New UN biodiversity forum opens with call to action

5 October 2011 | Uncategorized

New York – The new United Nations body aimed at reversing the planet’s unprecedented loss of species and ecosystems met today for its first session as the UN environment chief called for the ideas behind it to be converted into action.

Set up by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) convened in Nairobi as delegates gathered to agree upon the protocols necessary for establishing the body’s operational platform.

In his address to the meeting, UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner urged delegates to hasten IPBES into action, determine how it will be run and where it will be located.

“This platform needs to work. It needs to make a difference,” he said. “And to do that it needs to be operationalized in a manner where the best science can be brought to bear on informing policy-making at the global, regional and national levels.”

Mr. Steiner pointed to four banners set up around the assembly hall in Nairobi, each bearing the words defining IPBES’ four overarching functions – “knowledge generation”, “assessment”, “policy support” and “capacity building”. He urged delegates to bear the four functions in mind in order to deliver “the highest standards possible.”

“Ensuring that IPBES is set up in a way which strengthens the scientific underpinning that addresses the ongoing and increasing declines in global biodiversity and the continuing degradation of ecosystem services will be vital,” he told those gathered.

IPBES, which aims to reflect the UN-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that has helped to catalyze government action on global warming, will foster the search for government action needed to reverse the accelerating degradation of the natural world and its species, which some experts put at 1,000 times the natural progression.