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Friday, 2 August 2013

”IPBES should increase the political feasibility of biodiversity conservation” – How can Eastern Europe contribute? East European Regional Consultation on IPBES, Hungary 31 July – 2 Aug

With its first plenary meeting held in January 2013 in Bonn, Germany, the Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) has moved into its operational phase. Right now, the newly elected Bureau and Multidisciplinary Expert Panel (MEP) are preparing key documents for the future: The draft work programme (2014-2018) and the draft of a Stakeholder Engagement Strategy. In summer 2013, draft documents will be released for public consultation, and governments and stakeholders of IPBES, like regional knowledge networks, are asked to provide their input.

Hungary is hosting now the IPBES East European Offical Stakeholder Meeting for the coming 2 days. Two members of the MEP and two members of the IPBES Bureau are present in the consultation, during which experts and stakeholders from Eastern-European countries are compiling a list of comments, suggestions and additional contribution to be channeled into the draft Work Programme 2014-2018 and the stakeholder engagement strategy. These documents will be finalized and approved by the next IPBES plenary at the end of this year (December 2013) in Antalya. It is therefore essential to raise and articulate Eastern-European issues and perspectives in order to include them in the IPBES process.

The consultation started with an open meeting at the Hungarian Ministry of Rural Development attended by the participants. As György Pataki, vice-chair of the Multidisciplinary Panel pointed out, this meeting should serve as an opportunity to learn from invited stakeholders, to feed their aspects and suggestions into the IPBES  process. Eastern-European countries have not been too active so far, they need to become more dedicated and articulated in the consultation process. György also mentioned the problem of financing – due to UN regulations, many of the MEP members have to cover their own budget related to IPBES activities, and lack of governmental support  seriously challenges their consistent participation.

Jerry Harrison, Interim Secretariat of IPBES is talking
about the ongoing process 
Jerry Harrison (UK), representative of the IPBES Interim Secretariat reported on the IPBES build-up progress and the timeline of the coming events. He highlighted the fact that actual implementation of the IPBES will start after the Antalya Plenary with five documents being out now for international review. The actual implementation is also the subject of current discussions.

András Báldi (HU) talked about the ecosystem sevice concept and the need to put a price tag on nature as the main reason behind forming IPBES. Adem Bilgin from Turkey presented the work of the study group on conceptualization of value in IPBES as the core concept.

Will IPBES really help in addressing biodiversity crisis? – asked one concerned NGO participant. As Adem Bilgin replied, the responses that IPBES will give, depend on the questions the governmenst are asking. IPBES should go well beyond being a scientific body, it has to be an interface between science and policy. As Bilgin stated "IPBES should increase the political feasibility of biodiversity conservation” stressing the importance of policy implications.

After the closing remarks, workshop participants headed towards Lake Balaton to continue the consultation.

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