An Exciting Introduction to IPBES

Thursday morning, a group of current and former GCE students, led by Professor Thomas Koellner, arrived at the World Conference Center in Bonn to observe discussions of the 3rd Plenary Meeting of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). The aim of this conference is to decide on a global framework for evaluating biodiversity and ecosystem services in the 123 IPBES member states by 2019. This evaluation will eventually include a global assessment as well as regional assessments for each of the UN regions and thematic assessments for four topics of particular interest – alien invasive species, sustainability, pollinators and food production, land degradation and restoration. It intends to provide guidance to policy makers concerned with combatting threats to biodiversity and ecosystem services.

But why are we, a group of Masters students, here after all? The GCE study programme has UN observer status, so throughout the next days we’ll be listening in on plenary discussions and debates within the smaller groups, which work on issues of budgeting, rules of procedure, communication, and outreach and the work programme per se. We’ll be learning how a myriad of national interests can (hopefully) be integrated through consensus decisions—as well as how to stay awake during the evening sessions without access to coffee, an important skill in our future careers!

In this blog, we’ll be discussing our impressions and insights into the proceedings at IPBES-3.

We were welcomed at the conference by Dr. Axel Paulsch, who consults the German delegation at IPBES, and also teaches a course to on The Convention on Biological Diversity and the IPBES to GCE students each year. For those who haven’t taken his course yet, he gave us an overview on IPBES history, and a quick introduction into “IPBES speak,” the aims of the current conference, and the procedures by which IPBES makes decisions.

We then sat in on our first session, a joint convention of the contact groups (i.e. subgroups dedicated to work on particular problems within the IPBES) ‘budget’ and ‘work program.’ After lunch in the adjacent UN building (overlooking Bonn from the 29th floor, with a river-view, no less), we attended afternoon sessions before continuing our own discussions in a local restaurant in the heart of Bonn.

–Henrike Schulte to Bühne

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