The IPBES core glossary provides a standard definition for important terms of broad applicability to IPBES outputs. This core glossary does not replace the assessment-specific glossaries, but is complementary to them. It was developed by a glossary committee established for this purpose.

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Term Definition
Water security

The capacity of a population to safeguard sustainable access to adequate quantities of and acceptable quality water for sustaining livelihoods, human well-being, and socio-economic development, for ensuring protection against water-borne pollution and water-related disasters, and for preserving ecosystems in a climate of peace and political stability.
Water stress

Water stress occurs in an organism when the demand for water exceeds the available amount during a certain period or when poor quality restricts its use.


A perspective on a good life that comprises access to basic resources, freedom and choice, health and physical well-being, good social relationships, security, peace of mind and spiritual experience. Well-being is achieved when individuals and communities can act meaningfully to pursue their goals and can enjoy a good quality of life. The concept of human well-being is used in many western societies and its variants, together with living in harmony with nature, and living well in balance and harmony with Mother Earth. All these are different perspectives on a good quality of life.

Western science

(Also called modern science) Western scientific knowledge or international science is used in the context of the IPBES conceptual framework as a broad term to refer to knowledge typically generated in universities, research institutions and private firms following paradigms and methods typically associated with the ‘scientific method’ consolidated in Post-Renaissance Europe on the basis of wider and more ancient roots. It is typically transmitted through scientific journals and scholarly books. Some of its central tenets are observer independence, replicable findings, systematic scepticism, and transparent research methodologies with standard units and categories.

Diaz et al. 2015. “The IPBES Conceptual Framework — Connecting Nature and People.” Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 14: 1–16. doi:10.1016/j.cosust.2014.11.002

Areas that are subject to inundation or soil saturation at a frequency and duration, such that the plant communities present are dominated by species adapted to growing in saturated soil conditions, and/or that the soils of the area are chemically and physically modified due to saturation and indicate a lack of oxygen; such areas are frequently termed peatlands, marshes, swamps, sloughs, fens, bogs, wet meadows, etc.


Worldviews defined by the connections between networks of concepts and systems of knowledge, values, norms and beliefs. Individual person’s worldviews are moulded by the community the person belongs to. Practices are embedded in worldviews and are intrinsically part of them (e.g. through rituals, institutional regimes, social organization, but also in environmental policies, in development choices, etc.).