5th IPBES Plenary kicked off in Bonn-Germany, March 07-10, 2017

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The fifth session of the IPBES Plenary held from 7-10 March 2017 in Bonn-Germany. The session was attended by more than 600 Government expert and development delegates including President ECOSF Prof. Dr. Manzoor Hussain Soomro. It provided guidance relating to the IPBES work programme, tackling subjects ranging from approaches to indigenous and local knowledge, to potential new IPBES assessments of biodiversity and ecosystem services and the next IPBES work programme for 2019 and beyond.

The session was opened by the Chair of IPBES and former Chair of the IPCCC Sir Robert Watson. In his remarks he said, “Successful climate action can never be at the expense of biodiversity, because stabilizing the climate is only possible over the long-term by ensuring the health and protection of biodiversity and ecosystems. This is why the scope of the four regional and the global IPBES assessments – all currently underway – include the relationships between biodiversity, ecosystem services and climate change.” Earlier, welcoming remarks were made by Ms. Anne Larigauderie, Executive Secretary of the Platform Secretariat.

Certain kinds of responses to global climate change pose serious risks to biodiversity and ecosystem services, which is why decision-makers need the best-available science when setting policy and allocating resources.” This was the keynote message on Tuesday from Prof. Guy Midgley, an expert on global change biology from the University of Stellenbosch (South Africa), addressing representatives of more than 100 Governments at the fifth annual Plenary session of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) in Bonn, Germany.

“Rapid changes in climate can damage ecosystems and accelerate biodiversity loss,” said Prof. Midgley. “This is one compelling reason to combat global climate change. What is less well understood, however, is how climate efforts with the best intentions – such as limiting the increase in global temperature to 1.5 degrees – might also harm biodiversity if not guided by careful analysis.

Stressing the point that biodiversity protection and effective action on climate change are not mutually exclusive, Prof. Midgley added that: “Protecting biodiversity can make substantial contributions to climate change mitigation and adaptation. Reducing deforestation in tropical regions, for example, is a high priority for protecting biodiversity and can make major contributions to climate mitigation, especially when combined with other efforts to reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses. But such objectives may be in conflict with needs to increase food security. New approaches, such as eco System based approaches to adaptation, could help to reduce such conflicts. The bottom line is that policymakers are required to balance several challenges, and need the best scientific evidence to chart the most sustainable course.”

Addressing IPBES delegates, the Deputy Executive Secretary of the UN Climate secretariat, Richard Kinley, remarked: “The policy frameworks for action on climate change and biodiversity are largely in place. Now, the overarching priority is accelerated implementation. The interrelation between climate change, biodiversity and human wellbeing is clear and compelling. Together we can generate extraordinary outcomes towards the safe and sustainable future envisioned in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals”.

In his message to the plenary session, Ashok Sridharan, the Mayor of Bonn and First Vice President of ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability said: “The United Nations is shaping a sustainable future in Bonn. When major challenges like climate change, land degradation and biodiversity loss are tackled in a holistic way in just one place, this helps solving conflicting issues and creates synergies. It is a Bonn specialty to pull these strands together. We are doing precisely that with IPBES and will surely continue to do so in November, when Bonn will welcome the 23th Conference of the Parties to the Climate Convention as well.”

Earlier to the plenary, IPBES Stakeholders day was held on 6 March, 2017 in which the IPBES scenarios and models expert groups organized the session with the objective of receiving input for improving the usefulness and relevance of future scenarios and models for decision makers across levels.

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