessment’s credibility. Deliberations in the contact group stressed the need to protect the privacy of experts (and not deter participation) while also making it clear that a rigorous policy is in place to avoid any conflict of interest. As these rules were finalized, conversations often had to entertain potential scenarios about the types of interests that might be disclosed in this process. As one observer noted, the success of these rules will boil down to “what happens with the review process” in practice. Another noted philosophically that the COI policy is a “living document” that can be revisited as IPBES learns from its early work programme.

In the same vein, having postponed discussion of the draft stakeholder engagement strategy in Antalya, there were strong feelings among stakeholders that if the strategy was not finalized in Bonn, some might “disengage” from the process altogether. Many pointed out that the Platform should not expect to continue to benefit from their in-kind contributions without formally acknowledging the role stakeholders play in realizing the IPBES’ objectives. While celebrating the last-minute compromise that “miraculously” saved the strategy, the coordinated stakeholders group acknowledged that much more work is needed to reach out to others and create a truly inclusive network, while at the same time ensuring that the Platform provides a level playing field for multiple knowledge systems, not just established scientists.


With pressure to move forward at this Plenary, pragmatism won the day. Initially, some parties wanted to maintain the status quo as agreed in Antalya (with all the work programme deliverables being finalized by 2018). But when reporting the outcome of joint budget and work programme contact group discussions, the Bureau noted that the value of the “coupling discussions” was in finding a way to prioritize, integrate and spread out the agreed deliverables to ensure that the work programme would be fully implemented by 2019.

However, with this rejigging of its work programme, IPBES has also opened itself up to increased scrutiny as its diverse science and policy stakeholders await deliverables to see if they indeed meet their needs. Perhaps understandably, IPBES has prioritized assessments as the “low hanging fruit” that will not only demonstrate its credibility, relevance and legitimacy, but also provide an opportunity to refine procedures as needed, given that by next year the bulk of its 2014-2018 work programme will be well under way.

As one observer concluded, the constructive discussions revealed that IPBES’ members and stakeholders want the Platform to succeed and it still has a window to apply the initial lessons learned before the inevitable calls to show concrete results begin to get louder. With the first real outputs of the current work programme—the two fast-track assessments on pollination and scenario analysis and modeling of biodiversity and ecosystem services—up for discussion at IPBES-4, the next session of the Plenary will likely be the first “real litmus test” of the credibility, relevance and legitimacy of the Platform.


Expert Group Meeting on an Optional Protocol to UNDRIP: This group will discuss a study of the possibility of an optional protocol to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), focusing on land, territories and resource rights, as well as the right to self-determination, self-government and autonomy. The results of the meeting will be reported to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues at its fourteenth session in May 2015. dates: 27-29 January 2015  location: UN Headquarters, New York  contact: Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues  phone: +1-917-367-5100  fax: +1-917-367-5102 www:

Les Assises du Vivant 2015: Biodiversity and Climate Change in Interaction: Entitled “Biodiversity and Climate Change in Interaction: Creating new life possibilities,” this event will focus on three themes: rethinking conservation – towards “no regrets” strategies; developing ecological solidarity and environmental justice by “teaming up” with the rest of the living world; and doing business differently by articulating performance and resilience.  dates: 9-10 February 2015  location: Paris, France  contact: John Crowley, UNESCO www:

Third International Conference on Natural Resource Management for Food and Rural Livelihoods: Organized by the Soil Conservation Society of India in collaboration with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, this conference will address ways to boost agricultural productivity for food security and economic development, while conserving and restoring the natural resource base. Topics to be covered include: assessment, development and management of natural and human resources for livelihood and food security; integrated management of water and land resources to prevent land degradation and salinity-related desertification; and policy frameworks for capacity building to mitigate emerging problems in natural resource management.  dates: 10-13 February 2015  location: New Delhi, India  contact: Shri Jagatveer Singh  phone: +91-11-25848244  email: www:

Third UNCCD International Scientific Conference:  The third International Scientific Conference of the UNCCD will address combating desertification, land degradation and drought for poverty reduction and sustainable development – the contribution of science, technology, traditional knowledge and practices.  dates: 9-12 March 2015  location: Cancun, Mexico  contact: UNCCD Secretariat  phone: +49-228-815-2800  fax: +49-228-815-2898/99  email: www:

