IPBES at a Glance

  • Established in 2012 in Panama by over 100 governments as a mechanism to provide scientific information in response to requests from policy makers
  • Current membership includes 126 governments
  • Placed under the auspices of UNEP, FAO,UNDP, and UNESCO, and administered by UNEP

What is IPBES?

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is the intergovernmental body which assesses the state of biodiversity and of the ecosystem services it provides to society, in response to requests from decision makers. IPBES is placed under the auspices of four United Nations entities: UNEP, UNESCO, FAO and UNDP and administered by UNEP. Its secretariat is hosted by the German government and located on the UN campus, in Bonn, Germany. One thousand scientists from all over the world currently contribute to the work of IPBES on a voluntary basis. They are nominated by their government or an organisation, and selected by the MEP. Peer review forms a key component of the work of IPBES to ensure that a range of views is reflected in its work, and that the work is complete to the highest scientific standards.

IPBES mission

The mission of IPBES is to strengthen the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, long-term human well-being and sustainable development.

IPBES Operating Principles

In carrying out its work IPBES is guided by a number of operating principles including :

  1. Collaborate with existing initiatives on biodiversity and ecosystem services, including multilateral environment agreements, United Nations bodies and networks of scientists and knowledge holders, to fill gaps and build upon their work while avoiding duplication;
  2. Be scientifically independent and ensure credibility, relevance and legitimacy through peer review of its work and transparency in its decision -making processes;
  3. Use clear, transparent and scientifically credible processes for the exchange, sharing and use of data, information and technologies from all relevant sources, including non - peer-reviewed literature, as appropriate;
  4. Recognize and respect the contribution of indigenous and local knowledge to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystems;
  5. Provide policy relevant information, but not policy-prescriptive advice, mindful of the respective mandates of the multilateral environmental agreements;
  6. Integrate capacity-building into all relevant aspects of its work according to priorities decided by the Plenary;
  7. Recognize the unique biodiversity and scientific knowledge thereof within and among regions and the need for the full and effective participation of developing countries and balanced regional representation and participation in its structure and work;
  8. Take an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary approach that incorporates all relevant disciplines, including social and natural sciences;
  9. Recognize the need for gender equity in all relevant aspects of its work;
  10. Address terrestrial, marine and inland water biodiversity and ecosystem services and their interactions;
  11. Ensure the full use of national, subregional and regional assessments and knowledge, as appropriate, including by ensuring a bottom-up approach.

Why IPBES matters

  • Biodiversity and the ecosystem services it provides are being depleted at unprecedented rates. Every day, governments and other actors around the world are making decisions which affect the biosphere with profound implications for ecosystem services and human well-being.
  • The knowledge needed to shed light on the consequences at local, regional or global scales of these various decisions often lacks relevance, is incomplete and/or not accessible to decision makers.
  • IPBES contributes to bridging this gap by providing a mechanism recognized by both the scientific and policy communities to synthesize, review, assess, critically evaluate and deliver relevant knowledge generated worldwide by governments, academia, scientific organizations, non-governmental organizations and indigenous communities.
  • IPBES is unique in that it harnesses the power of the scientific community and other knowledge holding communities, in response to requests from decision makers, thus strengthening the dialogue between these communities, increasing the delivery of policy-relevant knowledge and, ultimately, catalyzing the formulation of knowledge-based policies.

IPBES functions

IPBES engages scientists and other knowledge holders around the world to review and assess the most recent scientific and technical information produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of biodiversity and ecosystem services. IPBES does not conduct any new research. The work of IPBES is centred around four complementary core functions:

How IPBES works

The IPBES Plenary is the decision making body of the Platform. It consists of Government Members and observers. The Plenary has appointed two subsidiary bodies: the Bureau and the Multidisciplinary Expert Panel, or MEP. The Bureau is responsible for overseeing administrative functions and consists of 10 Members (two from each UN region including one Chair and four Vice-Chairs). The MEP is responsible for carrying out the scientific and technical functions of the work programme. It consists of 25 members (five from each UN region, including two Co-Chairs and three Vice-Chairs). Meetings of the MEP can be attended by observers including members of the Bureau, chairs of the scientific bodies of biodiversity related multilateral environmental agreements, and the chair of IPCC.