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Summary report, 21–26 January 2013

1st Session of the IPBES Plenary

The first session of the Plenary of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES-1) met from 21-26 January 2013, in Bonn, Germany. Over 500 participants attended the meeting, representing IPBES member and non-member governments, UN organizations and conventions, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, and various stakeholder groups.

Although some issues remained unresolved, including rules of procedure on the admission of observers, delegates left the snowy city of Bonn with a feeling of accomplishment, celebrating concrete achievements such as the election of the IPBES Chair, Bureau and Multidisciplinary Expert Panel (MEP), the adoption of an initial budget, and agreement on steps toward the development of an initial IPBES work programme.

Delegates lauded the spirit of cooperation and dedication displayed at the historic first plenary of IPBES. They felt optimistic that now fully operationalized, IPBES would be ready to bridge the science and policy gap to tackle challenges related to biodiversity and ecosystem services.


The initiative to hold consultations regarding the establishment of an IPBES emerged from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) follow-up process, and the outcomes of the International Mechanism of Scientific Expertise on Biodiversity (IMoSEB) process.

MILLENNIUM ECOSYSTEM ASSESSMENT: From 2001 to 2005, the MA assessed the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being, involving the work of more than 1,360 experts worldwide. Published in 2005, the MA outcomes provide the first state-of-the-art scientific appraisal of the condition and trends in the world’s ecosystems and the services they provide, as well as the scientific basis for action to conserve and use them sustainably. In 2006, the eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP) in Curitiba, Brazil, adopted a decision on the MA’s implications for the work of the CBD, in which it encourages parties, inter alia, to use the MA framework for sub-global and national assessments. In 2007, UNEP conducted an evaluation of the MA and initiated the MA follow-up process.

IMOSEB PROCESS: The proposal for a Consultative Process towards an IMoSEB was initiated at the Paris Conference on Biodiversity, Science and Governance, held in January 2005. The proposal received political support from then French President Jacques Chirac and the French Government. A consultative process was launched, with an International Steering Committee, an Executive Committee and an Executive Secretariat entrusted to the Institut Français de la Biodiversité, which was established to support and facilitate discussions.

The International Steering Committee met for the first time in Paris, France, in February 2006. Participants concurred that the current system for linking science and policy in the area of biodiversity needed improvement. A number of case studies were developed in 2006, while the idea for an IMoSEB was discussed at a number of events, including at CBD COP 8, and a workshop on “International Science-Policy Interfaces for Biodiversity Governance” in Leipzig, Germany, in October 2006.

At the second meeting of the International Steering Committee, in December 2006, the Executive Committee reported on the results of the case studies and identified a series of “needs and options.” A document outlining key ideas, entitled “International Steering Committee Members’ Responses: ‘Needs and Options’ Document,” was prepared by the Executive Secretariat and distributed in January 2007. The document was designed to assist participants during a series of regional consultations. Six regional consultations were held between January 2007 and May 2008.

The final meeting of the IMoSEB International Steering Committee was held from 15-17 November 2007, in Montpellier, France. The meeting reviewed the outcomes of the regional consultations and further discussed the needs and options for an IMoSEB, as well as how to improve the science-policy interface for biodiversity at all levels. In its final statement, while not recommending the formation of a new institution, the International Steering Committee agreed to invite donors and governments to provide support for the further and urgent consideration of the establishment of a science-policy interface. It further invited the Executive Director of UNEP and others to convene a meeting to consider establishing such an interface.

IPBES CONCEPT: In response to the IMoSEB outcome, UNEP convened an Ad Hoc Multi-Stakeholder Meeting on an IPBES. The Government of France, in close consultation with experts in their personal capacity, drafted a concept note on the rationale, core mandate, expected outcomes, focus areas and operational modalities of a possible IPBES, which was made available for peer review and subsequently revised.

The IMoSEB outcome and the IPBES concept note were also considered in 2008 by CBD COP 9. In Decision IX/15 (follow-up to the MA), the COP welcomed the decision of the UNEP Executive Director to convene the Ad Hoc Intergovernmental and Multi-Stakeholder Meeting on an IPBES, and requested the CBD Ad Hoc Working Group on Review of Implementation to consider the outcomes.

IPBES-I: The first Ad Hoc Intergovernmental and Multi-Stakeholder Meeting on an IPBES was held from 10-12 November 2008, in Putrajaya, Malaysia. Participants adopted a Chair’s summary, which recommended that the UNEP Executive Director report the meeting’s outcomes to the UNEP Governing Council (GC-25) and convene a second meeting. The summary contained two additional recommendations: to continue exploring mechanisms to improve the science-policy interface on biodiversity and ecosystem services for human well-being and sustainable development; and that UNEP undertake a preliminary gap analysis to facilitate the discussions, to be made available to the UNEP GC.

UNEP GC-25/GMEF: The 25th meeting of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GC-25/GMEF) (February 2009, Nairobi, Kenya), adopted Decision 25/10 calling for UNEP to undertake a further process to explore ways and means to strengthen the science-policy interface on biodiversity. In response to the decision, UNEP invited governments and organizations to participate in an open peer review of the preliminary gap analysis on existing interfaces on biodiversity and ecosystem services. These comments were incorporated in the final gap analysis.

IPBES-II: At this meeting, held from 5-9 October 2009, in Nairobi, Kenya, participants exchanged views on the major findings of the gap analysis, options to strengthen the science-policy interface, functions of an IPBES and possible governance structures. Participants adopted a Chair’s Summary of Outcomes and Discussions, which highlighted areas of agreement and reflected the differing views expressed during the meeting. Most delegates expressed support for a new mechanism that carries out assessments and generates and disseminates policy-relevant advice, and emphasized the importance of capacity building and equitable participation from developing countries.

UNEP GCSS-11/GMEF: The 11th Special Session of the UNEP Governing Council/GMEF (February 2010, Bali, Indonesia) adopted a decision calling on UNEP to organize a final IPBES meeting.

IPBES-III: At this meeting, held from 7-11 June 2010, in Busan, Republic of Korea, delegates discussed whether to establish an IPBES, and negotiated text on considerations for the platform’s functions, guiding principles and recommendations. They adopted the Busan Outcome, agreeing that an IPBES should be established and be scientifically independent, calling for collaboration with existing initiatives on biodiversity and ecosystem services. It was also agreed that the UN General Assembly (UNGA) be invited to consider the conclusions of the meeting and take appropriate action for establishing an IPBES.

UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY: UNGA Resolution 65/162 requested UNEP to fully operationalize the platform and convene a plenary meeting to determine the modalities and institutional arrangements for the platform at the earliest opportunity.

UNEP GC-26/GMEF: This meeting, held from 21-24 February 2011, in Nairobi, Kenya, adopted Decision 26/4, which endorsed the outcome of IPBES-III and called for convening a plenary session for IPBES to determine the modalities and institutional arrangements of the platform.

1ST SESSION OF PLENARY FOR AN IPBES: The first session of the plenary meeting on IPBES met from 3-7 October 2011, at UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya. Delegates considered the modalities and institutional arrangements for an IPBES, including: the functions and operating principles of the platform; legal issues relating to the establishment and operationalization of the platform; the work programme of the platform; and the criteria for selecting host institutions and the physical location of the secretariat.

2ND SESSION OF PLENARY FOR AN IPBES: The second session of the plenary meeting on IPBES took place from 16-21 April 2012 in Panama City, Panama. Delegates considered the modalities and institutional arrangements for an IPBES, including functions and structures of bodies that might be established under the platform, rules of procedure, and the work programme of the platform. Delegates selected Bonn, Germany as the physical location of the IPBES Secretariat, and adopted a resolution establishing IPBES.


On Monday morning, Nick Nuttall, UNEP, welcomed participants to the meeting. Ursula Heinen-Esser, Parliamentary State Secretary, German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, thanked participants for supporting the decision to locate the IPBES Secretariat in Bonn, and announced that the German government would support IPBES with €1 million per year and the establishment of an IPBES coordination office.

Jürgen Nimptsch, Mayor of Bonn, welcomed IPBES to Bonn as the newest member of the Bonn-based UN family.

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner thanked the German government and organizations involved in setting up IPBES. He highlighted support for IPBES from the 65th session of the UN General Assembly and the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20) held in June 2012, calling for moving beyond the design elements to action. He then opened the meeting.


STATUS OF THE MEMBERSHIP OF THE PLATFORM: In Monday’s plenary, UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner reported that 105 states are currently members of IPBES.

