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Newly established IPBES elects its Chair

Bonn, 27 January 2013 | A new international science-policy platform on biodiversity and ecosystems, set up to assist governments and citizens to better understand the state, trends and challenges facing the natural world and humanity in the 21st century, recently put in place many of the administrative and staffing structures needed to implement its important work, including electing its first Chair.

Prof Abdul Hamid Zakri, Science Advisor to the Prime Minister of Malaysia and Chairman of the Malaysian Professors’ Council, was elected as Chair of the new Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). The first meeting of IPBES was held in Bonn, Germany last week, attended by over 500 delegates, including from most of the panel's 105 Member States. Prof Zakri was “truly honoured and most humbled to be elected as the first Chair of the Platform.".

The meeting also elected an international group of renowned experts, the Multidisciplinary Expert Panel (MEP), which will ensure the scientific credibility and independence of the IPBES work.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) will provide the Secretariat for the Platform, which will operate from Bonn in Germany. Delegates at the meeting requested UNEP, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to establish an institutional link with the Platform through a collaborative partnership arrangement for the work of IPBES and its Secretariat.

Even before IPBES can receive formal requests, expectations for the Platform are high. Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), when delivering a joint statement of the six biodiversity-related conventions said that, “by working closely together, IPBES and the conventions can support their common objectives of the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and maintenance of ecosystem services for human well-being.” The Conventions of the Parties (COP) to the CBD has already requested IPBES to contribute to the preparation of the next global assessment on biodiversity and ecosystem services, to be launched in 2018, and to help countries to implement the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and achieve the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. Similarly, requests have been made from the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) and the Ramsar Convention to support their work on the conservation and sustainable use of migratory species of wild animals and on wetlands respectively.

The meeting requested the development of a stakeholder engagement strategy for IPBES. It is expected that the scientific community, civil society, the business and industry sector, as well as representatives from indigenous peoples and local communities, will act both as contributors and end users of the Platform.

The next meeting of IPBES, IPBES-2, is provisionally scheduled for the end of 2013.

Further information

  • IPBES was established in April 2012 in Panama City, Panama, and currently has 105 Member States. The Platform is an independent intergovernmental body open to all member countries of the United Nations.
  • The four areas of work of IPBES are:
    1. To identify and prioritise key scientific information needed for policymakers and to catalyse efforts to generate new knowledge;
    2. To perform regular and timely assessments of knowledge on biodiversity and ecosystem services and their interlinkages;
    3. To support policy formulation and implementation by identifying policy-relevant tools and methodologies; and
    4. To prioritise key capacity building needs to improve the science-policy interface, and to provide and call for financial and other support for the highest-priority needs related directly to its activities.