IPBES - Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services
IPBES stands for Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Its mission is to provide policy-makers with scientific advice on biodiversity and ecosystem services.
IPBES was founded in 2012. Its secretariat is in Bonn. Currently, 13 countries (including Germany) are members of IPBES.
The Platform collects and analyses scientific data from around the world and identifies policy options to protect biodiversity. IPBES does not conduct any of its own research. Its core task is to produce reports on the current state of biodiversity and the services that ecosystems provide to people. To achieve this aim, IPBES member states nominate experts to draw up the reports.
Overview of IPBES assessment reports created since 2016
|Globa Reports||Biodiversity and ecosystem services||2019|
|Regional and subregional Reports ||Africa||2018|
|North, South and Central America||2018|
|Asia and the Pacific||2018|
|Europe and Central Asia||2018|
|Thematic reports||Pollinators, pollination and food production||2016|
|Land degradation and restoration||2018|
|Methodological reports||Policy support tools and scenarios and models of biodiversity and ecosystem services||2017|
Core messages of the global report
- Biodiversity and ecosystem services such as food, clean water and medicine are essential for human survival
- Yet their present state is deteriorating dramatically: today, the rate of species extinction is at least tens to hundreds of times higher than the average over the past 10 million years
- 75 percent of the land surface and 66 percent of the ocean area have been significantly altered; over 85% of the world’s wetlands have been lost
- These negative trends have been driven by numerous factors such as changes in land use, pollution and climate change
- Indirect drivers, for example social and political factors, are a good starting point for measures at all levels of society
- The Platform’s next work programme up to 2030 was also adopted at the plenary session
The first thematic assessment report, which focusses on pollinators, pollination and food production, was drawn up in 2016.
The key findings:
- Production of many high-quality food crops, primarily fruit and vegetables, depends on pollination
- For some years now, many regions around the world have been experiencing a drastic decline in pollinators
- The dramatic loss of bee colonies occurs differently in Europe, North America and other world regions
- Intensive agricultural production and, in particular, the use of pesticides pose major threats to pollinators and pollination
- Another thematic report on land degradation1 and restoration was concluded in 2018; its key messages are: the steady expansion and unsustainable management of cropland and grazing land is the largest direct cause of land degradation globally, resulting in a significant loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services
- Land degradation has reached critical levels in many parts of the world; wetlands, for example bogs, are particularly severely affected
- Increasing demand for food and biofuels will likely lead to increasing land degradation in the future
- Preventing, reducing and reversing land degradation could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than a third by 2030
1 Land degradation: loss or decline of biodiversity in terrestrial ecosystems (e.g. in tropical rain forests, deserts and tundras) and their associated aquatic ecosystem (e.g. lakes and rivers)
Organisational structure of IPBES
IPBES consists of several bodies that have diverse functions and responsibilities. They cooperate in giving scientific advice to policy-makers on biodiversity and the services that ecosystems provide to people (for example clean water, clean air, healthy food and the supply of wood and other raw materials).
Plenary and plenary sessions
The IPBES plenary is the Platform’s governing body. It convenes every one to two years. The plenary is the general assembly of all IPBES member states where fundamental and strategic decisions are taken. Ministry representatives from the member states and accredited participating organisations take part in the sessions. At the sessions, decisions are reached on leadership roles, expert groups and taskforces, procedural points, the work programme and the budget. The plenary also decides on the scope and structure of the IPBES assessment reports. It is supported by two lower-level bodies: the Bureau (administration) and the Multidisciplinary Expert Panel (MEP).
The IPBES Bureau is comprised of two representatives from each of the five UN regions. In between plenaries, the Bureau takes decisions guided by the IPBES plenary decisions. The Bureau drafts documents in preparation for the meeting and chairs the sessions.
Multidisciplinary Expert Panel (MEP)
The Multidisciplinary Expert Panel is the coordinating scientific support for IPBES. This includes giving scientific advice on the current work programme. The plenary elects MEP members for a period of two years. The MEP consists of equal numbers of representatives from the five UN regions.
Expert groups and taskforces
Expert groups and task forces are set up for a limited period of time in order to ensure successful implementation of the work programme. They draw up reports including the thematic, regional and global IPBES assessment reports.
The secretariat plays an organisational role and is based in Bonn. One of its main responsibilities is to organise and coordinate implementation of the IPBES work programme. It is entrusted with other tasks by the plenary and prepares its meetings.