ELECTION OF OFFICERS: In Monday’s plenary, delegates elected the following Bureau members: Alfred Apau Oteng-Yeboah (Ghana) as Vice-Chair, Fundisile Goodman Mketeni (South Africa) as other Bureau member, and Ali Daud Mohamed (Kenya) as alternate, for the African Group; Asghar Mohammadi Fazel (Iran) as alternate Vice-Chair, Yoo Yeon Chul (Republic of Korea) as other Bureau member for the first half of term and alternate for the second half of term, and Jay Ram Adhikari (Nepal) as other Bureau member for the second half of term and as alternate during the first half of term, for Asia-Pacific; Leonel Sierralta Jara (Chile) as Vice-Chair for the first half of term and other Bureau member during the second half of term, Spencer Thomas (Grenada) as Vice-Chair for the second half of term and other Bureau member for the first half of term, Adalberto Luís Val (Brazil) as alternate Vice-Chair for the first half of term and alternate other Bureau member during the second half of term and Lilian Ferrufino (Honduras) as alternate other Bureau member for the first half of term and alternate Vice-Chair for the second half of term, for the Latin America and the Caribbean Group (GRULAC); Ivar Andreas Baste (Norway) as other Bureau member for Western Europe and Other States, noting that this group is consulting on alternates; and Sergey Trepelkov (Russian Federation) as Vice-Chair for the first half of term, Senka Barudanović (Bosnia and Herzegovina) as Vice-Chair for the second half of term, Adem Bilgin (Turkey) as other Bureau member for the first half of term, and Ioseb Kartisivadze (Georgia) for the second half of term, for Eastern Europe. On Friday, plenary elected the two alternate members of the Bureau for Western Europe and Other States: Idunn Eidheim (Norway) and Gilles Boeuf (France).

On Monday, delegates noted that both Zakri Abdul Hamid (Malaysia) and Robert Watson (UK) had been nominated to be Chair, and that a final decision was pending. Achim Steiner announced that Alfred Apau Oteng-Yeboah (Ghana) would act as session Chair, and Leonel Sierralta Jara (Chile) as rapporteur, in anticipation of the final composition of the Bureau.

On Friday, session Chair Oteng-Yeboah presented the outcome of the Bureau’s consultations with members and regional groups on the IPBES Chair, and proposed a rotation system for the two nominated candidates, with Zakri serving as Chair first, and Watson taking over in the second half of the Bureau’s term. Liberia, for the African Group, and Mexico, for GRULAC, expressed dissatisfaction with a rotation system. Azerbaijan, for Eastern Europe, and Denmark, for Western Europe and Other States, supported the proposal. Nepal, for Asia-Pacific, called for more time to consider the proposal. Session Chair Oteng-Yeboah expressed hope that the meeting would reach consensus in order to avoid a vote. Plenary revisited the issue in the afternoon, but no progress was made. GRULAC asked for more time, and the issue was deferred to allow further consultation among the five UN regions.

On Saturday, GRULAC informed the plenary that the regions had reached consensus after late night consultations on an agreement with the following elements: the Platform will have one Chair for a period of three years; there will be an opportunity for re-election of the Bureau members for one consecutive term; Zakri will be Chair and Watson Vice-Chair for the first three-year term; and Western Europe and Other States will provide the next Chair. Denmark added that it was also agreed to note in the report of the meeting that it would be the Vice-Chair of this region who would take the next term of office. The plenary accepted the proposal, with session Chair Oteng-Yeboah concluding that the deal was “signed, sealed and delivered.”

IPBES Chair Zakri briefly addressed the plenary, stating that he felt honored to be the first Chair of IPBES. He highlighted the importance of having an independent body of scientists established by world governments on biodiversity and ecosystem services, and added that the greatest test will be the scientific credibility of the Multidisciplinary Expert Panel (MEP). Chair Zakri thanked session Chair Oteng-Yeboah for chairing IPBES-1 until that moment, and Vice-Chair Watson for his dedication to IPBES over the years, naming him “the de facto architect of IPBES.”

IPBES Vice-Chair Watson congratulated Chair Zakri for his election and emphasized the independence of IPBES as a vital precondition for its contribution to the sustainable management of biodiversity and poverty alleviation.

ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA AND ORGANIZATION OF WORK: On Monday, delegates adopted the meeting’s agenda (IPBES/1/1 and Add.1) and organization of work (IPBES/1/INF/1) without amendment.


RULES OF PROCEDURE FOR MEETINGS OF THE PLENARY: Discussions on the issue were held in plenary on Monday and in a contact group that met throughout the week. In Monday’s plenary, Neville Ash, UNEP, introduced the relevant documents (IPBES.MI/2/9, Annex I, Appendix II; IPBES/1/3; and IPBES/1/INF/2/Rev.2, INF/3, INF/4, INF/5 and INF/6), explaining that bracketed texts in IPBES/1/3 also reflected comments received in the intersessional process.

The US, Switzerland, Argentina, Thailand, China, Japan, Fiji, the International Council for Science (ICSU) and a representative of indigenous peoples and local communities stressed the role of observers within IPBES. Brazil, Malaysia, Bolivia, Argentina, China, Turkey and the Republic of Korea supported decision-making by consensus. Bolivia highlighted the importance of a non-commercial view and decentralized approach to biodiversity.

Ireland, on behalf of the EU’s IPBES members, and supported by Thailand and the Republic of Korea, called for full and active membership of regional economic integration organizations (REIOs). The European Commission noted full membership of REIOs will bring experience and resources to IPBES. Venezuela opposed, questioning if this would provide some states double representation.

Honduras encouraged a participatory approach within IPBES. Nigeria, Guatemala and a representative of indigenous peoples and local communities highlighted the need to ensure indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ involvement. Colombia urged the development of protocols that promote free prior informed consent (FPIC) of indigenous peoples and local communities and respectful treatment of acquired data.

Palestine called for support to facilitate its membership in IPBES. Speaking for the biodiversity-related conventions, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) encouraged partnership with IPBES in reaching the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. On behalf of the Stakeholder Group that met immediately prior to IPBES-1, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), supported by ICSU, called for IPBES to consider a strategy on stakeholder participation. A business and industry representative encouraged IPBES to consider the business community as a resource and partner.

On Tuesday, session Chair Oteng-Yeboah established a contact group on the rules of procedure, co-chaired by Robert Watson (UK) and Leonel Sierralta Jara (Chile).

On Wednesday morning, the contact group discussed the link between the MEP and the Bureau, including the Bureau’s observer status within the MEP. Delegates agreed that initially all ten Bureau members will have observer status within the MEP, and that this issue will be revisited after an interim period, no longer than two years. Co-Chair Watson proposed, and delegates accepted, a three-year term for MEP members, with the possibility of re-election. On MEP chairmanship, delegates agreed the MEP should have the flexibility of organizing its own processes to fulfill its programme of work, including election of its Chair(s). Co-Chair Sierralta Jara suggested the MEP develop its own rules of procedure, but debate remained open. 

On Wednesday, debate continued on the responsibilities of the MEP and the MEP Chair, including whether formal written procedures were needed for its operation. For the sake of transparency, and noting that all international bodies have some written procedures, some delegates encouraged written procedures. Co-Chair Watson stated that the MEP will have clearly specified terms of reference, determined by the plenary, to guide its work. No agreement was reached. Delegates agreed, however, to delete text on how the MEP Chair should conduct his or her work during MEP meetings.

Delegates continued to address, inter alia, decision-making procedures, in particular how to proceed when consensus is not reached, and how to differentiate between substantive and procedural issues, and which strategy to follow if that distinction is controversial. They agreed that in the absence of consensus, a two-thirds majority would suffice for making decisions, and discussed reporting procedures to reflect this outcome, noting applicable language from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on the approval, adoption and acceptance of respective reports; and CBD text that refers to the role of the Chair and voting members on matters of procedural or substantive nature. Delegates expressed the need to guarantee democratic processes and avoid “hijacking of an issue by one member.”

The contact group agreed that modification to the rules of procedure requires consensus, and that proposed modifications should be submitted to all IPBES members eight weeks prior to the session at which they will be discussed, unless the plenary decides otherwise. They also discussed accreditation procedures for observer groups, notably indigenous peoples and local communities.

On Thursday, Co-Chair Watson reintroduced to the contact group the issue of pending membership of the European Union (EU) to IPBES as a REIO. Several delegates inquired about voting practicalities to ensure double voting would not occur. Delegates expressed concerns regarding proxy voting of absent members, and possible “enhanced participation rights” since the EU spans two UN regions. Co-Chair Watson suggested parties discuss the matter intersessionally and at IPBES-2. Co-Chair Sierralta Jara reminded delegates to consider REIO membership in a larger context than the EU case alone.

