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IPBES Summary - and the future

IPBES concluded successfully last Saturday evening, meaning that we have a commitment from the Plenary to fund and move forward! At the moment, more than half of the budget has already been raised, as US$25.4 million has been pledged on behalf of Member States from a total of $43.5 required, in addition to many offers of ‘in-kind’ knowledge and support contributions on behalf of a range of stakeholders and observers. 
An incredibly ambitious Work Programme has been passed by the Plenary, with deliverables expected from the middle of 2014! This will essentially be the generic guidance document on how to conduct assessments worldwide, in every region, which is in itself an enormous undertaking. In addition to this, the scoping for fast track assessments were also approved for pollination; land degradation and restoration; invasive alien species, and scoping for thematic assessments on policy support tools for modelling biodiversity and ecosystem services; on the sustainable use of biodiversity; on agriculture, food security and biodiversity; and on migratory and transboundary species. This is a phenomenal amount of work for the 25 members of the Multidisciplinary Expert Panel, especially when we consider that alongside the assessments themselves there must be the coordination of a wider expert group that can contribute to this work programme, and other key deliverables important to the IPBES process such as capacity building activities must be started.
Interestingly, and perhaps somewhat alarmingly, there were two documents that the Plenary failed to pass: the Stakeholder Engagement Strategy (SES), and the contact group for the Work Programme also rejected the scoping document on support tools and methodologies regarding value, valuation and accounting of biodiversity and ecosystem services. At the last meeting of the Plenary in Antalya, the Chair, Prof. Zakri, announced that the Secretariat had decided to delay the decision on the SES’s adoption, which came as somewhat of a surprise to assembled stakeholders. The current and future role, responsibilities and rights of stakeholders in the IPBES process has unfortunately not been a smooth discussion point during Antalya, and the decision was made to leave these unresolved for now. The lack of a scoping report on value and valuation is also disappointing, as this document hoped to incorporate and ensure that non-monetary and other valuation perspectives would be taken into account as part of the holistic valuation methodologies that will underpin most assessments to come. Many changes were proposed to this document – including by our own ESSRG member Gyorgy Pataki – to reflect a more holistic approach and definition of “nature” and “value” than in the original scoping document. 
The following weeks will be crucial for the establishment and design of the working groups on the various assessments, and we hope to continue reporting to you…
Eszter Kovács Krasznai, Research Fellow at ESSRG