Scientists from the UK's Centre for Ecology & Hydrology are among 550 experts worldwide who have contributed to major new global biodiversity assessments published today (23 March).

Four reports were launched today at the sixth session of the Plenary of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (#IPBES6), chaired by Sir Robert Watson, which has been taking place in Medellin, Colombia (from 17-26 March). 

The studies present the state of biodiversity and nature's contributions to people in the Americas; Asia and the Pacific; Africa; Europe and Central Asia. A fifth assessment report assessing the global problem of land degradation and available remedies and will be available shortly.

Professor Paula Harrison, Principal Natural Capital Scientist at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, is a Coordinating Lead Author on chapter 5 of the IPBES regional assessment of Europe and central Asia "Current and Future Interactions between Nature and Society", leading on Integrated and Cross-Scale Analysis of the Interrelationships between Nature and Society. 

Professor Harrison is in Medellin for the IPBES6-Plenary conference, where government delegates have approved the reports. CEH colleagues Helen Roy and Adam Vanbergen are Lead Authors in other chapters of the Europe and central Asia assessment.

Often called ‘the IPCC for biodiversity’, IPBES is the global science-policy platform tasked with providing the best-available evidence to inform better decisions about nature.

The reports were completed over three years by 550 scientists and experts from more than 100 countries. They will be key inputs to a comprehensive IPBES global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services, due for release in 2019, the first such global evaluation since the authoritative 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.

Prof Harrison said, “The chapter I worked on explored how the future might unfold using scenario and modelling studies. This showed that if we continue to act in the way we have in the past (i.e. Business-As-Usual scenarios), then this is likely to inhibit the contribution of the region – Europe and central Asia -  to the widespread achievement of sustainability goals, due to continued biodiversity loss.

Alternatively, sustainability-focused scenarios, which assume proactive and integrated management and governance of natural resources as well as changes in people’s lifestyles and consumption to be more resource-sparing, show that it is possible to achieve a balanced supply of nature’s contributions to people supported by healthy ecosystems, leading to achievement of the majority of the Sustainable Development Goals.”

In addition to helping decision makers evaluate lessons learned and progress on major global development commitments - such as the Sustainable Development Goals, the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the Paris Agreement on climate change - the reports will also provide vital information for setting biodiversity targets for the period after 2020.

“Biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people sound, to many people, academic and far removed from our daily lives,” said the Chair of IPBES, Sir Robert Watson, “Nothing could be further from the truth – they are the bedrock of our food, clean water and energy. They are at the heart not only of our survival, but of our cultures, identities and enjoyment of life. The best available evidence, gathered by the world’s leading experts, points us now to a single conclusion: we must act to halt and reverse the unsustainable use of nature – or risk not only the future we want, but even the lives we currently lead. Fortunately, the evidence also shows that we know how to protect and partially restore our vital natural assets.”        

Additional information

IPBES6 website

IPBES Press release - Biodiversity and Nature’s Contributions Continue Dangerous Decline, Scientists Warn

Staff page of Professor Paula Harrison
Staff page of Prof Helen Roy
Staff page of Dr Adam Vanbergen



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