The Stakeholder Day preceding the fifth session of the Plenary of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES-5 Stakeholder Day) was held on Monday, 6 March 2017, in Bonn, Germany.
In the morning, participants heard updates on the IPBES work programme, the IPBES communication and outreach strategy, activities of IPBES stakeholders, and preparations for the launch of four regional assessments. In the afternoon, four breakout groups discussed stakeholder contributions on IPBES-5 agenda items, including: future methodological assessments on scenarios and models of biodiversity and ecosystem services; a scoping report for a methodological assessment of the diverse conceptualization of multiple values of nature and its benefits; the review of the Platform’s effectiveness; and indigenous and local knowledge systems (ILK).
Carolyn Lundquist, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research of New Zealand (NIWA), and Günter Mitlacher, WWF, on behalf of the Open-ended Network of IPBES Stakeholders, opened the IPBES-5 Stakeholder Day.
UPDATES ON THE IPBES WORK PROGRAMME: IPBES Executive Secretary Anne Larigauderie underscored stakeholders’ role in disseminating and using IPBES publications and tools. She gave an overview of progress in implementing the IPBES work programme, key topics on the IPBES-5 agenda, and updates on of the status of the various assessments.
IPBES Chair Robert Watson (UK) emphasized that the challenge for IPBES is to raise awareness that the importance of biodiversity and ecosystem services is on par with climate change regarding the future of the planet. He highlighted IPBES’ relevance in assessing progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. In response to questions from the floor, he agreed with the need to simplify the summaries for “decision makers” to be used by local stakeholders and government, the private sector and other NGO actors.
STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT, STRATEGY AND COMMUNICATION: Robert Spaull, IPBES Secretariat, provided an update on the IPBES communication and outreach strategy and activities. He highlighted the role of stakeholders to help spread knowledge on IPBES’ work and the webcasting of the session to reach out and allow for the involvement of a broader audience of stakeholders.
STAKEHOLDER ACTIVITIES IN SUPPORT OF IPBES: Günther Mitlacher introduced the initiatives that different stakeholders and governments have undertaken to disseminate IPBES’ work and to support stakeholder engagement.
Kristina Raab, German Network-Forum on Biodiversity Research (NEFO), provided an overview of the Biodiversity Science-Policy Interfaces Network for Early Career Scientists (BSPIN), saying that BSPIN aims to encourage the involvement of early career and young scientists in IPBES. Raab then informed about the fourth Pan-European IPBES Stakeholder Consultation (PESC-4), to be held in Vácrátót, Hungary, from 12-14 June 2017. She said that it will facilitate the involvement of stakeholders in IPBES’ work and activities.
PREPARING FOR THE LAUNCH OF THE REGIONAL ASSESSMENTS: Robert Spaull outlined the various communication phases for the launch of the four Regional Assessments and the Assessment of Land Degradation and Restoration. As most important goals, he emphasized reaching a wider audience and ensuring and documenting the use and impacts of the reports.
The facilitators of the four breakout sessions introduced each issue in plenary, followed by in-depth discussions in small groups.
SCENARIOS AND MODELS OF BIODIVERSITY AND ECOSYSTEM SERVICES: In plenary, facilitators noted that the assessment of scenarios and models of biodiversity and ecosystem services provides expert guidance on the use of scenarios and models to inform policy-making and decision-making in a variety of contexts. Noting that the second phase will further develop this work, they suggested that discussions focus on, among other issues, the current use of scenarios and models for decision-making and the potential for future use.
During the breakout group, participants noted that models and scenarios are already being used for, inter alia, bolstering disaster preparedness and “vision exercises.” Some participants queried how to “marry” different scenarios across sectors and scales. They also queried how to incorporate private initiatives, as alternate to public policies, into models and scenarios. Another queried how to use models and scenarios in situations that may seem too complex for such an approach. Other issues included: scenarios and models to “shock” governments into action; the inclusion of “citizen science”; scenarios and models to assess issues, such as educational impacts, urbanization, and diverse values of nature; and dissemination and transformation of models so that they are understood “across the board.”
DIVERSE CONCEPTUALIZATION OF THE MULTIPLE VALUES OF NATURE: In plenary, members of the technical support unit (TSU) on the methodological assessment regarding the diverse conceptualization of multiple values of nature outlined the assessment’s purpose to support capturing different perspectives, preferences and world views on nature’s values. They noted the assessment should not only identify diverse conceptualizations of values, but also develop ways for bridging them. They stressed the need to learn how values are integrated into decision-making and to develop socio-economic indicators.
In the breakout group, participants discussed the work of the TSU so far, including the development of a preliminary guide regarding diverse conceptualization of multiple values of nature and its benefits, including biodiversity and ecosystem functions and services and the publication of a peer-reviewed article summarizing the guide. The discussion then focused on how to address value judgements implied by commonly-used approaches and terms, such as “ecosystem services” and “benefits.” One TSU member explained that, for example, “contributions” is a more inclusive term than “benefits” since it includes non-monetary contributions, as well as negative contributions of nature to human wellbeing. One participant cautioned against adding too many new terms to an already complex issue, noting new terms should serve to introduce new perspectives.
