Environment ministers meeting in Nairobi to discuss remit for Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services panel
Environment ministers from around the world will meet this week in Nairobi, Kenya in an attempt to finalise plans for a new independent biodiversity panel that could help shape global environmental, economic and trade policies.
The formation of an Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) was agreed as part of last year’s Nagoya biodiversity summit where global leaders agreed to step up efforts to protect biodiversity and ecosystem services.
The independent panel of scientists is modeled on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and will be given the task of providing detailed reports on the scale of biodiversity loss and building on the work of the influential UN Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity report, which sought to put an economic value on the environmental services habitats provide, such as clean air, water and soils.
However, ministers are facing calls from scientists to allow the new panel to also offer guidance on how policy measures are likely to affect biodiversity.
Writing in the journal Science last week, a group of four scientists, Charles Perrings, Anantha Duraiappah, Anne Larigauderie and Harold Mooney, called on ministers to give the new panel the task of modeling the “likely consequences of alternative policy options” to help politicians select policies that have limited biodiversity impacts.
Speaking to Reuters, the scientists noted how a more thorough scientific assessment of the likely impacts of recent biofuel policies may have identified earlier that increased demand for energy crops is contributing to deforestation, biodiversity loss and food shortages.
In related news, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) released its annual Year Book report late last week, which focused on the way plastic waste and fertiliser run-off are “choking the world’s oceans”.
The report warns that the twin threats are resulting in significant economic as well as environmental costs, estimating that the charges associated with phosphorus pollution in the US alone top $2bn (£1.2bn) a year.
“The phosphorus fertiliser and marine plastic stories bring into sharp focus the urgent need… to catalyse a global transition to a resource-efficient green economy,” said UNEP executive director Achim Steiner.
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