On Friday, the contact group discussed, inter alia, procedures for revising and amending the agenda, noting that members should receive the agenda in advance and send revisions to the Secretariat. Delegates confirmed that IPBES members from specific UN regions provide their MEP nominees, in consultation with observer organizations as they see fit, and agreed on the need to balance flexibility and guidance, allowing the MEP to develop its own regional structure, while providing criteria to encourage gender balance and a focus on multidisciplinarity.

On Saturday, the contact group agreed that the term of office of the Bureau Chair should be three years, without re-election as Chair but possible re-election to the Bureau as a member. They agreed that Bureau members will be elected for a three-year term, with the possibility of re-election. With regards to MEP guidelines, delegates continued discussion on whether specific text should be included on issues such as gender balance, multidisciplinarity and the effective participation of scientists from developing countries. However, they decided to allow flexibility in the MEP’s interim period, and revisit the issue at a later stage. They also debated if the MEP should develop a code of practice or conflict of interest procedures; while taking note of this suggestion, no such provision was included. Delegates agreed that if the dates and venue of the next meeting are not decided by the plenary, the Bureau should decide and inform members.

In Saturday’s evening plenary, Co-Chair Watson presented the revised rules of procedure (IPBES/1/CRP.8/Rev.1). The US noted the need to distinguish between rules already adopted in Panama and rules newly adopted in Bonn. Co-Chair Watson noted that bracketed text remains in several of the rules of procedure with regard to the pending membership of REIOs, stating this issue will be addressed in the intersessional period and at IPBES-2. Regarding the rule on admission of observers, Co-Chair Watson indicated that this text had not been discussed in the context of this document, as delegates had not reached agreement on the document on a policy for admission of observers (IPBES/1/CRP.7). He clarified that this issue will be carried forward to IPBES-2. Concerning guidelines for nomination and selection of the MEP members, Co-Chair Watson said that delegates had decided to revisit this issue at IPBES-2. Argentina urged the plenary to consider the universal principle of geographic representation in the context of these guidelines.

Final Decision: The plenary adopted the Rules of Procedure for the Plenary of the Platform (IPBES/1/CRP.8/Rev.1) with bracketed text on, inter alia, REIO membership, admission of observers and guidelines for the nomination, selection and election of the MEP.

ADMISSION OF OBSERVERS: In Monday’s plenary, session Chair Oteng-Yeboah introduced the agenda item on admission of observers (IPBES/1/4). Norway expressed the need to ensure open and easy access for observers. ICSU stated observers should feel welcome and supported to contribute. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) suggested following the example of other UN bodies, which have already addressed this issue. Session Chair Oteng-Yeboah suggested that the contact group on rules of procedure also address the admission of observers. Argentina, supported by Brazil, China, Mexico and Ecuador, but opposed by Norway and Switzerland, felt the issue should be addressed by the plenary rather than by a contact group.

The contact group on rules of procedure, co-chaired by Robert Watson (UK) and Leonel Sierralta Jara (Chile), addressed the admission of observers throughout the week. On Thursday, debate centered on text stating that applicants for observer status to IPBES plenary sessions should submit to the Secretariat “evidence of the legal status” of their organization. Many felt this would be inhibitive for some indigenous peoples and local communities. Delegates debated how to circumvent this problem while maintaining the requirement for other categories of observers, and agreed on text entrusting this issue to the discretion of the Secretariat, “as appropriate.” Delegates also worked on language to ensure that invitations extended by the Secretariat to observers to attend sessions of the plenary would not carry an implication of financial support, amending text to read “notifications” instead of “invitations,” noting that any text with financial implications would have to be addressed during discussions on the budget.

Delegates addressed rejection procedures. Delegates agreed the Bureau should approve initial applications, but final authority rests with the plenary, with delegates divided between a consensus vote and two-thirds majority.  Logistical concerns were raised for observers initially approved, but rejected at a later point. No agreement was reached.

On Friday morning, Co-Chair Watson informed the plenary that while “significant progress” was made on several issues regarding the admission of observers, discussion continued. He flagged that this could have implications for IPBES-2.

On Friday, the contact group agreed to procedures on admitting states that are not members to IPBES. Agreement was not reached on admission procedures for observers granted provisional observer status by the Bureau, but facing potential rejection by the plenary. Delegates were still divided between consensus and a voting procedure. Delegates discussed how this could influence new observers at upcoming IPBES meetings. Co-Chair Sierralta Jara reminded delegates that as IPBES grows, more observers will apply. Several delegates suggested the plenary discuss this issue at IPBES-2. Co-Chair Watson suggested, and delegates agreed, to request the UNEP legal advisor to examine language used in Panama with regard to admittance of observers and consult with the UN Office of Legal Affairs.

On Friday afternoon, Co-Chair Watson reported to plenary. China reflected on the contact group’s lack of consensus on admission of observers, suggesting an interim arrangement for IPBES-2 to accommodate new observers. Session Chair Oteng-Yeboah said the Bureau would reflect on this proposal.

On Saturday, the contact group remained divided between piloting a consensus approach on a trial basis or following the same procedures used at IPBES-1 for IPBES-2, wherein UNEP procedures for admission of observers were followed. It was agreed that observers admitted to IPBES-1 would automatically be admitted to IPBES-2, but debate remained on implications for new observers. Delegates discussed granting a provisional mandate to the Bureau, in consultation with UNEP, to address potential rejections of observer applications, acknowledging the need for a procedure to communicate about this to other members. Co-Chair Watson stated it does not lie within the Bureau’s mandate, in the absence of appropriate rules of procedure on this matter, to decide whether or not to overrule members’ objections to observer applications. He urged delegates to try to “unblock” the discussion.

In the final minutes of deliberation, delegates agreed to an interim approach regarding admission of observers for IPBES-2. It was suggested that: observer applications should be received 12 weeks prior to IPBES-2; the Bureau makes the first selection of observers; the Bureau sends the list to IPBES members eight weeks in advance; members review the list, with the possibility of one member objecting to an observer; the rejection of an observer should be returned to the Bureau at least two weeks in advance; the Bureau then informs the observer; if other members disagree with the rejection, they can vote in plenary to override the rejection, which is granted if at least one-third of the members disagree with the rejection. China preferred a two-thirds majority of the plenary to override a rejection. Delegates in the contact group agreed to this last-minute suggestion, pending consultation with their capitals. They noted it would be valid only for IPBES-2, with Co-Chair Watson remarking that it provides a middle ground “in the spirit of compromise.”

During the evening plenary, Co-Chair Watson announced that while progress had been made, delegates had not reached consensus on critical paragraphs on rejection procedures, and thus the entire document (IPBES/1/CRP.7) remains bracketed. He presented the interim approach for IPBES-2. Argentina noted the interlinkage between the different paragraphs. The US indicated general acceptance of the suggested approach, highlighting that current observers will automatically be accepted to IPBES-2 and in the future. Co-Chair Watson indicated general agreement on this temporary solution. IPBES Chair Zakri endorsed this outcome, noting that it would be discussed again at IPBES-2 and during the intersessional period.

Final Decision: The policy for admission of observers to the plenary of IPBES (IPBES/1/CRP.7) was adopted entirely in brackets.


On Monday, the Secretariat introduced the related documents (IPBES/1/2 and 5, IPBES/1/INF/8, INF/9, INF/10 and INF/14, and the Catalogue of Assessments on the IPBES website). These were addressed in plenary on Monday and Tuesday. A contact group was established, co-chaired by Zakri Abdul Hamid (Malaysia) and Ivar Andreas Baste (Norway), which met on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. On Saturday, plenary finalized discussions on these topics, resulting in one decision on next steps required for the initial work programme, the role of the MEP in the initial work programme, possible institutional arrangements for its implementation, and a second decision focusing on the procedure for receiving and prioritizing requests put to IPBES.

NEXT STEPS REQUIRED FOR THE PREPARATION OF THE INITIAL WORK PROGRAMME: In Monday’s plenary, Mexico highlighted the need for holders of indigenous knowledge to provide FPIC when this knowledge is used, and stressed the importance of finding the balance between the four functions of IPBES: knowledge generation, assessment, policy support and capacity building. Supported by Ireland on behalf of the EU’s IPBES members, Mexico subscribed to the key messages of the informal expert workshop (IPBES/INF.9) on main issues relating to the development of a conceptual framework.