Participants also discussed how to link IPBES’ work with work undertaken by other processes, in particular Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
On postponing the launch of the assessment, some participants suggested this would allow including experiences and outcomes from current assessments and other initiatives underway, while others preferred launching the assessment at IPBES-5, noting that it will be easier to raise funds once the assessment is underway.
IPBES REVIEW: In the morning plenary, Thomas Koetz, IPBES Secretariat, said the 2019 review of the implementation of the first IPBES work programme will comprise both internal and external elements, the latter involving a review panel composed of 10 members. He underscored that stakeholders can contribute to the discussion of the terms of reference for such a review, including on criteria to be used for the evaluation, organization of the review process, and the draft questionnaire to gather information.
The break-out group stressed that the outcomes of the review should inform the design of IPBES’ second work programme, urging to allow sufficient time between the two. They stressed the need to provide adequate budgetary resources to allow the external review to use various ways to gather information, including interviews and literature reviews.
On the valuation criteria, some participants said policy relevance is not adequately addressed. They also called for defining effectiveness in the IPBES context.
On the organization of the external review, participants asked to ensure transparency and independence. They supported a selection committee appointed by the IPBES Plenary instead of the Multidisciplinary Expert Panel (MEP) and the Bureau. They added that the external review should be coordinated by an external professional organization, rather than by an administrative officer recruited by IPBES.
On the questionnaire, they addressed: the need for an underlying data analysis strategy; avoiding yes/no questions, including value scales to easily measure results; balancing qualitative and quantitative questions; engaging all relevant stakeholders involved with IPBES’ work; and accessible data presentation.
ILK SYSTEMS: Thomas Koetz, IPBES Secretariat, provided an overview of the proposed approach to working with ILK in IPBES. On its general framework, he noted the approach is: multifaceted; cross-cutting; based on clear definitions and principles; and requires involvement at various scales to be supported by strategic partners. He described four distinct but overlapping phases: defining questions in the scoping of the assessment; bringing in a wide range of evidence and data in various formats and from multiple sources of ILK for the assessment itself; appropriately engaging indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs) in the review of draft assessments; and “giving back” knowledge and insights to IPLCs once the assessment is concluded, as well as capacity-building activities.
Joji Cariño, Forest Peoples’ Programme (FPP), agreed with the need for early inclusion of ILK holders, including at the conceptual level, both as authors and key reviewers. She emphasized existing local institutions on ILK and the need to increase their capacity. On the participatory mechanism, she underlined the need to conduct targeted calls to avoid receiving only “random” submissions. She referred to the Local Biodiversity Outlook as an example of meaningful knowledge contribution from IPLCs.
In the breakout group, many participants emphasized the benefits of a bottom-up approach and involving IPLCs early on. In this regard, they welcomed the proposed face-to-face dialogue workshops at the scoping stage and identified the development of relevant questions as crucial.
Participants also recognized that large-scale involvement at the local level poses challenges and that IPBES will therefore depend on strategic partnerships, such as with: the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI); the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the UN University. One group emphasized the need for financial support to ensure IPLC participation vis-à-vis stronger and well-established institutions. Another participant stressed the need to avoid any harm from releasing traditional knowledge.
The facilitators of the breakout groups reported back to plenary. Mitlacher explained that stakeholders will have meetings every morning during IPBES-5 to discuss whether and how to engage with deliberations on various agenda items. He thanked participants for their contributions and closed the meeting at 4:20 pm.
IN THE CORRIDORS
The Stakeholders Day opened with a sense of anticipation, as over 150 participants came together to discuss their involvement in IPBES, and ways to enhance their contribution. Noting that this was the first time that the Open-ended Network of IPBES Stakeholders organized Stakeholder Day, some pointed to the increasing relevance and effectiveness of stakeholders in the IPBES process. Many also appreciated Executive Secretary Larigauderie’s remark that stakeholders are key to the dissemination and use of IPBES products.
On IPBES’s upcoming work, several participants agreed with Robert Watson’s plea against launching other assessments this year. As he noted, “with six assessments already underway, we should not stretch our capacity and budget beyond that which is necessary.” Others, however, pointed out that assessments are the best argument for IPBES to convince donors to contribute with additional resources, especially for the ground-breaking work, such as the planned assessment on the diverse conceptualization of the multiple values of nature.
After the breakout sessions, one participant expressed his excitement on IPBES’ work on ILK systems. “A collective understanding of such systems has never been achieved before,” he said. But another cautioned against premature enthusiasm given IPBES’ limited resources, explaining that “prudence rather than ambition should guide work on this sensitive and challenging issue.”