UN environment chief calls for planned biodiversity forum to ‘make a difference’

3 October 2011

Delegates met today to help set up a new United Nations body aimed at reversing the planet’s unprecedented loss of species and ecosystems as the UN environment chief called for the ideas behind it to be converted into action.

The delegates to the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) convened in Nairobi to agree upon the protocols necessary for establishing the body’s operational platform.

In his address to the meeting, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner urged delegates to hasten IPBES into action, determine how it will be run and where it will be located.

“This platform needs to work. It needs to make a difference,” he said. “And to do that it needs to be operationalized in a manner where the best science can be brought to bear on informing policy-making at the global, regional and national levels.”

Mr. Steiner pointed to four banners set up around the assembly hall in Nairobi, each bearing the words defining IPBES’ four overarching functions – “knowledge generation”, “assessment”, “policy support” and “capacity building”. He urged delegates to bear the four functions in mind in order to deliver “the highest standards possible.”

“Ensuring that IPBES is set up in a way which strengthens the scientific underpinning that addresses the ongoing and increasing declines in global biodiversity and the continuing degradation of ecosystem services will be vital,” he told those gathered.

IPBES, which aims to reflect the UN-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that has helped to catalyze government action on global warming, will foster the search for government action needed to reverse the accelerating degradation of the natural world and its species, which some experts put at 1,000 times the natural progression.


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