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An independent, international science panel would improve standards and infrastructure for biodiversity science, says an editorial in Nature.

This week, in South Korea, government representatives from across the world will decide whether to create a panel, reminiscent of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to review the science and anticipated effects of changes in biodiversity.

The proposed panel, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), will conduct regional as well as global assessments — in part to address the fact that biodiversity change is a more local affair than climate change.

It will likely allocate part of its budget to building scientific capacity in developing countries, predicts the editorial. And by working with groups such as the Group on Earth Observations Biodiversity Observation Network, it could improve predictive models of global change and allow biodiversity science to flourish, it adds.

But the panel must work with other organisations that influence biodiversity. For example, if the UN Food and Agriculture Organization were involved, farmers and fishermen would be more likely to stand behind its conclusions.

Despite recent hiccups, the IPCC "remains the gold standard for independent scientific assessment", says the editorial. More importantly, its reports on the economic impacts of climate change have made the issue much harder for policymakers to ignore.

"If the IPBES can do the same for biodiversity and ecosystem change, it will be very much worth its proposed annual budget of around US$12 million", concludes the editorial.

Link to full article in Nature