Wednesday, January 23, 2013

IPBES-1 day three

Who has a stake in stakeholder involvement – do you?

It seems like stakeholder involvement in IPBES got a peptalk from almost any delegation in Bonn so far. But reality has not been so convincing – both from the side of the plenary as well as from our side as stakeholders. Luckily on both sides there were signs today that things might start to change.  

As mentioned yesterday, we had prepared some "text" we hoped could be included in the "Rules and Procedures" to strengthen our position and role in the future IPBES process. Unfortunately we were not given the chance to present it at the respective Contact Group meetings that were dealing with it as we were not given the floor – neither yesterday nor today. That is very unfortunate – to say the least. Of course the meetings are very intense already and involving additional ideas by stakeholders could complicate things. But listening to stakeholders only when it is convenient does not exactly resemble the peptalks and certainly not what we would call participation. 

Nevertheless, after this initial frustration we got some encouraging news today too, as our general opening statement seemingly led to the inclusion of two paragraphs that foster the draft of a stakeholder engagement strategy by the secretariat in cooperation with us. Furthermore, in the draft there was "text" that would allow stakeholders to participate in some of the "bread and butter" business of the IPBES – e.g. the right to suggest topics for the actual assessments as well as for commenting on the prioritization of the assessment themes by the MEP. This would be a crucial right since e.g. the IBS or even individual members (or of course any other stakeholder) could with their respective expert knowledge then propose topics or comment on the presented priority list. This is how we understand stakeholder involvement. 

Luckily also our own involvement [slowly] starts to improve as we intensify the coordination between present stakeholder groups – preparing drafts, coordinating the contacting of country delegations, and so on. As stakeholders are very diverse a next step would be to form a forum of the Societies representing the different involved scientific disciplines – so that we can really coordinate ourselves also during the intersessional stages and to get more of the potentially interested societies involved. Right now there seem to be only the IBS, the GFOe and the Society for Conservation Biology to be involved in Bonn (that is from the Science Societies). Some more have expressed their general interest – e.g. the European Ecological Federation. But in the end the question is - who has a stake in IPBES? Do we as the International Biogeography Society? Do you? 

—Lars Opgenoorth 

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