IPBES, the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, was established in April 2012 following seven years of negotiations.


The International Council for Science (ICSU), the predecessor organization of the International Science Council (ISC), played an active role in advocating for and shaping the creation of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) as a non-governmental organization representing the international scientific community. IPBES is similar to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and provides policy-relevant scientific information on biodiversity and ecosystem services in response to requests from governments and other stakeholders. The ISC is an observer organization of IPBES, mobilizing its Members to participate in the deliverables of IPBES and strengthening the science-policy interface on major issues at global and national levels.

Our contribution to the Global Biodiversity Framework and COP15

In December 2022, ahead of the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15), the scientific community represented by the ISC called for The Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) to encompass ambitious and integrated action, grounded in science, in order to halt alarming biodiversity loss and restore biodiversity as part of human wellbeing.

Ten key messages for the Convention on Biological Diversity

The scientific community called for the Global Biodiversity Framework to address alarming biodiversity loss, engage science, involve people as stewards, mainstream biodiversity in policies, tackle drivers of loss, and expand conservation efforts while considering climate impacts. It requires clear pathways to action, bottom-up and top-down approaches, and strong territorial governance for success.

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Science-Policy Forum for Biodiversity

The ISC was also active at the Science-Policy Forum for Biodiversity that took place on 11 and 12 December 2022, as well as other events taking place at the COP15.

Our Affiliated Body Future Earth

Future Earth, launched in 2015, is a 10-year initiative aiming to advance Global Sustainability Science, foster international research collaboration, and engage with society to address global environmental challenges. It builds on the work of several longstanding global environmental change research programmes, including WCRP, IGBP, DIVERSITAS, and IHDP, which were merged to form Future Earth. The initiative was conceived in response to the growing pressure on the Earth system and the need for integrated, solutions-oriented research with input from various stakeholders.

Future Earth, continuing the engagement of the global environmental change programmes, plays a leading role in mobilizing the scientific community in IPBES and providing major contribution to IPBES deliverables, and in filling gaps in the science related to IPBES’ work.

ICSU’s history with IPBES

ICSU (our predecessor organization) through its global environmental change programmes and in particular DIVERSITAS, played an active role in advocating for and shaping its creation as a non-governmental organisation representing the international scientific community.

IPBES is an international science-policy platform, with similarities to IPCC, which provides policy relevant scientific information on biodiversity and ecosystem services in response to requests from governments and other stakeholders. IPBES operates under the auspices of UNEP, UNESCO, FAO and UNDP.

In 2013, IPBES adopted, at its second plenary (December 2013, Antalya, Turkey) an ambitious work programme for 2014–18 including capacity building activities, fast-track methodological and thematic assessments (on pollination, pollinators and food security (2015), land degradation and restoration (2018), methodological assessments (e.g. on scenarios and modelling of biodiversity and ecosystem services); a set of regional and sub-regional assessments; and importantly, the initiation of a global assessment of biodiversity and ecosystem services, a decade after the publication of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. IPBES in its initial programme of work has also put a lot of emphasis in developing a strategy and mechanism for stakeholder engagement in IPBES work and inclusion of indigenous and local knowledge systems.

ICSU led the input of the scientific community during the negotiation phase and its early implementation phase providing views (plenary statements, written contributions) on all aspects of IPBES including rules of procedure, the conceptual framework, the programme of work, and the involvement of non-governmental stakeholders. ICSU, together with IUCN, worked on the stakeholder engagement strategy, and co-chaired, with IUCN, the multi-stakeholder forum of IPBES up until 2015.

In 2018, ICSU was chosen to coordinate the External Review of IPBES. The decision, which was announced at the 6th Plenary of IPBES in Medellin, Colombia in March 2018, followed an open call for Expressions of Interest and a separate call for nominations of experts to serve on the review panel in 2017.The review examined the effectiveness of IPBES as a science-policy interface.

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