Thailand highlighted that the work of IPBES should be demand-driven. Ireland, for the EU’s IPBES members, expressed continued support for a bottom-up approach to assessments and a common conceptual framework. He supported an additional expert and stakeholder meeting be held to further develop the conceptual framework and suggested a task force or other structure be established to further develop the work on capacity building. He also noted the reference to the role of and collaboration with IPBES in CBD decisions XI/2 (review of progress in implementation of national biodiversity strategies and action plans and related capacity-building support to parties) and XI/3 (monitoring progress in implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets).

Japan stressed the need to clarify the roles of the Bureau and the MEP, and called for scoping exercises. He announced that his country would be willing to host a workshop in this regard. Supported by Guatemala, Japan also stated the need to develop synergies between scientific and indigenous knowledge, so long as indigenous rights are respected, and stressed the need for regional scientific assessments and internal capacity building. Norway, supported by the US and Guatemala, felt that the establishment of IPBES’s first work programme should be prioritized. Norway also suggested developing a biodiversity assessment for use within the CBD context.

Bolivia emphasized that the conceptual framework for IPBES should include cultural, spiritual and political elements, and respect human rights as well as the rights of Mother Earth. He further cautioned against the commercialization of biodiversity. Brazil urged that capacity building be included in the list of possible key programme deliverables and outputs.

On Wednesday, the contact group discussed a paragraph on preparing draft work programme elements for the period 2014-2018. Discussion centered on the roles of the Secretariat, the MEP and the Bureau in this process, and which information should be compiled for use in the development of the elements of the work programme. Some delegates suggested that rather than prepare the initial work programme, the Secretariat should gather, and perhaps synthesize, information. Several preferred the MEP to develop the work programme, in consultation with the Bureau. There was debate about deleting the reference to the governing bodies of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), with some delegates stressing that this would be a loss, since MEAs can provide relevant scientific information.

On Thursday, the contact group agreed to refer to the work on knowledge systems in the text on the conceptual framework, in order to ensure that those issues are considered in developing the framework. The group agreed that the MEP should develop a draft conceptual framework and recommend possible procedures and approaches for working with different knowledge systems by IPBES-2. These activities should be based, among other things, on the outcomes of two workshops to be convened: one to gather input for the draft conceptual framework, and another on different knowledge systems.

On the stakeholder engagement strategy, debate focused on which stakeholders to specify in the text. The group agreed to invite IUCN and ICSU to work with, among others, relevant stakeholders to prepare a draft stakeholder engagement strategy, and to request the Secretariat to present a revised version for adoption by IPBES-2.

On possible strategic partnerships, Ireland for the EU’s IPBES members noted, and delegates agreed, that the Bureau rather than the Secretariat should, in consultation with the MEP, provide guidance for strategic partnerships with academic scientific institutions, MEAs and UN organizations.

On the potential future regional structure and composition of the MEP, delegates agreed that the Secretariat would compile all views and comments received to redraft the document on the regional structure and composition of the MEP (IPBES/1/INF/7). They also agreed that the MEP would work with the Bureau to review the document and make recommendations to plenary at IPBES-2.

On Friday, delegates discussed whether the MEP should consult with the Bureau on the draft scoping process that it is to prepare in the intersessional period, before making recommendations to IPBES-2. After some debate, delegates agreed that this would not be necessary, leaving the matter up to the discretion of the MEP Chair. They also agreed that the MEP’s draft document on the scoping process, as well as its draft document on procedures relating to reports and deliverables, would be forwarded to IPBES-2 for “consideration,” rather than “adoption.”

In addressing the potential future regional structure and composition of the MEP, delegates agreed to include new text requesting the Secretariat to acknowledge nominees to the interim MEP for their candidature, and requesting the Bureau and the Secretariat to include these nominees on an expert roster to ensure their expertise is available for the future work of IPBES.

Delegates also agreed to request the Bureau to review the administrative procedure used in the selection of the interim MEP, to ensure effective consultation and balance, and request the current MEP to provide information on expertise that would be required for a future MEP.

On the work programme for 2014-2018, delegates agreed on text that requests the Bureau and the MEP to draft the work programme with sequenced and prioritized objectives, deliverables, actions and milestones for advancing the four functions of IPBES. They debated on whether to take special consideration of requests from MEAs and settled on “giving consideration to those by biodiversity-related MEAs.”

On Saturday, the plenary considered the initial work programme (IPBES/1/CRP.1/Rev.2). Australia asked for a note in the report of the meeting requesting the MEP to consider a code of practice for its work. The plenary adopted the document, taking these comments into account.

Final Decision:In the final document (IPBES/1/CRP.1/Rev.2), the plenary notes that the work under this decision will be performed by the Bureau, the MEP and the Secretariat, with each working within their respective roles and responsibilities. In addition, the plenary, among other things:

•  requests the MEP and the Bureau to develop a draft work programme for 2014-2018, noting relevant requests, inputs and suggestions submitted, including by giving consideration to those made by MEAs related to biodiversity and ecosystem services;

•  requests the Secretariat to submit the draft work programme with indicative cost estimates prepared in consultation with the Bureau to members, observers and stakeholders for their comments through an open process, and to compile the comments received for consideration by the MEP and the Bureau prior to IPBES-2;

•  requests the Secretariat to support the MEP in convening a multidisciplinary and regionally-balanced expert and stakeholder workshop, among other actions, to provide input on knowledge systems in developing the conceptual framework and other aspects of the work of IPBES;

•  requests the MEP to recommend possible procedures and approaches for working with different knowledge systems for consideration by IPBES-2, drawing on the inputs received;

•  requests the Secretariat to support the MEP in convening a multidisciplinary and regionally-balanced expert and stakeholder workshop, among other actions, to provide inputs to the development of a draft conceptual framework for IPBES;

•  requests the MEP to recommend a conceptual framework for adoption by IPBES-2 that effectively addresses the objective, functions and relevant operating principles of IPBES and the relationship among them; and

•  requests the Secretariat to open a widely publicized process of consultation, involving members, observers and stakeholders, on the draft stakeholder engagement strategy, and to present a revised version for consideration at IPBES-2.

PROCEDURE FOR RECEIVING AND PRIORITIZING REQUESTS PUT TO THE PLATFORM: In Monday’s plenary, Japan underlined the need for IPBES to respond to requests with consistency, with Mexico and South Africa supporting a standard format in this context. Ireland, for the EU’s IPBES members, supported by the US, South Africa, Brazil and China, highlighted the need to clarify the roles of the Bureau, MEP and/or plenary, with Switzerland underlining the scientific independence of the MEP.

Thailand emphasized the importance of requests from international organizations or bodies, while China favored prioritizing governmental requests. Colombia warned that requests should not inhibit other IPBES work. Noting the importance of transparency, IUCN suggested that future requests include information on how they have originated.

On Thursday and Friday, the contact group on the work programme reviewed the procedure for receiving and prioritizing requests put to the Platform (IPBES/1/5). Delegates agreed to request the Secretariat to contact the submitters of incomplete requests, asking them to provide additional information.

On Saturday, the plenary considered the issue (IPBES/1/CRP.6/Rev.1). Argentina, supported by Colombia, proposed adding text on “allowing some flexibility to MEAs regarding the deadline for submissions due to their internal meeting schedules.” Mexico highlighted the flexibility was already covered elsewhere in the document.

The plenary adopted the document, including the text suggested by Argentina.

Final Decision: In its decision on the procedure for receiving and prioritizing requests put to the Platform (IPBES/1/CRP.6/Rev.1), the plenary decides, inter alia, that:

•  governments and MEAs related to biodiversity and ecosystem services can send requests to IPBES on scientific and technical matters that require the Platform’s attention and action;

•  inputs and suggestions from UN bodies related to biodiversity and ecosystem services, as determined by their respective governing bodies, are also welcomed by IPBES; and inputs and suggestions made by relevant stakeholders, such as other intergovernmental organizations, international and regional scientific organizations, environment trust funds, non-governmental organizations, indigenous peoples and local communities and the private sector, will also be encouraged and taken into account, as appropriate;

•  in order to streamline requests sent to IPBES, the submission of requests by governments conveyed by MEAs related to biodiversity and ecosystem services through their governing bodies or scientific subsidiary bodies is encouraged; and the joint submission of requests by multiple MEAs through their coordination processes, for example the Biodiversity Liaison Group or the Chairs of the Scientific Advisory Bodies of the Biodiversity-related Conventions is also encouraged, allowing some flexibility to MEAs regarding the deadline for submissions due to their internal meeting schedules; and

•  requests that are submitted to IPBES will be accompanied by information on, among others, relevance and urgency.

