Biodiversity is back on the political agenda with the agreement to launch a global science policy panel following a "historic agreement" in Busan, South Korea.
More than 230 government representatives from some 85 nations have backed a plan — first proposed in Paris five years ago — to set up the International Science Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
The IPBES will likely be modelled on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and, like IPCC, it will aim to influence global policy by peer-reviewing scientific literature and providing accurate reports for governments.
"The essence of this vision is to ensure environmental sustainability while pursuing development," said Chan-Woo Kim, chair of the Busan meeting and director general of South Korea's environment ministry.
"For this to be realised it is crucial to have a credible, legitimate and policy-relevant understanding of biodiversity and ecosystem services."
Bob Watson, chief scientific adviser to the UK's environment department and a vice chairman of the meeting, said that the panel was essential for addressing global biodiversity loss and strengthening "the legitimacy and credibility of scientific research in the field".
Plans for the panel will be formally set out at the UN General Assembly in September before being presented for endorsement at the UN Environment Programme's global ministerial meeting early next year.