The rapid progress of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) was clearly demonstrated to attendees of the Europe and Central Asia plenary meeting in Basel 22-23 September. Whilst most attendees were government representatives, Dr Alan Feest from Ecosulis attended as a recognised researcher on the measurement of biodiversity.
IPBES was established in April 2012, as an independent intergovernmental body open to all member countries of the United Nations. The members are committed to building IPBES as the leading intergovernmental body for assessing the state of the planet's biodiversity, its ecosystems and the essential services they provide to society.
IPBES provides a mechanism recognized by both the scientific and policy communities to synthesize, review, assess and critically evaluate relevant information and knowledge generated worldwide by governments, academia, scientific organizations, non-governmental organizations and indigenous communities. This involves a credible group of experts in conducting assessments of such information and knowledge in a transparent way.
The range of concerns demonstrated at the meeting was very great, from the need to find anyone in the country who had heard of biodiversity (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakstan) to identifying how much biodiversity was left (Belgium and the Netherlands). This led to a series of fascinating discussions and the creation of many connections. One of these has resulted in the invitation for Alan Feest to give a lecture to the University of Hohenheim (Stuttgart) in December, relating to biodiversity measurement and assessment, and hopefully the creation of active research collaboration will result.
The meeting dinner was an opportunity for cementing these links and Alan found himself on a table with: one Serbian, one Turkish and two Greek ladies plus a Macedonian, an Albanian, and a Georgian. Since the head waiter was Macedonian the table received excellent service, especially in the drinks supply!
Basel was a beautiful, almost traffic free city, and the free Botanic Garden had the largest flower in the world to see, which was a highlight. Look out for announcements relating to IPBES and the linking to its twin programme IPCC http://www.ipbes.net/.