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b) The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) follow up process was developed following completion of the MA in 2005, and taking account of the experience of the MA, the recommendations of two independent evaluations of the MA conducted in 2006 and 2007 and discussion during the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (decisions VIII/9 and IX/15). This process aims to strategically address the following four issues: continuing to build the knowledge base through sub-global assessments; promoting the consideration of ecosystem services in decision making processes; making assessment tools and methodologies widely available; and exploring needs, options and modalities for further global assessments (see Annex B). 89

29. Following completion of the IMoSEB consultation, and as part of the MA follow-up, the UNEP Executive Director convened the ad hoc intergovernmental and multi-stakeholder meeting on an intergovernmental science-policy platform on biodiversity and ecosystem services from 10-12 November 2008 in Putrajaya, Malaysia to consider establishing an efficient intergovernmental science-policy interface on biodiversity and ecosystem services for human well-being and sustainable development. At the meeting it was agreed that no recommendations would be adopted, but that the Chair’s summary, annexed to the meeting report, would serve as the outcome. 90

30. Participants at the IPBES Meeting recognized that there were currently numerous national and international science-policy interfaces for biodiversity and ecosystem services. But there was also broad recognition that there was a need to improve the science-policy interface, which should draw on the best available knowledge. Participants recognised that mechanisms to improve the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services for human well-being and sustainable development should continue to be explored, and: 90

a) recommended that the Executive Director of UNEP should report at the twenty-fifth session of the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum on the outcome of the meeting; 90

b) recommended that the UNEP Governing Council should request the Executive Director to convene a second intergovernmental multi-stakeholder meeting on an intergovernmental science-policy platform on biodiversity and ecosystem services with a view to strengthening and improving the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services for human wellbeing, including consideration of a new science-policy platform; and 90

c) called for a gap analysis to be undertaken with the aim of supporting future discussion by reviewing the existing mechanisms and processes, and requested that a preliminary report be made available at the twenty-fifth session of the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environmental Forum. 90

31. As requested, a preliminary gap analysis was provided as information document UNEP/GC.25/INF/30 to the UNEP Governing Council in February 2009. The UNEP Governing Council took note of the preliminary gap analysis, and in decision 25/10: 90

a) invited Governments and relevant organizations to continue to explore the mechanisms to improve the science-policy interface for biodiversity, long-term human well-being and sustainable development, taking into account the special need to develop and maintain the technical and scientific capacity of developing countries in biodiversity-related issues; 90

b) requested the Executive Director to undertake a further process to support these efforts aiming to report on its progress at the special session on biodiversity of the sixty-fifth session of the General Assembly and other relevant meeting; and 90

c) requested the Executive Director to convene a second intergovernmental and multi-stakeholder meeting at the earliest possible convenience in 2009 following the completion of the full gap analysis. 90

32. During review of the preliminary gap analysis, several Governments drew attention to the need to relate discussions to two further ongoing processes, so as to ensure complementarity: 90

a) The Assessment of Assessments and the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the state of the Marine Environment (GRAME) are being carried out under UN General Assembly Resolution 60/30 to review available knowledge and the ways in which it is used in the marine environment, and to propose options and a future framework for ensuring an adequate reporting and assessment of the state of the marine environment in order to support decision making, including aspects of building capacity, improving the knowledge base, improving networking among assessment and monitoring processes, and improving communication tools (see Annex C). The AoA/GRAME process is currently in a very advanced and critical phase, with an Ad hoc Working Group of the Whole 31 August - 4 September 2009, and plans to submit its proposals to the UN General Assembly in October 2009. There are obviously close parallels with IPBES, warranting tracking of the reports and outcomes of meetings later this year. 90

b) Moves towards increased coherence within the UN and environmental governance have been under way for a number of years, recognizing the potential for missed opportunities for synergy, and duplication of effort if this is not addressed. Discussion on increasing coherence in both the UN system and international environmental governance is likely to continue for some time, and its final outcome cannot be predicted. However it can be assumed that emphasis will remain on the need for greater coherence, that improvements in the ways in which science can be used to support decision making will continue to be recognised as a key issue, and that improvements in delivery and use of such information now will be important for whatever governance landscape exists in the future. This is discussed further in Annex D. 91

