IPBES, the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, was established in April 2012 following seven years of negotiations.

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ICSU (our predecessor organization) through its global environmental change programmes and in particular DIVERSITAS, played an active role in advocating for and shaping its creation as a non-governmental organisation representing the international scientific community.

IPBES is an international science-policy platform, with similarities to IPCC, which provides policy relevant scientific information on biodiversity and ecosystem services in response to requests from governments and other stakeholders. IPBES operates under the auspices of UNEP, UNESCO, FAO and UNDP.

In 2013, IPBES adopted, at its second plenary (December 2013, Antalya, Turkey) an ambitious work programme for 2014–18 including capacity building activities, fast-track methodological and thematic assessments (on pollination, pollinators and food security (2015), land degradation and restoration (2018), methodological assessments (e.g. on scenarios and modelling of biodiversity and ecosystem services); a set of regional and sub-regional assessments; and importantly, the initiation of a global assessment of biodiversity and ecosystem services, a decade after the publication of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. IPBES in its initial programme of work has also put a lot of emphasis in developing a strategy and mechanism for stakeholder engagement in IPBES work and inclusion of indigenous and local knowledge systems.

ICSU led the input of the scientific community during the negotiation phase and its early implementation phase providing views (plenary statements, written contributions) on all aspects of IPBES including rules of procedure, the conceptual framework, the programme of work, and the involvement of non-governmental stakeholders. ICSU, together with IUCN, worked on the stakeholder engagement strategy, and co-chaired, with IUCN, the multi-stakeholder forum of IPBES up until 2015.

Future Earth, continuing the engagement of the global environmental change programmes, plays a leading role in mobilising the scientific community in IPBES and providing major contribution to IPBES deliverables, and in filling gaps in the science related to IPBES’ work. ISC is an observer organization of IPBES, mobilising its members to participate in the deliverables of IPBES and strengthening the science-policy interface on major global issues at global and national levels.

In 2018, ICSU was chosen to coordinate the External Review of IPBES. The decision, which was announced at the 6th Plenary of IPBES in Medellin, Colombia in March 2018, followed an open call for Expressions of Interest and a separate call for nominations of experts to serve on the review panel in 2017.

The review will examine the effectiveness of IPBES as a science-policy interface, with a view to assembling a draft review report by October 2018.


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