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A mechanism set up to monitor the causes and consequences of human-induced ecosystem change must put in place an assessment process that suits its commitment to support specific policies, say Charles Perrings, Anantha Duraiappah, Anne Larigauderie and Harold Mooney.

The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) has a blueprint for governance rather than science, say the authors. Unlike similar mechanisms that preceded it, including the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, the IPBES has a stronger role to play in evaluating policy options based on sound science — and it should follow a different approach in how it functions, its methods and the way it supports decisions.

Perrings and colleagues argue that the IPBES plenary should ask scientists to assess the consequences of specific policies in different areas, and forecast changes in biodiversity and ecosystem services according to different policies.

They say that efforts to build capacity should be channelled towards improving the skills and attracting the funding needed to strengthen science-based policy development.

To solve problems caused by global environmental change we need international research that is better resourced and gives equal focus to the social and natural sciences.

The IPBES should answer questions relevant to its members, supporting science that enables policymakers to evaluate the benefits of strategies designed to mitigate, adapt to and stabilise global environmental changes.

Link to full article in Science