Saturday, May 4, 2013

Global biodiversity panel urged to heed local voices

Imogen Mathers in A newly established global panel on biodiversity faces being sidetracked by niche interests and northern agendas if it does not tread carefully, a meeting has heard.  The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services (IPBES) was formed in April 2012, with a mandate to assess the state of the planet's biodiversity and ecosystems, and provide accessible scientific advice to policymakers.

But it faces several challenges. The key issue to emerge at an IPBES stakeholders' meeting in Paris, France, this week (29–30 April) was how to involve voices from the global South, including those of indigenous communities, traditional and local knowledge holders, women, and civil society organisations.

Experts are concerned the panel could become ensnared by northern government agendas, private-sector lobbying or the interests of the vocal conservation sector, at the expense of livelihood concerns and biodiversity priorities of local communities in the developing world.

And many insiders are worried that the IPBES bureau and multidisciplinary expert panel — IPBES's core governance institutions — are already too skewed towards conventional scientific voices and government ministries, and are failing to represent more diverse voices and communities in developing countries.

Representing the vast heterogeneity of interests and agendas is a challenge, but one that must be faced, says Anne Larigauderie, executive director of Diversitas, an international biodiversity research programme, and head of the International Council for Science delegation at IPBES....

Charles Darwin's first sketch, from 1837, of an evolutionary tree

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