A new intergovernmental group on biodiversity should provide scientific assessments of different alternatives — rather than simply forecasting biodiversity changes based on various future scenarios, experts say.
The new Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) was agreed by governments meeting in Busan, South Korea, in June 2010 as a unified international scientific voice on biodiversity to inform policymakers.
But unlike the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — on which the IPBES is modelled — scientists writing in Science said that its effectiveness will rely on the underlying science, rather than on models and projections.
"Hypothetical scenarios bear no relationship to the real options confronting policymakers now," said co-author Charles Perrings, a professor of environmental economics at Arizona State University, United States.
The scientists also want IPBES to pay "at least as much attention to social sciences as to natural sciences", for example in estimating the economic value of ecosystems, to help societies make informed development choices.