ROLE OF THE MEP IN OVERSEEING THE PREPARATION OF THE INITIAL WORK PROGRAMME: In Tuesday’s plenary, many delegations stressed the need to guarantee the independence of the MEP and for the MEP to focus on science, leaving political considerations to the Bureau and the plenary. Ireland, for the EU’s IPBES members, supported by Brazil and Ethiopia, said the MEP should represent different knowledge systems and disciplines, and, supported by Chile, noted that regions not represented, such as the Antarctic and high seas regions, should be taken into account, when appropriate. Canada, supported by Colombia, highlighted the need to prioritize the activities of the MEP. Malaysia, supported by Thailand and South Africa, stressed the need for the plenary to provide the MEP with appropriate guidance, while assuring its independence.

Bolivia, supported by Peru, Chile, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil and Japan, highlighted adopting a regional network structure. Australia advocated integrating new regional structures with existing ones.

Fiji said scientific assessments should take into account local conservation efforts. Indonesia and Nepal stressed the need to ensure financial support for full participation of all members in the MEP. Mexico suggested separate MEP working groups to conduct assessments and support IPBES work on capacity building. The US said IPBES-1 should focus on the terms of reference for the MEP and its working groups, and, with Kenya, felt other issues can be addressed intersessionally. Japan identified capacity building as a priority of IPBES and called for a bottom-up approach. Ethiopia, supported by Malaysia, highlighted the need for developing countries to benefit from IPBES in terms of technology transfer and capacity building.

ICSU supported the tasks allocated to the MEP in the intersessional period before IPBES-2. The League of Arab States reported on a resolution accepted by Arab Ministers in December 2012 highlighting the importance of capacity building for biodiversity conservation and adequate facilitation for participation of all states in IPBES.

POSSIBLE INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE WORK PROGRAMME: In Tuesday’s plenary, many participants highlighted the importance of operationalizing IPBES as soon as possible. Norway, supported by Colombia, Peru and Chile, stressed that a decision on the establishment of working groups should follow a decision on the work programme, with Colombia, supported by Malaysia, highlighting that the proposed options for the establishment of working groups are not mutually exclusive. Côte d’Ivoire stressed the need to reduce overlap between the working groups. ICSU cautioned against establishing too many working groups, also suggesting membership should be guided by scientific excellence and policy relevance. India preferred working groups organized according to the four main functions of IPBES. The Republic of Korea stated knowledge generation and policy support are closely related.

Brazil, supported by South Africa and Indonesia, but opposed by India, supported regional structures for IPBES work. Bolivia, Costa Rica and Nepal supported a decentralized MEP structure. IUCN noted the Busan principle on collaboration with other organizations in order to expedite the IPBES work programme. The League of Arab States said the economic value of biodiversity has been underestimated in the Arab Region.


The plenary addressed this agenda item on Wednesday and Friday. On Wednesday, session Chair Oteng-Yeboah reported that the African Group had submitted to the Bureau its list of five MEP nominees. He said the other four regions were still finalizing their MEP nominee selection, and urged them to complete their nominations.

On Friday, the five UN regions presented their final MEP nominees, and all 25 were subsequently elected. Malaysia, for the Asia-Pacific, explained that the region had decided on a system of alternation, with three MEP members changing after the first year of the initial two-year period. Norway voiced disappointment with the under-representation of women and social scientists within the MEP, expressing hope that this election process would provide lessons for the future. Canada, supported by Grenada, suggested involving the nominees who had not been elected in the work of IPBES.

Final Decision: The plenary elected the following 25 MEP members: for the African Group: Jean Bruno Mikisa (Central African Republic), Moustafa Mokhtar Ali Fouda (Egypt), Sebsebe Demissew (Ethiopia), Callistus Akosim (Nigeria) and Rodger Lewis Mpande (Zimbabwe); for Asia-Pacific: Bojie Fu (China), Randolph Thaman (Fiji), Dedy Darnaedi (Indonesia), Mehrasa Mehrdadi (Iran), and Yousef Saleh Al-Hafedh (Saudi Arabia); for Eastern Europe: Tamar Pataridze (Georgia), András Báldi (Hungary), György Pataki (Hungary), Gunay Erpul (Turkey) and Nigmet Uzal (Turkey); for GRULAC: Sandra Myrna Díaz (Argentina), Carlos Alfredo Joly (Brazil), Edgar Selvin Pérez (Guatemala), Julia Carabias Lillo (Mexico) and Floyd M. Homer (Trinidad and Tobago); and for Western Europe and Other States: Mark Lonsdale (Australia), Eva Roth (Denmark), Paul Leadley (France), Philip Lyver (New Zealand) and Ann M. Bartuska (United States).


SECRETARIAT: On Tuesday, the Secretariat presented the joint proposal on administering the IPBES Secretariat by UNEP, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) (IBPES/1/7/Rev.1).

Salvatore Arico, UNESCO, on behalf of the four UN agencies, highlighted the suggested collaborative arrangements for administrative work including: a senior management group with administrative roles; management of the trust fund through the Multi-Partner Trust Fund office of UNDP; and recruitment of IPBES staff following UNEP rules.

Colombia, supported by Iran, Ethiopia, Liberia, Nepal, Uganda, Ecuador and Turkey, preferred linking IPBES to UNEP only, for reasons of efficiency. Switzerland acknowledged the added value of all four UN organizations, and suggested that UNEP be the lead agency. Nigeria, Colombia and Zimbabwe supported this option. Japan and Fiji said the proposal still lacked clarification on the type of support the UN agencies would provide.

Switzerland, supported by Ireland for the EU’s IPBES members, Norway and the US, requested clarification on the role of the management group comprised of senior staff from each of the organizations. Brazil requested clarification on the relationship between the different regional structures. Ireland, for the EU’s IBPES members, supported by Norway, found a decision on regional structures premature, and urged for the IPBES Secretary to be recruited as soon as possible. Fiji emphasized that the multidisciplinary nature of IPBES requires different expertise, noting different UN institutional strengths in different regions.

The US, supported by Nigeria, said it would be premature to decide on the composition of the Secretariat before a decision on the work programme has been taken. Argentina, supported by Japan, and opposed by Brazil and Ethiopia, requested that the plenary be engaged in the recruitment of the Secretary.

Caroline Petersen, UNDP, and Ibrahim Thiaw, UNEP, on behalf of the four UN agencies, clarified that UNEP would be responsible for staff recruitment in consultation with the other agencies and that the IPBES Bureau and the UN agencies would also be involved in the implementation of the work programme. They also proposed to change the name “management group” to “administrative oversight group.” Norway did not support the name change, saying it did not explain the purpose of involving senior management.

South Africa suggested a cost-benefit analysis of the joint proposal. Grenada, supported by Chile and Ethiopia, urged for the plenary to assign tasks to UNEP, with Ethiopia also requesting UNEP to proceed with the employment of the Secretariat. Argentina suggested establishing a Friends of the Chair group to discuss the issue.

In Thursday’s plenary, the Secretariat presented a draft decision on the IPBES Secretariat (IPBES/1/CRP.4/Rev.1). He noted that an additional paragraph, inviting UNEP to provide administrative arrangements for the Secretariat, was included to specify the leading role of UNEP among the four UN agencies.

Colombia, supported by many others, called for deletion of a paragraph requesting the UN agencies to provide institutional arrangements for the Secretariat, noting this point has been taken into account by requesting UNEP to initiate recruitment, in consultation with the other UN agencies. South Africa and numerous others preferred restructuring the document rather than deleting these elements, to reflect the importance of technical support from all four UN agencies. South Africa suggested compromise text requesting the three other UN agencies to support the institutional arrangements of IPBES and urging the UNEP Executive Director to initiate, as soon as possible, the recruitment of staff for the Secretariat.

Fiji emphasized that if the role of the other three UN agencies is undermined at this initial stage, garnering their support at a later stage would be difficult. Switzerland concurred, stressing there is no need to show which of them has overall responsibility.

Session Chair Oteng-Yeboah established a Friends of the Chair group, chaired by Luthando Dziba (South Africa), and also comprising Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, Nigeria, Brazil, Ireland and Norway, to reconcile the various views. The Friends of the Chair group met during the afternoon.

On Friday, Dziba reported that the group had decided to merge the draft decision on the IPBES Secretariat (IPBES/1/CRP.4/Rev.1) with the draft conclusion on the link between IPBES and the UN system (IPBES/1/CRP.5), resulting in a draft decision on “administrative and institutional arrangements.” He said the document now contains three separate sections on administrative arrangements, the trust fund, and institutional arrangements. He reported that the group would address the issue of the structure of the Secretariat in consultation with the informal open-ended group on the initial budget.