B.2.1.1 Setting the Context 91

33. There is significant variation in understanding of what science-policy interfaces are, how they work, and what they can achieve, and this variation in understanding is contributing to delays in consensus building and potentially hindering opportunities for full agreement on how to improve the current science-policy interface. It is not entirely clear to all of those participating what issues are being addressed, and what the scope of the discussion is. 91

34. In practice, there is a range of scientific advisory bodies and processes of different type, size, purpose, and spanning different levels and sectors. These can be very different in nature, some being very formal and others rather informal in character, some being closer to scientific processes while others are closer to the political process. They may also have different functions, or operate at different stages of the policy process. 91

35. In order to provide a common ground of understanding for discussions on mechanisms to improve the science-policy interface for biodiversity, long-term human well-being and sustainable development, it is important to define the concepts central to the gap analysis, and define to the scope. 91

B.3. Defining the scope of the gap analysis 91

36. Given the mandate to support discussions exploring the mechanisms to improve the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services, long-term human well-being and sustainable development, the scope of the science-policy interface, and hence of the gap analysis, is taken to encompass the following with respect to biodiversity and ecosystem services: 91

a) all aspects of the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in all Earth’s environments, whether terrestrial, freshwater, coastal or marine; 91

b) a wide range of other relevant sectors, including agriculture, forestry and fisheries, trade, development, and poverty reduction; and 91

c) multiple levels of governance addressing institutions at national, regional and global levels and the interactions between them. 91

37. The analysis therefore implicitly or explicitly includes institutions, networks and processes related directly to biodiversity and ecosystem services governance, as well as those that address sustainable development, and others that impact one or more aspects of biodiversity and ecosystem services. 91

B.4. Defining concepts central to the gap analysis 91

38. Science can be defined as the systematic pursuit of objective knowledge, involving formalised and disciplined methods of knowledge production which include the observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, theoretical explanation and prediction of phenomena. In trying to attain objectivity, science relies on the minimisation of any kind of influence that would introduce bias in knowledge production, and on validation of results through peer-review. Science encompasses all natural and social sciences, although the various disciplines differ significantly in their methods and concepts, and this has implications for developing interdisciplinary approaches, as is discussed later. 91

39. In addition to disciplined scientific knowledge there are other, non-formal types of knowledge, such as local, practical or traditional knowledge, that differ from scientific knowledge in essential ways. This non-formal knowledge often rests on experience and customs, and does not separate ‘secular’ or ‘rational’ knowledge from spiritual knowledge, intuitions and wisdom. It is often highly dependent on context, dynamic, collectively held and inter-generational in nature. Nonetheless, much non-formal knowledge exists that has the potential to considerably enhance the effectiveness of policies. 91

40. Policies can be defined as commitments to definite courses or methods of action with broad implications, selected from among alternatives in light of given conditions, and taking account of norms, values and motives, to increase the certainty of realising desired outcomes. Policies are adopted not only by governments and intergovernmental bodies, but are also made by companies, interest groups and other organised forms of society. In contrast, politics can be understood as the set of practices and institutions through which an order is created in the context of power and conflict, including processes of bargaining, negotiation and compromise over policy development and implementation. 92

41. Science and politics are characterised by different types of knowledge and processes, and as such they are treated as independent and separable human activities. However, in reality the scientific and political spheres deeply intersect with one another through the intermingling of processes, products and actors. 92

42. It is in this context that science-policy interfaces can be defined as structures and processes that aim to improve the identification, formulation, implementation and evaluation of policy to render governance more effective by: defining and providing opportunities for processes which encompass interrelations between science and policy in a range of domains; assigning roles and responsibilities to scientists, policy-makers and other relevant stake- and knowledge-holders within these processes; and facilitating improved coordination within and between the different stakeholder groups. 92

