Finding #5.2. Examples exist of thematic mechanisms such as expert groups or other collaborative arrangements that are providing valuable support to policy formulation and implementation on specific issues. Lessons can be learned from this.
Steps to improve coordination can be particularly effective when focussed on specific topics, themes or issues, and this is usually the case where a strong network or consortium already exists that can take the issue forward, or is formed specifically to do so.
Invasive alien species are widely seen as one of the key threats to biodiversity, and have been discussed on several occasions by the scientific advisory bodies of a number of conventions including all of the global biodiversity-related agreements. As is described in more detail in Annex T, the Global Invasive Species Programme was established to gather the best minds and organizations working on issue of invasive alien species, to consolidate available scientific and management information, to raise awareness of the issue and to present best management practices. Through the use of thematic working groups GISP focused on key issues such as pathways, management, socioeconomics, while simultaneously engaging national agencies and experts through a series of regional workshops. This model helped to funnel information developed by the international working groups down to the national level, while raising national level priorities and capacity needs to the global level. Information from both efforts was also channelled into the CBD. GISP has not been the only contributor (the IUCN Invasive Alien Species Group has also been significantly involved), but having a group coordinating inputs has played a significant role in helping to shape discussions and decisions within the CBD in particular. GISP have also been involved in discussions under other conventions, also bringing a degree of synergy.
There is a range of other examples where specific initiatives provide coordination across a range of organizations, networks and programmes working on a particular theme, and deliver information or analysis relevant to policy development and implementation. Examples include the following.
Synthesis and review: The Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) is an interdisciplinary worldwide network of natural and social scientists and scientific institutions focused on environmental issues, using workshops and consultations to provide synthesis and review on current and potential environmental issues intended to help inform policy and decision making.
Research: The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) is a network of more than 1600 scientists from 200 institutions which coordinates and promotes marine research on the marine environment in the North Atlantic. Their advice supports, amongst other things, policy development on fisheries (discussed in more detail in Annex W) and implementation of the OSPAR Convention.
Access to data: ReefBase, which is a project of the WorldFish Centre, works with a wide range of coral reef scientists and institutions to improve the sharing and use of data, information and knowledge in support of research and management of coral reefs. In doing so it works actively with both the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network and the International Coral Reef Action Network.
The point is not what each of these organizations or processes does, but the fact that there are many examples of coordination that can be built upon. Meanwhile organizations and programmes such as ICSU, DIVERSITAS and IUCN have a range of thematic working groups, networks and committees. Some of these are established for short periods of time to address particular issues, others, such as the IUCN Commissions, are long standing and well known.
Given the nature of biodiversity, the complex governance landscape and the relatively independent nature of the different governance bodies, it is inevitable that the needs of one policy making body are not completely different from the needs of other governance bodies, yet no obvious mechanism exists to review the needs of a range of governance bodies and their advisory bodies and advise on research priorities based on an integrated review. However there are the following examples of where such cooperation and collaboration has occurred and is beneficial, and where the experience can be built upon.
Inland waters: There is agreement between the CBD and the Ramsar Convention regarding how they cooperate on the issue of inland waters, leading to coordinated programming and decision making, and to a certain extent collaboration on how science is used to support these processes.
Species taxonomies: There is agreement between CITES and CMS to work towards standardization in species taxonomies so as to move away from the current situation where the taxonomies used differ. This will include jointly approaching relevant scientists for advice, and drawing on the same literature.
Wildlife diseases: The Ramsar Convention, CMS and the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) all support and participate in the work of the Scientific Task Force on Avian Influenza and Wild Birds, with the strong endorsement of their governing bodies.
At a higher level there are processes which improve inter-institutional cooperation of key thematic issues, and these can also have implications for improving the science-policy interface. For example, the Collaborative Partnership on Forests (CPF), which is a voluntary arrangement among 14 international organizations and secretariats with substantial programmes on forests (see Annex I), has a range of initiatives which are concerned with increasing collaboration in order to deliver improved management, conservation and sustainable management of forests.
Again, most of the initiatives described demonstrate the potential of increased coordination, and examples of approaches and structures that can be built upon. Perhaps an analysis of the overlaps between different mandates of, for example, the biodiversity-related MEAs could provide the basis for identifying those areas where increased coordination would provide most effective?
