The nature and functioning of the physical, biotic and social elements of our planet has been changing dramatically in past decades. Part of maintaining stable biotic-social systems in the future is to understand the drivers of change and their individual and collective impacts on the biophysical and social systems so that we can make informed choices on those responses.
The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) provides a unique opportunity for both the science and policy communities to work together in order to deliver the information and guidance needed to help society manoeuvre the challenges it will face in the future.
Significant progress was made at the first session of the plenary meeting held in Nairobi, October 2011, where over 130 countries began the discussions on the scientific scope, institutional modalities and rules of procedures for the implementation of IPBES. Final agreements on these issues will be decided at the second session of the plenary meeting, to be held in April, 2012 in Panama.
The second session meeting in Panama will be a corner stone event for the establishment of IPBES. Establishing a complex science-policy interface such as IPBES will require many decisions. The challenge in Panama will be to agree on a minimum set of decisions to enable an effective and efficient process for the implementation of the platform.
In response to this challenge, participating scientists from the international scientific community submitted the following considerations and recommendations for the second session of the IPBES plenary. They are based on a workshop convened by the Governments of Japan and South Africa and hosted by the United Nations University, February 27-29, Tokyo, Japan.
In preparation for the workshop in Tokyo, the United Nations University, on the request from the Ministry of Environment, Japan, launched a global survey in January 2012. The objective of the survey was to gather feedback from the larger scientific community on many of the issues to be deliberated in Panama. Over 2000 scientists participated in the survey with 1607 respondents from over 136 countries fully completing the survey. The survey feedback by the international scientific community sends a strong message to the policy community calling for their support as well as recommendations for strengthening the science-policy interface on biodiversity and ecosystem services.
This document draws upon the first and second informal science workshops on assessment held in Tokyo, the first session plenary meeting of IPBES and the global survey. Participants at the second informal science workshop on assessments highlight four key messages that cut across the working documents prepared for the second session plenary meeting of IPBES.