During the evening plenary, Dziba reported that the group had suggested that the plenary endorse UNEP to administer the funds for IPBES until a final choice is made between UNEP and UNDP with regard to the administration of the trust fund.

During the final plenary on Saturday, delegates adopted the decision on the IPBES administrative and institutional arrangements (IPBES/1/CRP.4/Rev.2) with no amendments.

Final Decision: In its decision (IPBES/1/CRP.4/Rev.2), the plenary takes note of the joint proposal for administering the Secretariat of IPBES submitted by UNEP, UNESCO, FAO and UNDP.

On institutional arrangements, it requests the four UN agencies to establish an institutional link with IPBES through collaborative partnership arrangements for the work of IPBES, and requests UNEP to support the IPBES Secretariat on policy and programmatic matters.

On administrative arrangements, the plenary invites UNEP to provide administrative arrangements for the IPBES Secretariat in accordance with the rules of UNEP. The plenary requests the UNEP Executive Director to: recruit the head of the Secretariat as soon as possible; finalize a host country agreement with Germany regarding the IPBES Secretariat in Bonn, make arrangements necessary for IPBES to operate with a functional Secretariat by the end of IPBES-2 and provide interim arrangements for the Secretariat until then; fill, through recruitment or secondment, the staffing posts of the Secretariat in an incremental manner subject to funds; and conduct regular performance appraisals. The plenary also invites UNESCO, FAO and UNDP to also second dedicated staff to the Secretariat.

On the trust fund, the plenary invites IPBES members to submit questions by the end of June 2013 to the Secretariat about the Multi-Partner Trust Fund Office or UNEP administering the IPBES Trust Fund; and requests UNEP to continue to receive financial contributions provided for the Platform.

LINK BETWEEN THE PLATFORM AND THE UN SYSTEM: On Tuesday, the Bureau established an open-ended informal group, facilitated by Spencer Thomas (Grenada), to discuss the link between IPBES and the UN system (IPBES/1/11). Delegates in the group discussed how to ensure the scientific independence of IPBES and the involvement of the four UN agencies with the work of IPBES, noting that the precise role of these agencies will need to be decided by the plenary. Delegates also discussed requesting the Bureau to continue this discussion and report to IPBES-2.

On Wednesday, Spencer Thomas informed the plenary that the group agreed on the need to ensure the scientific independence of IPBES and suggested the plenary further discuss this agenda item. Some delegates favored addressing the issue at a subsequent IPBES session, since no text proposal had been provided. The Secretariat clarified that a text proposal would be circulated later in the week.

On Thursday, the Secretariat presented to the plenary a draft conclusion on the link between IPBES and the UN system (IPBES/1/CRP.5). Delegates stated general approval of the text, noting that it is “appropriate at this meeting.” Many identified a connection between the draft conclusion and the draft decision on the IPBES Secretariat; it was agreed that both issues be addressed by the Friends of the Chair group established to address the draft decision on the Secretariat.

During the final plenary on Saturday, delegates adopted the draft conclusion with no amendments.

Final Conclusion: In its conclusion (IPBES/1/CRP.5/Rev.2), the plenary decides to further consider the link between IPBES and the UN system.


FINANCIAL PROCEDURES: On Tuesday, the Secretariat presented the relevant document (IPBES/1/6) to the plenary. Argentina questioned the basis for a 20% leeway that the Secretariat would have over the budget reallocation. The Secretariat responded that the budget had been lifted from the financial procedures of IPCC, which formed the basis of the current document. The US supported the budget, and noted that in-kind contributions should be subject to Memorandums of Understanding. Bolivia called for clarification on the form and possible sources of miscellaneous income.

On Thursday, the plenary discussed draft financial procedures for IPBES (IPBES/1/CRP.2). The Secretariat clarified that some aspects of the document are still under development. Ireland, for the EU’s IPBES members, Argentina, Japan and the US raised concerns about establishing a Financial Task Team, questioning, among other things, its necessity and efficiency.

Ireland, for the EU’s IPBES members, proposed that IPBES use the euro as its currency, following the practice of all UN agencies in Bonn, while the US suggested using the currency of the institution administering the trust fund. Bolivia proposed specifying that private contributions should not exceed public ones, with Argentina suggesting reference to Rule 203.3 of the Financial Rules of the Fund of UNEP, which states that voluntary contributions from non-governmental sources in excess of US$500,000 require prior approval of the Governing Council or subsidiary body.

The US suggested, among other things, that the Bureau instead of the plenary approve additional voluntary contributions, and expanding the definition of IPBES resources to include contributions by organizations that are not IPBES members or observers.

On Saturday, the plenary discussed the revised draft financial procedures (IPBES/1/CRP.2/Rev.1). Argentina, supported by the US, suggested that a Friends of the Chair group further discuss the matter, with the US highlighting that the plenary had not given it adequate consideration. Bolivia, Argentina and Ireland, for the EU’s IPBES members, highlighted that the comments made during IPBES-1 had not been included in the document, with Argentina suggesting that the Secretariat further revise the text to include all comments. Chair Zakri requested the Secretariat to do so, and referred the document to IPBES-2.

INITIAL BUDGET OF THE PLATFORM: On Tuesday, the Secretariat introduced the relevant document (IPBES/1/10) to the plenary. New Zealand, supported by Norway, Canada and Switzerland, acknowledged the need to budget multiple meetings for the Bureau and the MEP, especially in the early phase, but felt budgeted figures need to be clarified. Japan questioned whether efficiency could be improved through reducing travel and holding virtual meetings. With regard to staffing and salaries, Norway, supported by the US, suggested that the arrangements in place for the IPCC Secretariat be used as guidance.

Argentina asked for clarification regarding draft financial procedures, noting possible contradictions in various documents. The US pointed to high figures for certain activities, including outreach and communication, staffing and plenary costs. The Secretariat clarified budgetary figures, noting that plenary budgets reflect expenses of past meetings, and that staffing requests reflect the broad nature of IPBES activities.

In Thursday’s plenary, session Chair Oteng-Yeboah established an open-ended informal group on an initial budget for IPBES (IPBES/1/CRP.3), chaired by Spencer Thomas (Grenada). This group met in the evening.

On Friday, Thomas informed the plenary that the group had addressed contributions, meetings in 2013 and staffing, concluding that more information was required and contributions from parties for 2013 were welcome.

China, France, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Norway, the US, Finland, the UK, Canada, Sweden, South Africa, New Zealand and Chile made pledges, with the EU stating it had contributed to IPBES in the past, and would contribute again once it becomes a member of the Platform.

Session Chair Oteng-Yeboah announced that the informal open-ended group on the budget would be transformed into a contact group, to be chaired by Spencer Thomas (Grenada) and Ivar Andreas Baste (Norway).

On Saturday, the contact group discussed a revised draft decision on the status of contributions and an initial budget for the Platform for 2013 (IPBES/1/CRP.3/Rev.1). Delegates discussed the staffing of the Secretariat, debating creating an organogram based on the nine posts suggested in the budget, and appropriating interim staffing for 2013 based on available funds and the work programme. Many delegates cautioned that any hierarchy should be accompanied by a description of roles and tasks. Debate focused on whether the UNEP Executive Director or IPBES should specify the posts, and whether the head of the Secretariat should be P5- or D1-level position.

Finally, delegates agreed that the Secretariat should comprise eight staff members: a head, three programme officers, an associate programme officer and three administrative staff. They also called for language clarifying that this is an interim Secretariat, with the possibility of changes in the future. They also recommended the immediate recruitment of the Head of the Secretariat and asked for clarification on when the Secretariat would begin its work. The Secretariat confirmed that all intersessional work has so far been delivered by an interim Secretariat for IPBES, and that the new staff will begin its work at IPBES-2.

Addressing other elements of the budget, delegates agreed to reduce the amount specified for monitoring and evaluation from US$80,000 to US$20,000, noting that the work programme was in its initial stages. They also questioned the allocation of US$100,000 for outreach and communication. The Secretariat explained that the bulk of this allocation had already been spent on documentation and reporting services for IPBES-1.

In the afternoon, delegates agreed to refer to “anticipated income” rather than “pledges” to include projected contributions that have not been announced as pledges. They urged that the Bureau be involved to consider the budget implications of the recruitment process of Secretariat staff.

On the status of cash and in-kind contributions to IPBES, delegates noted: Germany’s cash contribution of US$600,000 for 2012 and in-kind contribution of US$400,000 for 2013; and the anticipated carry-over of funds from 2012 to 2013 of approximately US$1.8 million, subject to finalization of the 2012 expenditure report.

