Vanessa Adams and Sugeng Budiharta are two early-career conservation scientists based at the University of Queensland and affiliated with CEED. Their science will soon be informing international efforts to save biodiversity as they have just been selected as Young Fellows of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
IPBES is an independent intergovernmental body established by the United Nations in 2012 to provide policy advice to governments to protect the world's precious biodiversity. To assist in this task, IPBES is enlisting the world's best conservation scientists to participate in its assessment processes. This includes recruiting talented early career researchers to participate in a Young Fellows Programme, harnessing the finest emerging talent in the international effort to save biodiversity, and building capability for the future.
Vanessa Adams is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow whose research applies economic concepts and social consultation to make on-ground conservation more effective and equitable between groups of stakeholders. Sugeng Budiharta from Indonesia is a Doctoral student studying how best to use available resources, from money to indigenous knowledge, to restore degraded forests in the tropics for biodiversity conservation and the delivery of ecosystem services. Both are skilled in spatial modelling and environmental decision science. When IPBES put out a call for early career researchers to join its assessment process, they saw it as a fantastic opportunity.
"Participating in the assessment as a Young Fellow allows me to connect my research directly with policy as well as providing me with a unique opportunity to work with leading global experts," says Vanessa.
Sugeng, pictured here at Wilis Mountain East Java, believes that globally important biodiversity areas like Indonesia, Peru and Madagascar are usually less represented in global forum. "These countries face huge challenges in conserving and restoring biodiversity and ecosystem services while boosting their economies," he says. "Yet, our capacities to meet these challenges are limited. The IPBES Young Fellows programme is a great opportunity to learn and contribute!"
However, putting your hand up and being selected are two different things. Around the world there were some 700 applications to the Young Fellows Programme. Of these around 450 were nominated. But the area in which Vanessa and Sugeng nominated, Land Degradation and Restoration, it was even more competitive. From a pool of more than 130 applicants, only seven candidates were selected to participate in the assessment as co-authors. Vanessa and Sugeng were two of these seven!
The next step for these two Young Fellows is a meeting with other 'Land Degradation and Restoration' IPBES assessment authors in Germany in September.
Getting through such a tough selection process is testament to Vanessa and Sugeng's skills. It's also reflective of CEED's international standing in the field of environmental decision science. Indeed, CEED has played an important support role throughout IPBES's short history, providing valuable input into many assessment processes (see Decision Point #61 LINK).
Other CEED researchers involved in IPBES include Associate Professor Brendan Wintle (Coordinating Lead Author on the use of scenarios and models to inform decision making), Dr Marta Pascual (Reviewer of the first draft of the scenarios and models chapter), Associate Professor James Watson (member of the Data and Knowledge taskforce), Assistant Professor Ram Pandit (Expert Group Member of Values and Valuation group, Lead Author on Asia Pacific regional assessment and Coordinating Lead Author on Land Degradation and Restoration). PhD student Maria Martinez-Harms was involved as a contributing author in the pollination assessment, providing a piece on mapping. Maria Martinez-Harms also played an important role by arranging for CEED to be an observing organisation of IPBES and coordinating two CEED reviews of the IPBES conceptual framework.