Mobilizing Data and Practical Knowledge for a Better Planet: UNDP at the IPBES-8 Forum

Posted On June 28, 2021

Attendees of the IPBES-8 Plenary

Photo:
UNDP/IPBES

As  the 8th Session of the Plenary of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services started this June, governments, academics, development partners and community organizations carried a sense of purpose and determination into the discussions. The alarm bells have been ringing for a while, and yet even with the mounting challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing was certain. The dichotomy between protecting nature and our own socio-economic well-being was no longer standing the test of time.

This reaffirming message comes at a critical juncture, but why should we listen to IPBES?

Data and evidence must underpin all our decisions and actions. IPBES has been one of the foremost organizations in the biodiversity and ecosystems space, establishing robust, objective and transparent data on the rapid loss of species and the destruction of ecosystems. Bringing together an extraordinary number of scientists, civil society and knowledge holders to the conversation from both science and humanities, IPBES has grounded itself as a platform for matching robust data with practical knowledge that can inform the right policies to protect, conserve and restore while not losing sight of human development and well-being.

Since its inception, UNDP has played a critical role in supporting the work of the IPBES Platform, thanks to the contributions of the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of Germany’s Federal Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety and SwedBio at Stockholm Resilience Centre. Speaking at the #IPBES8 opening session on behalf of four  UN collaborative partners, Anne Juepner, Director of UNDP’s Global Policy Centre on Resilient Ecosystems and Desertification, said, “The role of IPBES in mobilizing the best available evidence and knowledge on biodiversity and ecosystem services remains of profound value to the work of the UN as we explore how best to recover from this pandemic, and most importantly, how to prevent the next one.

The role of IPBES in mobilizing the best available evidence and knowledge on biodiversity and ecosystem services remains of profound value to the work of the UN as we explore how best to recover from this pandemic, and most importantly, how to prevent the next one.

Anne Juepner, Director of UNDP’s Global Policy Centre on Resilient Ecosystems and Desertification

How can IPBES, its knowledge and its partners help us in our path to forge a new relationship with nature?

A series of IPBES’s global, regional and thematic assessments from 2016 into the present, focus on identifying the underlying causes and drivers of our changing ecosystems and their  services. With UNDP’s support and partnership with UNEP-WCMC and UNESCO, 12 countries around the world are lifting a page from these global studies and working hard at their national ecosystem assessments to inform all policymaking.

From ecosystem conservation to climate policies and socio-economic planning, the evidence outlined in the assessments can form the backbone for decisions.

For example, a new report, the first of its kind, released by IPBES and the IPCC this month, highlights that the growing impacts of climate change and the loss of biodiversity may be far more intricately linked, than previously suspected. Ecosystem restoration presents one of the quickest and most cost-effective ways of combating climate change. Breaking silos and investing in nature-based climate solutions can help us de-risk some of the threats that inadvertently may be set off with climate mitigation efforts like bioenergy crops, irrigation, fertilization, etc.

The future of biodiversity has direct implications for food security, access to water and health. Thus, it must be at the core of our discourse on  how we recover from the pandemic and how we achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. IPBES is currently undertaking the nexus assessment that looks precisely at these links. Hand in hand with other ongoing  assessments, including the ways we can bring about indispensable transformative change, IPBES’s work directly informs UNDP’s support to countries and communities, and our commitment and action for the post-2030 global biodiversity framework. We have undeniable evidence that climate change and biodiversity loss mutually reinforce each other, threatening progress made across the human development spectrum and this demands urgent, systemic change.

IPBES-8 has helped build momentum for the biggest multilateral commitment on biodiversity coming up later this year- the fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention for Biological Diversity (CBD COP15) in Kunming, China. Said Anne Juepner as she signed off, “We now know well, that we cannot act alone, that the solutions we seek are deeply interlinked, and that we must tie our biodiversity, climate, pollution, food and health agendas all together to develop a more circular and equitable economy.”