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Interview on IPBES with John Scanlon from CITES


CITESIPBES is set up to respond to the needs of governments in the filed of biodiversity and ecosystem services, including through biodiversity-related MEAs.  How do you see that working in practice?

IPBES has the potential to do more than global assessments, which are not always as directly beneficial to countries in addressing daily decisions. Governments are taking on-the-ground biodiversity-related decisions and actions every day. Decisions taken by CITES authorities involve a structured scientific-policy interface though the interaction between national management and science authorities, which is built into the text of the Convention itself. This interface is critical to the success of CITES.  

IPBES could help governments strengthen their science-policy interfaces, including under CITES, and thereby help them take more effective decisions and actions on-the-ground. For example, it could improve access to relevant and credible scientific information and help catalyse research where it is most needed. It could also stimulate much needed capacity building for CITES authorities to enable them to more effectively collect, analyse, present  and use scientific information in their daily decisions, which are critical to ensuring that international trade in the 34,000 species covered by CITES is legal, sustainable and traceable.

IPBES could also respond to requests, such as for assessments and/or policy-relevant advice, conveyed to it by governments through CITES governing bodies. IPBES responses to these requests could enable CITES governing bodies to take even better-informed policy decisions and put CITES national authorities in a better position to implement those decisions.

What are the needs of the Convention that IPBES might best address?

IPBES could build upon and help scale up the Convention's efforts to build national capacity to undertake targeted national assessments, such as the scientifically based non-detriment findings under CITES, which are aimed at ensuring that Parties' trade under CITES is sustainable. This would be a win-win situation, with the building of science capacity directly supporting the implementation of the Convention.  It could also complement the Convention's further development of the CITES Virtual College and the UNEP led InforMEA, which is co-chaired by CITES.  

How do you see IPBES working with the Scientific Plant/Animal committees?

IPBES could involve the chairs of the scientific committees in its work, perhaps through further development of  its principles and rules and its institutional structure, for example through the participation for the CITES Animals and Plants Committees Chairs in the plenary and any scientific panels or working groups that are established. It may be worth noting that CITES science committees are comprised of experts appointed in their individual capacity by the Conference of the Parties.  Arrangements such as these could help ensure that IPBES supports and complements - and does not duplicate - the work of those committees.

How do you see IPBES help with creating synergies across MEAs and other organisations working in the field of biodiversity and ecosystem services?

IPBES has already helped create cooperation and synergies among the biodiversity-related conventions as is evident by their attendance, constructive contribution towards the discussions, and  the issuance of a joint statement at this meeting - as well as their intent to work collaboratively on a possible joint contribution to the next plenary meeting. The biodiversity-related conventions have already considered that they might make good use of the Biodiversity Liaison Group to help transmit requests that their governing bodies might be submitting to IPBES.  In relation to its global assessment work, IPBES might be in a position prepare future Global biodiversity assessments in consultation with all of the biodiversity-related conventions, including through accessing the vast amount of primary data on sustainable use that is collected by CITES.