Prof. Esther Turnhout (BMS) and prof. Wieteke Willemen (ITC) are identified as UT Focal Points for IPBES, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. IPBES is an independent intergovernmental body to strengthen the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, long-term human well-being, and sustainable development. From 3 to 9 July 2022 the ninth session of the IPBES Plenary is being held in Germany.
IPBES was established in 2012 by 94 governments, to date 139 countries are IPBES members. IPBES, just like its sister organization IPCC, is a science-policy organization. To develop the IPBES deliverables, including global environmental assessments, academics from scientific organizations, such as the University of Twente, can be nominated as experts by their governments. Prof. Turnhout and prof. Willemen have both acted as selected experts in the creation of IPBES assessments including the Land Degradation and Restoration Assessment and the Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.
“The creation of these assessments truly happens at the science-policy interface", says prof. Willemen. "Over a period of three to four years, experts and member states design and shape an assessment. The resulting document is a product that experts and the member states feel ownership over. As such, the assessments serve a common basis for countries to base their policy on. Crucial, as the wellbeing of nature and people are intertwined also across country borders.”
Currently, the ninth plenary of IPBES is taking place in Bonn. In this meeting, member states will negotiate and adopt two important assessments. One of these is about the sustainable use of wild species. Prof. Turnhout was involved in this assessment. “It demonstrates the potential of sustainable forms of harvesting and the important contribution of traditional and indigenous practices to these sustainable uses.”
During the Plenary, member states will also negotiate the outline for a new assessment on the impact and dependence of businesses on nature. Prof. Willemen: “I was involved in the reviewing of the texts that are currently negotiated in Bonn. Being present at the negotiations is extremely insightful: words really matter. With so many diverse perspectives and governance systems in a room, looking for commonalities on how to describe the evidence is challenging but also very rewarding”.
As IPBES organizational focal points for the University of Twente, both professors will create an internal network to harness the relevant expertise that exists within the University of Twente about IPBES topics. "We can strengthen the UT contribution to IPBES and provide support for the inclusion of experts in this globally leading science-policy platform. We will also work closely with the Dutch Ministerie van Landbouw, Natuur en Voedselkwaliteit, and with other universities to strengthen the input of the Netherlands to the IPBES processes, including the plenary negotiations and translation of IPBES results to national contexts", explains Esther Turnhout. Wieteke adds: "As such, we can help our university with its mission to be an engaged university with a strong positive and visible impact on society and the planet we inhabit."
Biodiversity and nature’s benefits to people underpin almost every aspect of human development and are key to the success of the Sustainable Development Goals. They help to produce food, clean water, regulate climate, and control disease. IPBES harnesses expertise from across all scientific disciplines and knowledge communities – to provide policy-relevant knowledge and catalyze the implementation of knowledge-based policies at all levels of government, the private sector, and civil society. The work of IPBES can be broadly grouped into four complementary areas:
- Assessments of knowledge on specific themes, methodological issues and at both the regional and global levels
- Policy support: identifying policy-relevant tools and methodologies, facilitating their use, and catalyzing their further development
- Building capacity and knowledge: identifying and meeting the priority capacity, knowledge, and data needs of IPBES’ member states, experts, and stakeholders
- Communications and outreach: ensuring the widest reach and impact
If you want to learn more about IPBES or the organizational Focal Points at the University of Twente, please reach out to Wieteke Willemen or Esther Turnhout.