IPBES storyCEED plays leading role in IPBES

Many efforts are being made around the world to arrest and reverse the unfolding crisis of biodiversity decline. Front and centre in recent years has been IPBES (the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services), an independent, intergovernmental body designed to synthesise and analyse biodiversity information for decision-making. IPBES, as its name suggests, makes science and policy its central focus. Australia is making important contributions to IPBES via CEED – one of the world’s leading institutions working in this space.

Last month IPBES staged its Fourth Plenary Session in Malaysia at which it launched its first two products: a thematic assessment on pollinators, pollination, and food production; and the methodological assessment of scenarios and models of biodiversity and ecosystem services. CEED’s Brendan Wintle was one of the Coordinating Lead Authors on the scenarios and modelling assessment having joint responsibility for putting together chapter two: ‘Using scenarios and models to inform decision making in policy design and implementation’, one of the overarching chapters in the report. The chapter provides an overview of policy and decision-making contexts in which modelling and scenarios can be used. It sets the scene for subsequent chapters to identify the scenarios and models needed in these different contexts.

“This IPBES assessment found that while scenarios and models are commonly used to inform and support decisions at local scales, they are almost never used in any kind of structured way in big decisions at national scales and above,” says Associate Professor Brendan Wintle, from the University of Melbourne.

“There is a lot of scientific literature on using modelling and scenarios in decision-making processes, but this work does not seem to have made its way into real world applications at national to global scales.”

The assessment identified barriers to the use of decision support tools in environmental policy agenda setting, design and implementation. These range from a lack of appreciation among decision makers about the potential benefits of using models and scenarios, to a lack of willingness on the part of some modellers to properly engage in real-world decision-making and undertake relevant analyses.

While CEED has played a pivotal role in this landmark report, the centre has also contributed to many other aspects of IPBES including providing valuable input into its assessment processes. Several of our researchers have also been authors on IPBES reports and two of our early career researchers were selected as IPBES Young Fellows.

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Image: The Fourth Session of the Plenary of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in February 2016.