Neil Palmer/CIAT.

WLE researchers nominated for IPBES assessments

In February, the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) announced a call for experts to assist in drafting assessments of the state of biodiversity and ecosystem services at the global and regional levels. In June, seven CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) researchers were selected for positions on the assessment teams.

“These nominations underscore the strength of WLE’s ecosystem services-based research, and the integral role of agriculture as a provider and beneficiary of ecosystem services”, says Fabrice DeClerck of Bioversity, co-leader of WLE’s Ecosystem Services and Resilience research theme.

“This will be an important opportunity for our scientists to both share and learn from these global assessments, while strengthening connections with existing national partners from our regional programs.”

The WLE scientists who have accepted positions are:

  • Fred Kizito, CIAT, Africa Assessment
  • Fabrice DeClerck, Bioversity, Africa Assessment
  • Chris Dickens, IWMI, Africa Assessment
  • Jerome Duminil, Bioversity, Africa Assessment
  • Natalia Estrada Carmona, Bioversity, America Assessment
  • Sonali Senaratna, IWMI, Co-Chair Asia and Pacific Assessment
  • Ephraim Nkonya, IFPRI, Land Degradation Assessment

Established in 2012, IPBES contributes to the science-policy interface on the topics of biodiversity and ecosystem services, similar to the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The assessments are being launched following the third session of IPBES, held in Bonn, Germany in January, during which governments approved proposals by scientific experts to carry out a global and five regional assessments of biodiversity and ecosystem services, and advance work on two thematic assessments: land degradation, and pollination and pollinators associated with food production.

WLE researchers have been highlighting the importance of production landscapes to ecosystem services and human well-being. Agricultural lands now cover over 40% of the global land surface area, thus forming the largest terrestrial biome. They are the ecosystem at the center of human livelihoods. Agriculture and the environment have been presented as diametrically opposed because, in most cases, the former has destroyed natural habitats and the ecosystem services they provide.

However, an increasing body of research, including WLE’s, is showing that agricultural landscapes can also be important providers of these services. Thoughtful design and management of biodiversity and ecological processes in fields and farms can produce and enhance multiple benefits upon which humans depend – such as the production of nutritious foods, clean water, and other regulating and cultural services – while also contributing to conservation.

The assessments will touch on a number of topics that are central to WLE’s work including analyses on changes in agricultural biodiversity and the water-food-energy nexus. In doing so, they draw attention to the large, but often underemphasized, role that agriculture plays in influencing biodiversity and contributing to ecosystem service delivery. Three years have been allocated to complete the assessments in time for 2018.