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Contact: Terry Collins
Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)

Following tradition: Top examples of indigenous knowledge preserving biodiversity, ecosystem service

IPBES experts cite importance of 'co-production' of information with indigenous people

IMAGE: Crop diversity: Indigenous communities have always preferred growing a number of traditional crop varieties over a single high-yield -- and high-risk -- mono-cropping system. Analyses of agricultural systems in China,...

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With the planet losing species 100 to 1,000 times faster than the natural extinction rate, international experts assembling for high-level global biodiversity meetings say knowledge co-production with indigenous peoples has growing importance.

Indeed, they note, processes that merge multiple sources and types of knowledge already help manage challenges as diverse as wildfires and animal herds.

Building synergies between science and traditional knowledge forms one focus of delegates in Antalya, Turkey, December 9 to 14 charged with determining a conceptual framework and initial work program for the UN's new Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

Modelled on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the new IPBES is mandated to bridge the gulf between authoritative biodiversity-related information, knowledge, insights and effective policy-making. The organization has 115 member nations.

Available from almost every world region, lessons for ecosystem and natural resource management in indigenous and local knowledge include:

Building synergies between science and indigenous knowledge

At the 2nd plenary session of IPBES in Antalya, delegates will consider recommendations from an international workshop on traditional knowledge held in Tokyo in June.

The report of that meeting, The Contribution of Indigenous and Local Knowledge Systems to IPBES: Building Synergies with Science emphasizes that the IPBES conceptual framework must accommodate indigenous and local knowledge and world views in an appropriate, respectful manner.

The expert group emphasizes that indigenous peoples' and communities' conceptualization of relationships between life's ecological, social and spiritual spheres is reflected throughout their management and knowledge systems.

These should complement science-based representations and form an integral part of the IPBES conceptual framework through "a meaningful and active engagement . . . in all relevant aspects of its work and across all of its functions."

Says the founding Chair of IPBES, Zakri Abdul Hamid: "Our task is complex but essential. We must identify gaps in knowledge and build capacity for the interface between policy and knowledge in all its forms."

"That means developing a process through which scientific and policy communities recognize, consider and build synergies with indigenous and local knowledge in the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystem services."

The rapid decline of biodiversity and ecosystem services has been called "the 6th great extinction episode" in Earth's history, he notes, and "the role of IPBES is to narrow the gulf between the wealth of scientific knowledge about biodiversity and the paucity of effective action to reverse damaging trends."

Dr. Zakri, a national of Malaysia who co-chaired 2005's landmark Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and serves as science advisor to his country's prime minister, was recently appointed to the UN Secretary-General's Science Advisory Board.

Invasive species, the collapse of bees, and other IPBES work programme priorities

The 2nd plenary meeting of IPBES member nations will approve the 2014-18 work programme, a sequenced and prioritized set of objectives, deliverables, actions and milestones for advancing the organization's four mandated functions:

The draft work programme addresses the collapse of bee and other pollinator populations in many parts of the world with a proposed fast-track assessment of pollination and food production to be completed by March 2015.

This assessment will address trends in pollinators and pollination dynamics, drivers of change, how pollination declines and deficits have affected human well-being and how effective the response has been to date.

The work programme also calls for a global assessment of land degradation and restoration focusing on the effect of degradation on biodiversity values, ecosystem services and human well-being and the state of knowledge of ecosystem restoration.

Also proposed is a global assessment of invasive alien species and the threats posed to biodiversity, ecosystem services and livelihoods. The plenary may also initiate further thematic assessments on two of the following: agriculture and food security; sustainable use of biodiversity; and migratory and transboundary species.

The IPBES also plans to produce two guides by August 2015 based on fast-track assessments of policy and support tools and methodologies for:

The IPBES plenary will also consider a proposed budget for 2014-18, estimating the total cost of the five-year work programme at roughly $21 - 23 million.


The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES): ipbes.net/about-ipbes.html

Member nations: http://ipbes.net/about-ipbes/members-of-the-platform.html

Leadership: http://ipbes.net/about-ipbes/current-bureau-members.html

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