June 14, 2010
"IPBES represents a major breakthrough in terms of organizing a global response to the loss of living organisms and forests, freshwaters, coral reefs and other ecosystems that generate multi-trillion dollar services that underpin all life — including economic life — on Earth," said Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Program (UNEP).
The panel's creation comes after governments around the world failed to live up to a pledge to turn around biodiversity loss by this year: a pledge that both scientists and officials agree has been drastically missed, threatening not only species around the world but also the 'ecosystem services' they provide such as pollination, carbon sequestration, pest control, food, medicinal breakthroughs, and clean water.
A red millipede scurrys up a tree in Madagascar. Millipede are important for decomposition and nutrient cycles in soils. Hand shows size-comparison. Photo by: Rhett A. Butler.
Much like the IPCC, the IPBES will regularly release reports for governments on the state of biodiversity around the world and in specific regions. Other functions could include encouraging research in neglected areas, as well as providing research and conservation opportunities in developing countries.
"The essence of this vision is to ensure environmental sustainability while pursuing development," Chan-Woo Kim, chairman of the meeting and director-general of South Korea's environment ministry, said as reported by the BBC. "For this to be realized, it is crucial to have a credible, legitimate and policy-relevant understanding of biodiversity and ecosystem services."
The next step for the IPBES is to be formally established by the UN General Assembly meeting in September and then endorsed by environment ministers at UNEP's global meeting in February of next year.
According to many experts, the world is in the midst of a mass extinction. The IUCN Red List, the global authority on species' endangerment, has found that 40 percent of its evaluated species are threatened with extinction, while researchers estimate that extinctions are happening at rates 100 to 1000 times the background extinction rate as determined by fossils.
Japan suggests a 'Biodiversity Decade'
(05/10/2010) Japan, the host nation for the Nagoya Biodiversity Summit in October, has suggested adding a few more years to the UN's awareness-raising efforts on the biodiversity crisis. Instead of having the International Year of Biodiversity conclude after this December, Japan says it will propose making 2010-2019 the International Decade of Biodiversity.
Collapsing biodiversity is a 'wake-up call for humanity'
(05/10/2010) A joint report released today by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the UN Environment Program (UNEP) finds that our natural support systems are on the verge of collapsing unless radical changes are made to preserve the world's biodiversity. Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Ahmed Djoghlaf, called the bleak report "a wake-up call for humanity."
Despite promises, world governments failing to save biodiversity
(04/29/2010) In 2002 world leaders committed to reducing the global rate of biodiversity loss within eight years time: 2010. While many have noted that world governments have largely failed on their promises, a new study in Science looks at the situation empirically and agrees that their has been no significant reduction in biodiversity loss and, at the same time, pressures on the world's species have risen, not fallen.