43. With this in mind, science-policy interfaces need to be understood both as a means to more effectively link knowledge to action by providing for a flow of credible, policy-relevant and authoritative information to those actors who have the influence to actually make a difference, and as core elements of international governance that have the potential to shape governance systems significantly. 92

44. A wide range of reviews and studies related to the use of science in policy formulation and decision making has identified relevance (or salience), credibility and legitimacy as amongst the most important attributes of effective science-policy interfaces. The following definitions are consistent with those used in the Assessment of Assessments/Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the state of the Marine Environment: 92

a) Relevance reflects the extent to which the approach and findings of a science-policy interface are closely related to the needs of decision-making processes, and the extent to which a science-policy interface identifies key target audiences and ensures effective consultation and communication between them and the knowledge holders, and strengthens the capacity of both experts and decision-makers to interact productively. 92

b) Credibility reflects the perceived validity of information, methods and procedures to a defined audience, and thus the extent to data of appropriate quality and established methods are used, availability of results and methods for peer review, absence of bias, selection of knowledge holders through appropriate and transparent procedures and so on. 92

c) Legitimacy reflects the perceived fairness, balance, political acceptability and trust, in particular the extent to which the processes are perceived as respectful of stakeholders’ contributions, concerns and their divergent values and beliefs, including the extent to which these processes provide for transparency and availability of data and information and efforts to strengthen the capacity of all interested groups to contribute. 92

45. In addition it is assumed that science-policy interfaces should also be efficient in the sense of being costs-effective, and building on existing experience, organizations, processes, networks and programmes. Throughout the following analysis consideration is given to these characteristics and whether they are being adequately addressed. 92

46. Four main categories and/or areas of work of a science-policy interface emerge from the discussion at both the IPBES Meeting in Putrajaya and the UNEP GC/GMEF: 92

a) building a common and shared knowledge base; 92

b) effectively informing policy formulation and other relevant decision making; 92

c) providing fundamental capacity for all stakeholders and knowledge holders; and 92

d) facilitating a coordinated response to various issues by different actors. 92

B.4.1.1 Description of the Institutional Landscape 93

Finding #1. A wide range of science-policy interfaces of varying types, sizes and purposes already exist for the many multilateral environmental agreements and other bodies relating to biodiversity and ecosystem services at all levels. Between them they have, to a certain extent, enriched decision-making and raised awareness of biodiversity and ecosystem services among the environmental community. 93

47. Throughout the last few decades there has been significant increase in the arrangements made at all levels to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity and ecosystem services. These arrangements range from legally binding treaties to disbursement of multilateral assistance, and from national policy development to setting fisheries quotas. Meanwhile there has been significant advance in science, and increasing recognition of the importance of effective use of science in decision making. Therefore, as environmental governance arrangements have proliferated, mechanisms for ensuring that these are advised by science have also developed. 93

48. The landscape of processes, organizations, networks, programmes and other arrangements promoting, ensuring and supporting the use of science in decision making is now large and complex, and it is in the context of that landscape that consideration needs to be made of how to most effectively improve the science-policy interface and ensure the effective incorporation of biodiversity and ecosystem service science into decision making at all levels and across all sectors. 93

B.5. Setting the scene 93

49. This section aims to describe that landscape, to identify by examples the range of individual scientific advisory bodies and processes involved, and the range of support they have available. In addition, Annexes E-J and T-W provide further descriptions of a range of examples of scientific advisory bodies and processes, and of some of the plethora of organizations, networks and programmes that support them. 93

Institutions and processes at global and regional levels 93

Finding #1.1 The existing landscape of science-policy interfaces and interactions provides an important basis that can be built upon and strengthened. 93

Finding #1.2 The variety of existing science-policy interfaces is in part historic as institutions have been created on an ad hoc basis to deal with problems and issues as they have emerged. Much of this variety is, however, likely to be inherent, given the complexity of governance arrangements, the multiple levels of governance, the broad range of sectoral interests and the variety of purposes. 93