Regarding the budget for 2013, delegates debated on the possibility of earmarking contributions as an exception to the rules of procedure, particularly for contributions intended to support meetings. On the staffing of the Secretariat, delegates agreed to allocate funds for the immediate recruitment of five out of the eight staff members suggested for the Secretariat: the head, two programme officers and two administrative staff. They noted that funds may be set aside for contractual staff, but preferred staff seconded from other UN agencies to fill available positions.

During the final plenary on Saturday, delegated adopted the draft decision on the status of contributions and initial budget for the Platform for 2013 with minor amendments.

Final Decision: In the decision (IPBES/1/CRP.3/Rev.2), the plenary:

•  takes note of the status of cash contributions, anticipated income and in-kind contributions to support the Platform;

•  invites pledges and contributions to the trust fund from governments, UN bodies, the Global Environment Facility and others;

•  approves the proposed budget for 2013, which amounts to approximately US$3.1 million;

•  requests the Secretariat to work with the Bureau to report back on expenditures for 2013 and develop the budget for 2014 to be considered at IPBES-2;

•  requests the Bureau to provide oversight of strategic resource commitments to be made to the Secretariat and encourage potential donations to support IPBES work;

•  decides to review staffing at IPBES-2; and

•  requests the Secretariat in consultation with the Bureau to develop a draft process for the review and evaluation of the Platform’s efficiency and effectiveness.


The Secretariat recalled the ambition formulated prior to IPBES-1 that IPBES-2 be convened in the second week of December 2013, with the exact dates and venue to be determined. Several delegates preferred postponing IPBES-2 to early 2014 to allow more time for preparation, with some pointing out implications for the initial budget for 2013. IPBES Chair Zakri suggested, and delegates agreed, that the Bureau, the Secretariat and the MEP will take these concerns into consideration, and inform members on the date and venue of IPBES-2 at a later date.


On Saturday, Rapporteur Leonel Sierralta Jara (Chile) introduced the draft report of IPBES-1 (IPBES/1/L.1). On the election of officers of the Bureau, Ireland requested that the report reflect the agreement that the Vice-Chair of Western Europe and Other States will become the next Chair of the Platform. Delegates also suggested amendments: underlining the continuation of observer status for observers present at IPBES-1; and noting that the MEP may wish to develop a code of practice for its members to ensure the highest scientific integrity in its work. With regard to the MEP’s chairmanship, Argentina requested that its concern be noted “for the absence of the principle of geographic representation and rotation, as it is a fundamental principle of multilateralism, and for the unwillingness of the plenary to incorporate it.”

Delegates adopted the report with these amendments.


South Africa, on behalf of the G-77/China, congratulated newly-elected Chair Zakri, Vice-Chair Watson, and session Chair Oteng-Yeboah, thanking them for their long commitment to IPBES. Ireland, on behalf of the EU’s IPBES members, acknowledged satisfaction with progress made at IPBES-1, but disappointment that the EU’s membership as a REIO remains unresolved, noting lost opportunities in terms of funding and experience. Benin, on behalf of the African Group, highlighted the need for funding support to allow African delegates to play a vital role in IPBES, noting the wealth of biodiversity in Africa. Norway, on behalf of JUSCANNZ, congratulated Chair Zakri and acknowledged Vice-Chair Watson’s long commitment to the concept of an international panel of biodiversity experts. Japan encouraged the prompt establishment of the IPBES Secretariat to initiate intersessional work. China acknowledged the significant progress made in Bonn. Azerbaijan thanked the Secretariat and the host country, Germany. Mexico, on behalf of GRULAC, stated that IPBES is now a member of the international community. Fiji reaffirmed its support to IPBES, noting its dependency on biodiversity as a small island state. Germany thanked the Chair and the UNEP Secretariat, noting that the progress made in Bonn laid a good foundation for establishment of the Secretariat.

IUCN recognized the stakeholder engagement strategy and stated its readiness to contribute to the intersessional process. The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands expressed satisfaction with the observer status afforded to the Chairs of MEA scientific bodies, noting elements of strategic partnership among biodiversity-related conventions. The Indigenous Information Network welcomed the inclusion of indigenous and local knowledge, but expressed concern on the absence of indigenous knowledge holders in the MEP.

Ibrahim Thiaw, UNEP, stated that UNEP is happy to shoulder the extra responsibility allotted to it, in collaboration with UNESCO, FAO and UNDP, thanked donor countries and encouraged new contributions. IPBES Chair Zakri reminded delegates that after many years of developing IPBES, the hard work has just begun. He closed the meeting at 7:25 pm.


After celebratory opening speeches acknowledging the historic establishment of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services (IPBES), delegates to IPBES-1 settled into a week of intense work in snow-covered Bonn to get IPBES up and running. Many brought years of experience from other MEAs, enthusiasm and an “incredible sense of cooperation,” as one delegate put it. These proved to be helpful assets, as there were numerous items to be addressed in order to build the institutional foundation required for IPBES to become operational. The IPBES Chair, members of the Bureau and the Multidisciplinary Expert Panel (MEP) were elected. Delegates also agreed to a strategy for developing a first work programme for 2014-2018, and moved forward on rules of procedure, financial procedures, and institutional arrangements for the Secretariat.

Lingering contentious issues, however, were transferred to IPBES-2, ensuring the intersessional period will not be quiet. Delegates could not agree on the membership of regional economic integration organizations (REIOs) such as the EU, nor on a policy for admission of observers. The “IPBES baby,” as it was referred to, “has been born,” but it still needs to be nourished and guided as it grows.

This brief analysis will contextualize IPBES within the larger biodiversity regime, focusing on how the MEP can best be equipped to carry out its important task and how interrelationships with other bodies may impact its work. It will also reflect on the road ahead as IPBES aims to bridge science and policy to address biodiversity and ecosystem services.


The main raison d’être for an IPBES from the onset was to give biodiversity issues more weight at the global level. Acknowledging that biodiversity-related information and knowledge is currently scattered over many organizations and research institutions, IPBES is expected to draw on multiple sources in developing assessments in much the same way as IPCC has. This will inevitably include developing working relationships with those already active in this area including MEAs, UNEP’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

It was also clear from the start, however, that IPBES would aim to go further than IPCC, playing a role not just in conducting assessments, but also in, inter alia, capacity building and bringing together different knowledge systems, such as the scientific community and other knowledge holders. The extent to which the IPBES can evolve to play this complex role depends largely on the manner in which it is positioned in the international system. There were three agenda items that pertained to this issue at IPBES-1: the procedure for receiving and prioritizing requests put to the Platform, administrative and institutional arrangements, and the link between IPBES and the UN system.

IPBES-1 agreed that only governments and MEAs related to biodiversity and ecosystem services can make “requests” to the Platform, with UN bodies and other stakeholders only providing “inputs and suggestions.” This implicitly focuses the attention of the IPBES on the MEAs, although no explicit prioritization was agreed to at the meeting. With CBD decision XI/2 inviting the IPBES “to develop a work programme that includes the preparation of the next global assessment on biodiversity and ecosystem services, to be launched in 2018, […] including the CBD Strategic Plan and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets […],” the focus seems to be further narrowed down to the CBD, considering the huge amount of work that would be involved in such an endeavor. This leaves current main players in international biodiversity knowledge in somewhat of a peculiar position vis-à-vis IPBES, although they could of course collaborate with organizations that did receive the authority to submit requests in order to influence the work programme of the MEP.

The outcome of the discussions on administrative and institutional arrangements has not clearly shaped the relationship of IPBES with the UN system. IPBES-1 has only in a general manner requested the four UN organizations—UNEP, UNESCO, FAO and UNDP—to play a role in IPBES’s institutional set-up. It is still unclear what practical implications will arise from this. The administrative relationship with UNEP has been more clearly defined, but this mostly concerns practical matters related to the Secretariat. The IPBES-1 inconclusive decision to “further consider the relationship between the Platform and the UN system” does not help to further shape these links.

This, together with the fact that the UN organizations cannot make requests to IPBES, could be regarded as a lost opportunity, since the broad area of work of the Platform, namely biodiversity and ecosystem services, touches upon the work of all four UN organizations. The global biodiversity crisis cannot be solved without, for instance, the participation of FAO, the organization mandated to address fisheries and forestry. On the other hand, the current relatively unspecified relationship does not have to inhibit IPBES and the UN organizations to work together—regardless of the formal relationships, the UN organizations by definition represent important partners for IPBES in the implementation of its work.

