The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is often compared to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
But unlike the IPCC, which mainly conducts assessments for policymakers, IPBES has additional aims, yet these get less than a third of its allocated budget, says the paper in this month’s edition of Trends in Ecology & Evolution.
“Climate functioning is reasonably well understood, unlike the biodiversity problem, which includes huge knowledge gaps.”
Jorge Soberón, a Mexican researcher and one of the paper’s authors, thinks increasing local capacities to carry out biodiversity assessments would be more useful for preventing biodiversity loss than providing national politicians with the results of general studies.
“The assessment functions at the scale to which IPBES can organise the work — global or regional at best — are not that useful beyond their academic interest,” says Soberón, a researcher at the University of Kansas, United States, and an advisor to the National Commission for Knowledge and Biodiversity Use in Mexico.
IPBES also has a much more complex task than the IPCC, says Soberón.
“Climate functioning is reasonably well understood, unlike the biodiversity problem, which includes huge knowledge gaps, [such as] how many animal species are there or how they interact with each other,” he says.
But Sandra Díaz, an Argentinean researcher who is on IPBES’s panel of experts, says the distinction between the amount allocated to each area in the organisation’s budget does not imply that more resources are exclusively used for assessments.
“IPBES’s functions cannot be separated: much [of the budget] that goes for assessment is used for capacity building too, and vice versa,” she says.
This is because assessment and capacity building go hand to hand, so one cannot be done without the other, Díaz adds.
But Soberón maintains the two budget lines should be separated.
“Capacity building is not about [doing assessments] but about general capacities to develop science and link that to decision making at a local and national level,” he says.
> Link to paper abstract in Trends in Ecology & Evolution