Third Global Science Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture: The Third Global Scientific Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) is the result of a Netherlands-led initiative aimed at simultaneously addressing the themes of agriculture, food security and climate change. The conference will continue the work of the first and second conferences, held in Wageningen, the Netherlands, in 2011, and Davis, California, US, in 2013. The initiative has structured its work around two parallel processes: one to address the science of CSA and the other to focus on policy. The conference, which will focus on vulnerable countries and populations, filling research gaps and closing the science-policy divide, will be an opportunity for researchers to update knowledge of CSA and make recommendations to policymakers..  dates: 16-18 March 2015  location: Montpellier, France  www:

International Day of Forests: UN General Assembly resolution 67/200, adopted on 21 December 2012, declared 21 March the International Day of Forests. date: 21 March 2015  contact: UNFF Secretariat  phone: +1-212-963-3401  fax: +1-917-367-3186  email: www:

Africa Rising: Mobilising Biodiversity Data for Sustainable Development: This conference brings together stakeholders, aiming to: accelerate regional understanding of the biodiversity data-science-policy value chain; strengthen regional engagement, learning networks, and collaborative synergies with a view to streamlining the data-science-policy value chain; and galvanize political commitment to mobilising Africa’s biodiversity data.  dates: 24-26 March 2015  location: Cape Town, South Africa  contact: Russell Galt, South African National Biodiversity Institute  phone: +27-12-843-5000  email: www:

14th Session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues: The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) will follow up on the outcome of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples (WCIP) and discuss the post-2015 development agenda. The 14th session will include discussions on youth self-harm and suicide, indigenous issues in the Pacific region, and the possibility of an optional protocol to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Other issues to be addressed include implementation of UNDRIP, and the future work of the UNPFII.  dates: 20 April - 1 May 2015  location: UN Headquarters, New York  contact: UNPFII Secretariat  phone: +1-917-367-5100  fax: +1-917-367-5102  email: www:

UNFF11: UNFF11 will consider the future of the International Arrangement on Forests, based on challenges and its effectiveness. The meeting will also review progress in the implementation of the global objectives on forests and the non-legally binding instrument on all types of forests. Thematic issues under consideration include sustainable forest management and forest law enforcement as well as cooperation and coordination.  dates: 4-15 May 2015  location: UN Headquarters, New York  contact: UNFF Secretariat  phone: +1-212-963-3401  fax: +1-917-367-3186  email: www:

International Day for Biological Diversity 2015: The UN proclaimed 22 May the International Day for Biological Diversity to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. The theme for 2015 is “Biodiversity for Sustainable Development” to reflect the importance of efforts made to establish a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of the UN post-2015 development agenda for the period of 2015-2030 and the relevance of biodiversity for the achievement of sustainable development. The selection of the theme also underlines the adoption of the Gangwon Declaration at the High-level Segment of the twelfth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity.  date: 22 May 2015  contact: CBD Secretariat  phone: +1-514-288-2220  fax: +1-514-288-6588  email: www:

Ramsar COP 12: The 12th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (COP 12) will take place in June 2015.  dates: 1-9 June 2015  location: Punta del Este, Uruguay  contact: Ramsar Secretariat  phone: +41-22-999-0170  fax: +41-22-999-0169  email: www:

Third Plenary Assembly of the Global Soil Partnership: The third Global Soil Partnership (GSP) Plenary Assembly is scheduled in June 2015.  dates: 22-24 June 2015  location: Rome, Italy  contact: Ronald Job Vargas Rojas, GSP Secretariat  email: www:

CITES AC28: The 28th meeting of the Animals Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES AC28) will develop recommendations for the seventeenth meeting of the CITES Conference of the Parties.  dates: 30 August - 3 September 2015  location: Tel Aviv, Israel  contact: CITES Secretariat  phone: +41-22-917-81-39/40  fax: +41-22-797-34-17  email:  www:

CITES PC22: The 22nd meeting of the Plants Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES PC22) will develop recommendations for the seventeenth meeting of the CITES Conference of the Parties.  dates: 19-23 October 2015  location: Tbilisi, Georgia  contact: CITES Secretariat  phone: +41-22-917-81-39/40  fax: +41-22-797-34-17  email:  www:

IPBES-4: The fourth session of the Plenary of IPBES will take place in early 2016, with the dates and location to be determined. contact: IPBES Secretariat  phone: +49-228-815-0570  email:  www:





















Convention on Biological Diversity

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora

Convention on Migratory Species

Conflict of interest

Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN

Global Biodiversity Information Facility

Latin American and Caribbean Group

Invasive alien species

International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

Indigenous and local knowledge

Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Multilateral environmental agreement

Multidisciplinary Expert Panel

Stakeholder engagement strategy

Technical Support Unit

United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification

United Nations Development Programme

United Nations Environment Programme

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Further information