IPBES Working to Finalize its Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) has been working on a definitive report of the state of nature, ecosystems, and nature’s contribution to people around the globe. This is going to be the first such wide-ranging report since the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment was published in 2005 and the first inter-governmental report of its kind. The parameters of the assessment were determined in February 2016. In May 2017, outside experts reviewed the first draft assessment and their comments were included in subsequent drafts compiled by the IPBES experts. In April 2018, government representatives and experts reviewed the second draft and their comments will be included in the final report. Beginning on April 29 and through May 4, the 7th Plenary Session will take place in Paris, France and the final report will be negotiated. It is expected that the final version of the report will be officially unveiled on May 6. The report is being prepared by 150 experts from 50 different countries and will be commented on by a further 310 experts.

The Global Assessment will cover all land-based ecosystems, with the exception of Antarctica, inland water, and the oceans. It will assess changes over the past 50 years and the impact these changes may have on economies, livelihoods, quality of life, and food security. It will investigate the impact that trade and other global operations have on   ecosystems and biodiversity. The impacts of climate change, pollution, invasive species, and changes to sea and land levels will also be discussed. Any knowledge gaps that need to be filled will be assessed. Additionally, the report will attempt to predict what biodiversity may look like in the future under different conditions; as well as assess policy, technology, governance, and behavior that relate to reaching global goals for biodiversity.

The report will be arranged in 6 chapters. First, there will be an outline of the key elements in the relationship of people to nature. Second, the current trends of nature will be presented. The third chapter will assess the progress towards achieving the sustainable development goals and the Paris Agreement targets. The fourth chapter will discuss possible future scenarios. The fifth chapter will explore how to achieve a sustainable future. Finally, the report will highlight opportunities for policy and decision makers to impact the future of biodiversity.

A second draft version of the report was released to experts for review. The Agence France-Presse (AFP) released a news story about the draft report last week. In the story, AFP wrote that the draft report predicts that up to one million species face extinction as a result of human influence. AFP notes that the report links loss of clean air, drinkable water, forests, pollinators, fish, and mangroves as dwindling natural services. The report also supposedly includes information that 50% of inland waterways, 40% of the marine environment, and 75% of land surfaces have been “severely altered”. Some of the most compromised areas are home to indigenous and poor communities. The IPBES responded to the reports about the draft statement by releasing a statement noting that it would not comment on the report while it is still in the review process. The IPBES also noted that the draft may change before the final report is published as a result of talks this week at the plenary session. The IPBES also highlighted that the draft was circulated to government and expert reviewers under strict confidentiality.

The IPBES is the global body that assesses the state of biodiversity and the contribution of nature to people. There are around 132 member governments. The IPBES strives to policy and decisions through science to ensure sustainability and long-term health for people.

UPDATE 5/6/2019:

The media release for the report notes that species are declining at rates that are unprecedented in the history of the globe.

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