50. The United Nations system and related governance processes have over the years demonstrated a steadily increasing interest in drawing on scientific information and advice in order to fulfil their responsibilities to advance human health, welfare, and development, while better managing and conserving the environment and natural resources. This need for scientific advice has been approached by different organs of the system, at different times, in different ways. Some of the most relevant examples include the following. 93

a) The Multilateral Environmental Agreements, which have each established subsidiary bodies or other mechanisms to provide scientific and technical advice, including, for example, the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Animal and Plant Committees of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and the Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP) of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (see Annexes E-G). 93

b) UN Programmes such as the United Nations Environment Programme, which acts as the convener for a number of scientific advisory groups and processes, and mobilizes scientific and technical knowledge to support international environmental norm setting, activities which have over time culminated in adoption of conventions, action plans and strategies, research agendas, and political declarations (see Annex H). 93

c) International Commissions such as the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD), set up under the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to implement the Agenda 21, which relies on a wide variety of advisory inputs, most of which are provided through consultancy reports, or the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture which draws inter alia on the periodic review of State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture  developed through a participatory, country-driven process under the guidance of the Commission. 93

d) Scientific advisory groups such as the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) which supports the Global Environment Facility (GEF); the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environment Protection (GESAMP) which advises a range of sponsoring organizations; and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the leading body for the assessment of climate change, established in 1988 by UNEP and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), all of which are described further in Annex H. 93

e) Specialized agencies, such as the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, which have a range of scientific advisory processes in addition to being responsible for specific international agreements (and their advisory processes), and in the case of FAO also for administering Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (see Annex H). 94

51. There is also an increasing number of intergovernmental arrangements at the regional level that play important roles in interfacing science and policy in biodiversity and ecosystem governance. For example, the following three organizations (see Annex J): 94

a) The Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) Centre for Biodiversity (ACB), which aims to facilitate cooperation and coordination among the Member States on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity in the region, focusing on issues such as information sharing and access, monitoring and assessment, and capacity building. 94

b) The African Union’s Scientific, Technical and Research Commission (AU/STRC), established to coordinate and promote scientific and technological research and findings, and to serve as a clearing house for all scientific and technical activities of the continent through a sharpening of the overall national and regional development plans, strategies and policies in order to ensure full exploitation of national and natural resources for durable long term growth and development. 94

c) The European Environmental Agency (EEA) and European Environment Information and Observation Network (EIONET) of the European Union, established to support sustainable development and to help achieve significant and measurable improvement in Europe's environment through the provision of timely, targeted, relevant and reliable information to policy-making agents and the public. 94

52. Other key institutions which play important roles in interfacing science and policy are within or closely linked with the scientific community. Examples of such institutions include the following: 94

a) Organisations such as the International Council for Science (ICSU), the International Social Science Council (ISSC) and the Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), which among other things often represent the scientific community in, and coordinate their input to, high-level processes (see Annex J). 94

b) Scientific programmes, such as DIVERSITAS, the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), and the International Human Dimension Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP), which promote and facilitate research in key areas. 94

c) Scientific networks, such as the Species Survival Commission (SSC) of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the global network of International Long Term Ecological Research (ILTER), and information sharing networks and programmes such as the Inter American Biodiversity Information Network (IABIN) and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). 94

d) The research centres of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), ranging from the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) to the WorldFish Centre, and from Bioversity International to the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA). 94

e) Specialist “boundary” organizations working in support of governance processes to improve the information available for decision making, such as the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre, and the European Centre for Nature Conservation. 94

53. Finally there is the role played by civil society organizations and the private sector in providing support to science-policy interfaces. Some of the most relevant examples include: 94

a) World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), a global association of some 200 companies which provides a platform for companies to explore sustainable development, share knowledge, experiences and best practices, and to advocate business positions on these issues in a variety of forums, working with governments, non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations (see Annex J). 94

b) Internationally active non-government organizations such as WWF, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Conservation International (CI), BirdLife International and the World Resources Institute (WRI), which between them make substantive scientific input within the areas covered by their respective organizational interests and priorities. 94

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