National focal points
All IBPES member states are encouraged to establish National Focal Points. This National Focal Point nominates national experts for the IPBES deliverables and coordinates the national assessment process of IPBES reports in which different ministries and authorities are involved. In Germany, the National Focal Point is located within the Federal Environment Ministry.
IPBES plenary session outcomes
The IPBES plenary is the Platform’s governing body. It convenes every one to two years and takes fundamental and strategic decisions. Ministry representatives from the member states and accredited participating organisations take part in the sessions.
Eighth (virtual) plenary session 2021
The 8th plenary session (IPBES-8) took place in June 2021. The conference was originally scheduled to be held in Morocco at the beginning of 2021. It had to be postponed and organised as virtual conference with a scaled-down agenda due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Core decisions of IPBES-8 were:
- Adoption of two scoping reports for future assessments under the 2030 IPBES work programme ("nexus" and "transformative change")
- Invitation for increased cooperation between IPBES and IPCC
- Adoption of the transitional work programmes for the IPBES task forces
- Approval of the IPBES budget for 2021 and 2022.
Seventh plenary session 2019 at UNESCO headquarters in Paris
The 7th plenary session (IPBES-7) took place at the invitation of France at UNESCO headquarters in Paris in May 2019, with 800 participants. The plenary’s core decisions were:
- Approval of the global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services. The report comprises the globally accepted current state of scientific knowledge and highlights the desolate state of biodiversity and ecosystem services. It underlines how urgent it is that we tackle the main drivers of environmental destruction and biodiversity loss at all levels of society.
- The following reports will be drawn up for the IPBES work programme up to 2030: transformative change, interlinkages among biodiversity, water, food and health (“nexus assessment”), and biodiversity and business.
- Financing of IPBES activities was secured for 2019 and 2020.
- Ana Maria Hernandez from Colombia was elected IPBES Chair.
Sixth plenary session 2018 in Medellín, Columbia
The 6th plenary session (IPBES-6) was attended by 750 representatives from IPBES member state governments, research institutes, NGOs and other stakeholders. Core decisions of the 6th IPBES plenary session (IPBES-6) included:
- Approval of four regional reports on biodiversity and ecosystem services in Europe and Central Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Asia and the Pacific
- Adoption of the thematic report on land degradation and restoration
- Commissioning of two new assessment reports on the sustainable use of wild species and the importance of biodiversity
- Specification of the procedure for the development of the new IPBES work programme and the strategic framework up to 2030
Fifth plenary session 2017 in Bonn, Germany
The 5th plenary session (IPBES-5) at the World Conference Center in Bonn took the following decisions:
- The EU is granted enhanced participation in its capacity as observer (this does not affect the memberships of individual EU member states)
- Development of criteria for an internal and external review of the IPBES
Fourth plenary session 2016 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Core decisions at the 4th plenary session (IPBES-4) included:
- Approval of the first two IPBES reports:
- assessment report on pollinators, pollination and food production and
- methodological assessment report on scenarios and models of biodiversity and ecosystem services
- Launch of the global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services in addition to rolling regional reports
- Unanimous election of Prof. Robert T. Watson of the United Kingdom as IPBES Chair for a period of three years
Third plenary session 2015 in Bonn, Germany
In January 2015, at the 3rd plenary session (IPBES-3) held at IPBES headquarters in Bonn, the following core decisions for the ongoing implementation of the ambitious work programme adopted at the previous plenary session were taken:
- Approval of scoping reports for the four regional and subregional reports (Europe and Central Asia, Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific) on biodiversity and ecosystem services and a general guide on how to develop these reports
- Adoption of the scoping report for the thematic assessment on land degradation and restoration
- Decision on the development of scoping reports for the three reports on invasive alien species, for the assessment of the sustainable use of biodiversity and the global report on biodiversity and ecosystem services
- Clarification of procedural questions regarding the approval of IPBES reports and decision for transparent rules in case of conflicts of interest
- Decision on a stakeholder engagement strategy with the aim of mobilising and engaging a wide and diverse range of stakeholders and knowledge holders in IPBES. This has enabled NGOs, researchers and research institutes to officially take part in the work of IPBES.
