Global biodiversity panel gets green light

June 12, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Jun 12 – Plans for a scientific panel on biodiversity, similar to a Nobel-winning group on climate change, were approved by nearly 90 countries at UN-sponsored talks in South Korea, UNEP said Friday.

"The new body will bridge the gulf between the wealth of scientific knowledge — documenting accelerating declines and degradation of the natural world — and the decisive government action required to reverse these damaging trends," said the Nairobi-based UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, or IPBES, will carry out peer reviews of science emerging on biodiversity and ecosystems to ensure governments are receiving top-notch information and advice.

It will, in many respects, mirror the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which has helped catalyze global awareness and government action on climate change.

"The dream of many scientists in both developed and developing countries has been made reality," said Achim Steiner, UN under-secretary general and the head of UNEP.

"Indeed, IPBES represents a major breakthrough in terms of organizing a global response to the loss of living organisms and forests, freshwaters, coral reefs and other ecosystems."

After more than two years of negotiations, participating governments overcame differences on how to finance the platform, and on its role in building scientific assessment capacity in developing countries.

"The vision of ‘Green Growth’ should be shared in the international community," said Chan-Woo Kim, director general of the South Korean Environment Ministry, who chaired the meeting in Busan.

"The essence of this vision is to ensure environmental sustainability while pursuing development. For this to be realized, it is crucial to have a credible, legitimate, and policy-relevant understanding on biodiversity and ecosystem services."

The UN General Assembly in September will have to approve the decision to set up the biodiversity panel.

The decision must also be endorsed by environment ministers attending the UNEP Governing Council/Global Ministerial meeting in Nairobi in February 2011.


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