So, has IPBES, at its first plenary, made progress to become the main knowledge authority on biodiversity and ecosystem services? Primarily, yes, it has laid a firm foundation, since the plenary positioned the Platform close to the MEAs related to biodiversity and ecosystem services. In this way, IPBES can develop further to serve as the main scientific informant of international biodiversity negotiations. On the other hand, however, IPBES-1 has not yet defined its relationship to the UN system, nor strengthened its ties with the larger international biodiversity-related community. This could potentially stand in the way of IPBES becoming the central player in biodiversity-related knowledge it aims to become.


The IPBES established the MEP as the body that will carry out its scientific and technical functions, including providing advice to the plenary on the programme of work and managing peer-review processes to ensure the highest levels of scientific quality, independence and credibility of all products from the Platform.

Delegates at IPBES-1 emphasized the need for the independence of the MEP, highlighting that this does not mean unguided freedom. In this regard, they recalled the agreement made in Panama that even though the plenary would determine the matters to be considered by the MEP, it would “organize itself as it considers appropriate.” In addition to the independence to set its own priorities of work, the MEP’s purely scientific mandate guards it from possible political interference.

Delegates considered a lean membership of 25 members (five from each UN region), with ten Bureau members as observers, a key element of an efficient MEP. This was cited as one of the shortcomings of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), meant to provide the CBD’s Conference of the Parties (COP) with advice on the implementation of the Convention. SBSTTA meetings, according to many delegates, have transformed into “mini-COPs,” attributed to their large attendance, which limits the possibility of in-depth work due to a large number of interventions.

The constitution of the MEP as it stands for IPBES-1 was a source of concern for many regions due to the fact that it fell short of its ideal to ensure different disciplines, types of knowledge and gender balance. It, however, now constitutes mostly male, natural scientists. Many delegates defended their choice of regional representatives saying regional representation was their priority at this first instance, admitting that the nominations for the Bureau took more time to negotiate. Others said that in any case, the MEP’s scientific capacity would be somewhat under-utilized, since the task for the MEP during the intersessional period is predominately to develop the work programme for 2014-2018.

However, envisioning the future MEP they want, delegates took great pains and left no stone unturned to ensure that future experts in the MEP will meet their ideal, by calling for a review of the procedures used in the selection of the interim MEP. This, they hope, will ensure effective, early consultation and coordination between regions on their provisional lists of nominees, as well as effective guidance from the current MEP on expertise that would be required for a future MEP.


Having dealt with some of the difficult and basic procedural requirements to ensure the functioning of the Platform’s Secretariat at IPBES-2, it is a common assumption that IPBES-2 will have a more substantive agenda: thus, the “baby would take its first delicate steps” into its core functions and begin meeting its objectives.

At this stage, however, it has been acknowledged that “pampering the baby” with gifts and investment in its future is necessary to ensure its health and build its confidence to meet its goals. With several specific and generic pledges made this week, it is clear that the commitment to IPBES shown through increased membership also translates into a sense of ownership and a willingness to contribute to the Platform, for the Secretariat, Bureau and MEP to begin the enormous task of operationalizing IPBES.

Whereas delegates recognize the potential of UN agencies as “foster parents” of IPBES, based on their experience, resources and interests in its success, a proposal still remains to be elaborated on how the four agencies would collaborate to bring IPBES up in the standards set for its upbringing. It was agreed that for the interim, as a child would need its mother the most at early stages, UNEP will take charge of its transition until IPBES-2, when its own Secretariat will be operational. The other UN agencies would, however, be consulted and asked to provide staffing, commit resources and resubmit information on how they propose to work together to support the administrative and institutional arrangements of IPBES. The real issue, after all, is not the nature of the institutional arrangements, but the degree to which the UN agencies are able and willing to feed into the Platform’s substantive work. While the feeling of the participants leaving IPBES-1 was that of optimism and relief, reflecting on the solid institutional foundation they had built, they also realized the intense intersessional work to be done before IPBES will be fully operational and can really start contributing to achieving the goals set by the international community for the Decade of Biodiversity.


First Global Meeting of Indigenous Peoples Forum: Organized by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and partners, this meeting aims to improve accountability and development effectiveness of IFAD’s programmes, consult on rural development, poverty reduction and participation.  dates: 11-12 February 2013  location: Rome, Italy  contact: IFAD  phone: +39-0654591  fax: +39-065043463 www:

UNEP GC/GMEF: The first universal session of the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum will convene in February.  dates: 18-22 February 2013  location: Nairobi, Kenya  contact: Secretary, Governing Bodies, UNEP  phone: +254-20-7623431  fax: +254-20-7623929 www:

CITES COP 16: The 16th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is scheduled to convene in March 2013.  dates: 3-14 March 2013  location: Bangkok, Thailand  contact: CITES Secretariat  phone: +41-22-917-81-39/40  fax: +41-22-797-34-17 www:

UNFF 10: The tenth session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF 10) will assess progress on the implementation of the Non-Legally Binding Instrument on All Types of Forests and achievement of its four Global Objectives on Forests.  dates: 8-19 April 2013  location: Istanbul, Turkey  contact: UNFF Secretariat  phone: +1-212-963-3401  fax: +1-917-367-3186 www: 

CGRFA 14: The 14th session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture will be preceded by a special event on climate change.  dates: 15-19 April 2013  location: Rome, Italy  contact: CGRFA Secretariat  phone: +39-06-5705-4981  fax: +39-06-5705-5246  email: www:

World Ocean Council “Sustainable Ocean Summit”: The World Ocean Council’s second Sustainable Ocean Summit (SOS 2013) aims to advance leadership and collaboration among the diverse ocean business community in addressing marine environment and sustainability challenges.  dates: 22-24 April 2013  location: Washington DC, USA  contact: Paul Holthus, World Ocean Council  phone: +1-808-277-9008 www:

International Conference on Forests for Food Security and Nutrition: The Conference is organized by the FAO and partners. Objectives include exploring policy options and improving information and technology to support the contribution of forests to food security, especially in developing countries.  dates: 13-15 May 2013  location: Rome, Italy  fax: +39-6-5705-5514 www:  

Twelfth Session of the Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues of the United Nations: This meeting will take place in May 2012.  dates: 20-31 May 2013  location: UN Headquarters, New York  contact: Secretariat of the Permanent Forum  phone: +1-917-367-5100  fax: +1-917-367-5102  email: www:

International Day for Biological Diversity 2013: The theme will be “Water and Biodiversity,” and coincide with the UN designation of 2013 as the International Year of Water Cooperation.  date: 22 May 2013  location: worldwide  contact: CBD Secretariat  phone: +1-514-288-2220  fax: +1-514-288-6588 www:

International Conference for International Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities Land and Sea Managers Network: This conference aims to build a strong foundation for an innovative and well-grounded international network.  dates: 27-31 May 2013  location: Darwin, Australia  contact: Australian Government Land and Coasts  phone: +61-2-6275-9659  fax: +61-2-6272-4526  email: www:

GEF 44th Council Meeting: The GEF Council meets twice per year to approve new projects with global environmental benefits in the GEF’s focal areas, and provide guidance to the GEF Secretariat and Agencies.  dates: 18-20 June 2013  location: Washington, DC, USA  contact: GEF Secretariat  phone: +1-202-473-0508   fax: +1-202-522-3240   email:   www: 

CBD WORKING GROUP ON ARTICLE 8(J): The eighth meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity will convene in October. dates: 7-11 October 2013  location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada  contact: CBD Secretariat  phone: +1-514-288-2220  fax: +1-514-288-6588 www: 

 CBD SBSTTA 17: At its 17th meeting, the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) of the Convention on Biological Diversity is expected to address issues related to marine and coastal biodiversity, biodiversity and climate change, and collaboration with IPBES.  dates: 14-18 October 2013  location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada  contact: CBD Secretariat  phone: +1-514-288-2220  fax: +1-514-288-6588 www:

19th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC): UNFCCC COP 19 and CMP 9 and the subsidiary bodies will convene in Warsaw, Poland.  dates: 11-22 November 2013  location: Warsaw, Poland  contact: UNFCCC Secretariat  phone: +49-228-815-1000  fax: +49-228-815-1999 www:

ITTC-49: The 49th Session of the International Tropical Timber Council (ITTC) and the associated sessions of the four Committees (Finance and Administration, Economic Information and Market Intelligence, Forest Industry, and Reforestation and Forest Management) are scheduled to take place in Libreville, Gabon.  dates: 25-30 November 2013  location: Libreville, Gabon  contact: ITTO Secretariat  phone: +81-45-223-1110  fax: +81-45-223-1111 www:

IPBES-2: IPBES-2 will take place in late 2013 or early 2014, with the dates and venue to be determined.  contact: UNEP Secretariat www:

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