By SCB-ES Board Members, Guy Pe'er
It’s -2C and snowing outside. The train system does not cordially support the timely arrival of people at the World Conference Centre in Bonn, but we still managed to gather: One day before the opening of the IPBES, about 100 people, generally aggregated under the term stakeholders, convene and try to shape their discussion and contribution to the first IPBES plenary.
Sitting at the same hall where governmental delegations will convene from tomorrow and on, and knowing that soon we will move to the back of the hall, we share the vision that IPBES is perhaps one of the most important global science-policy interfaces on environmental topics. We thus try to jointly shape a message that will help us in making our voices heard.
A diversity of people, shared by their concern for the fate of the environments, seem to also share a concern that IPBES has, well, not really forgotten us but put perhaps did not yet encompass how central external stakeholders are to the very basic functioning of IPBES.
IPBES is defined a process where governments and stakeholders interact to guide future policies. IPBES seems to accordingly recognize the importance of knowledge-holders, indigenous people and an even much broader range of groups and people who could and should be incorporated into this process.At the same time, all of this immense diversity of partners is summarized by one word: “observers”. Hmm, isn’t it a bit over-simplified?
As the day proceeds an important message evolves:
Given the immense diversity of environmental problems, the vast number of assessments to make and various people to engage, people here seem to all share the opinion that IPBES might simply fail if the processes are not truly inclusive. It’s not only about “allowing” people to participate, it’s about finding and approaching them, activating them and even supporting them.
So, what did we manage to agree on? Quite a lot:
We are diverse.
We are not “lobbyists”: we hold knowledge and inputs without which IPBES may fail, and they need to do a bit more to include this “we” into both structure and processes, rather than just “observe” processes or “be welcome” to make suggestions.
And we all realize that the structures and procedures are formed right now, and we may wish to make sure, now, that things are done “the right way”, from concepts, through structures, to processes.
In the meantime, governments will convene already today to start selecting potential nominees for the bureau. We don’t have much say here. Isn’t it rather contradictory to the spirit of inclusiveness that IPBES is trying to set as a basic concept? And actually, asked one of us, why do we have to meet on a Sunday, separately?... The devil is in the details…
All in all: it’s all in all quite exciting, and quite promising. Finally we all sit together and the number of governments and stakeholders that join the process increases. These must be good signs, surely reasons for optimism.
And now comes a question to you, dear reader: if you read till here, you probably already know what IPBES really is. Do you think people around you know? Do you think they care? If these people around you might be engaged in protecting nature (or, as “we” call it, biodiversity and ecosystem services”), do you think they should?...
To read more about SCB opinion on IPBES see our previous entry