- Adoption of a communications strategy
Second plenary session 2013 in Antalya, Turkey
At the 2nd IPBES plenary session in December 2013 in Antalya, Turkey, decisive steps were taken to map out the future course of IPBES:
- Decision on a comprehensive and ambitious work programme for the period 2014 to 2018
- Adoption of a conceptual framework and a budget for the implementation of the work programme during its first two years and establishment of a trust fund
- Appointment of Dr Anne Larigauderie of France as first Executive Secretary of the IPBES secretariat by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
First plenary session 2013 in Bonn, Germany
The first official plenary session (IPBES-1) in 2013 at the IPBES secretariat headquarters in Bonn took the following decisions:
- Adoption of rules for the future work of IPBES, establishment of the organisational structure and appointment of posts to the different IPBES bodies
- Election of members to IPBES’ executive bodies: the Bureau (administration) and the Multidisciplinary Expert Panel (MEP). The MEP is comprised of leading scientists from around the world, which are elected for a period of two years. It consists of equal numbers of representatives from the five UN regions. Prof. Abdul Hamid Zakri of Malaysia, with his broad experience gained in international leadership positions, was appointed IPBES Chair.
- Decision that the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) will provide the IPBES secretariat
Since its formation, IPBES has organised two workshops: a workshop on biodiversity and pandemics and, together with IPCC, a workshop on biodiversity and climate change. Both workshop reports were presented to the 8th IPBES plenary session in 2021 for information.
2020 IPBES workshop on biodiversity and pandemics
In the spring of 2020, against the backdrop of the emerging novel coronavirus, the IPBES Bureau and the Multidisciplinary Expert Panel (MEP) decided to hold a platform workshop on the link between biodiversity and pandemics in July 2020 in accordance with IPBES procedures. In line with decision IPBES-3/3 annex I, platform workshops can be organised to support activities that have already been adopted by the IPBES plenary to have, for example, a limited number of selected experts assess a specific topic in more detail. In the case of the workshop on biodiversity and pandemics, the aim is to mainly use the outcomes to support the ongoing preparations (scoping) for the implementation of the IPBES nexus assessment. The outcomes outlined in the workshop report were neither discussed nor approved by the plenary.
IPBES-IPCC 2020 workshop on biodiversity and climate change
Approximately 50 leading global experts in biodiversity and climate from all regions of the world took part in the workshop on the links between biodiversity and climate change. At the suggestion of the IPBES plenary, the workshop took place in 2020. It could lead to future joint initiatives, which, however, would still have to be assessed by IPBES and IPCC member states. The workshop outcomes build on IPBES and IPCC assessment and special reports and the latest scientific literature. Numerous external experts have reviewed the joint workshop report. However, it was drafted without the participation of the member states in the review process and was not adopted by them. The workshop report therefore does not have the same status as an IPCC or IPBES assessment report.
Germany's contribution to IPBES
International IPBES activities
As the IPBES host country, Germany attaches great importance to supporting IPBES, for example by transferring one million euros annually to the trust fund for carrying out the IPBES work programme and financially supporting the participation of delegates from developing countries in plenary sessions. Germany also supports capacity building as part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI), for example IPBES-related networking among experts in various regions of the world. From 2016 to 2019, Germany co-financed the Technical Support Unit for the global assessment report in the IPBES Secretariat. This makes Germany one of the main funders of IPBES. German experts have also worked on every IPBES assessment report.
German IPBES Coordination Office
The German IPBES Coordination Office was set up in early 2014 by the Federal Environment Ministry (BMU) and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). It acts as the link between the international IPBES bodies, the BMU as the IPBES National Focal Point and German scientists in the field of biodiversity and ecosystem services. The Coordination Office keeps German scientists informed about international and national IPBES processes. It is responsible for coordinating the process for nominating German experts. Another of the office’s key tasks is public relations work. It also organises various stakeholder events. Beyond this, the German IPBES Coordination Office supports the IPBES National Focal Point in the BMU. The German IPBES Coordination Office is housed by the executing agency of the German Aerospace Centre (DLR).
National forums on IPBES
In the run-up to the international IPBES plenary sessions, the Federal Environment Ministry and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research host a national forum on IPBES. These forums facilitate dialogue between the scientific community, politics and the general public in Germany. German scientists, for example, speak about their work in the IPBES bodies and present on various draft scoping reports and assessments. The national forums also contribute to preparations for the position Germany takes at the upcoming IPBES plenary session. Current information about the national forums on IPBES can be found on the website of the German IPBES Coordination Office.