B. Sthapit/Bioversity International

IPBES regional assessments launched, highlighting risks to ecosystems

Global experts are sounding the alarm on biodiversity, as the sixth plenary session of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) meets in Colombia this week. The meeting coincided with the release of four regional assessments, all drawing attention to biodiversity challenges.

IPBES works to assess the state of biodiversity in the world, as well as assess the ecosystem services it provides. It was founded in 2012 to contribute to the science-policy interface on ecosystem services, similar to the work done by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) before it.

Since 2015, experts including WLE researchers have been engaged in drafting a series of regional and topical assessments. Announced at the third IPBES Plenary meeting in Bonn, Germany, the four regional assessments for Africa, the Americas, the Asia Pacific, and Europe and Central Asia, were released yesterday as part of IPBES 6.

Seven WLE researchers from the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), the International Centre for Agriculture in the Tropics (CIAT), the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and Bioversity International, have contributed to the Africa, Americas and Asia Pacific Assessments, as well as the global assessments of Land Degradation. WLE researchers served as  Lead Author on the African regional assessment and co-Chair of the Asia Pacific assessment.

“The four IPBES regional assessments are a really significant achievement at a global scale,” said Sonali Senaratna Sellamuttu of IWMI, who co-chaired the Asia Pacific regional assessment. “For the Asia Pacific, this landmark assessment clearly shows that the rich biodiversity of the region and the ecosystem services it provides underpin people’s well-being. The assessment is an important resource for decision makers and investors who will be able to make more informed decisions about the sustainable utilization of biodiversity and ecosystem services, while still delivering on development agendas."

WLE researchers have been highlighting the importance of production landscapes to ecosystem services and human well-being since the program’s inception. Agricultural lands make up a huge percentage of the world’s surface area, and agriculture is currently the largest cause of biodiversity loss and is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

“Our research and the assessments show that agriculture does not have to be diametrically opposed to ecological health and natural habitats for biodiversity; rather, agriculture is completely necessary for environmental and human health,” said Fabrice DeClerk of Bioversity International, who contributed to the Africa regional assessment. “Protecting biodiversity and using biodiversity in agriculture is the foundation for enhancing the benefits for people and the environment simultaneously, making conservation and agricultural productivity allies with shared ambition.”

Read summaries of the regional assessments.