Coordination across different sectors
Finding #5.3. There is a lack of coordination across sectors to allow for the constant exchange and joint creation of knowledge, leading to mismatches and duplications of information and policies relevant to the broader development community.
The conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity is relevant to a wide range of different sectors from forestry to fisheries, and provides services ranging from carbon storage to protection of water supplies. Meanwhile many other sectors have a potential impact on biodiversity, whether transport, energy or mining. Data and information on biodiversity can therefore be of as great an importance to decision making in these sectors as is it in the biodiversity sector. The difference this time is that the case for taking account of impacts on biodiversity is rather less well understood, and the need for effective communication is rather higher.
There are some well established and successful examples of cross-sectoral coordination relevant for the science-policy interface on biodiversity and ecosystem services, some fixed term with time-bound mandates, and others ongoing. These include, for example, between the MEAs the following (all except the first being described further in Annex I):
An Ad hoc Technical Expert Groups on Biodiversity and Climate Change established under the CBD to provide biodiversity related information to the UNFCCC through the provision of scientific and technical advice and assessment on the integration of the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity into climate change mitigation and adaptation activities, in particularly as regards the mechanism for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation in developing countries (REDD) currently being discussed in the context of the successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol (see also Annex Von REDD).
The Joint Liaison Group (JLG), a joint body of the CBD, UNFCCC and UNCCD, established in 2001 as an informal forum for exchanging information, exploring opportunities for synergistic activities and increasing coordination. The JLG comprises the officers of the conventions’ scientific subsidiary bodies, the Executive Secretaries, and members of the secretariats.78 In summary, the JLG of the Rio Conventions has addressed a wide range of issues of relevance to the three conventions, including several relating to the coordination of scientific advice, such as collaboration among the scientific advisory bodies to the conventions, and cooperation in the development of advice, methodologies and tools (see Annex I).
Meanwhile there are other examples of coordinatory bodies within the UN system, again not usually specifically focus on the science-policy interface, but certainly relevant to if appropriate issues are brought to their attention:
The Environmental Management Group (EMG), a UN System-wide coordination body79 established under the auspices of UNEP to serve as a platform (i) to identify, address and resolve collectively specific problems, issues and tasks on the environmental and human settlements agenda and (ii) to provide a forum for an early discussion and sharing of information on emerging problems and issues in the field of environment and human settlements geared at finding collectively the most effective coordinated approach to the solution of new tasks (see Annex I).
The UN Chief Executives Board (CEB), which furthers coordination and cooperation on a whole range of substantive and management issues facing UN system organizations. CEB has established three High Level Committees, including the High Level Committee on Programme (HLCP) promoting global policy coherence and the UN Development Group (UNDG) promotes coherent and effective oversight, provision of guidance and capacity building with country level partners, coordination of UN development operations at country level (see Annex I).
The Common County Assessment/UN Development Assistance Framework processes, which aims to bring about a more coordinated UN approach to supporting achievement of national objectives within each country. Under which UNEP and UNDP have started to assist developing countries in preparing national reports on the implementation of MEAs; establishing thematic committees and coordinating; and sharing best practices among bodies using GEF funding such as the National Capacity Self-Assessments (NCSA), the National Dialogue Initiative and UNDP Country Support Programme.
In a way the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), aimed at reducing poverty, improving the quality people's lives and ensuring environmental sustainability, draw attention to cross-sectoral needs in achievement of targets on which partnerships are formed and policy responses formulated for progress towards sustainable development, especially in developing countries, and which involve cooperation across intergovernmental organisations (WHO, UNDP, UNEP, the World Bank), MEA secretariats, international NGOs, and global and regional business groupings. Substantial constraints similar to those faced by MEA implementation in developing countries apply to meeting MDGs at national level. They include poor integration of environment and development policies, lack of horizontal structures for inter-ministerial consultation and cooperation, and the lack of regional framework to coordinate sharing of experience from implementation and new policy responses.
There also exist a range of specific and ad hoc cross-sectoral institutional arrangements between various different UN bodies and agencies. For example, the joint work of WHO and UNEP regarding the interrelations between ecosystems and human health. Following the MA findings highlighting the link between the quality of ecosystems and human health, WHO and UNEP jointly agreed to use these recommendations as basis to inform policy in a cross-sectoral spirit. Since then, regional policy fora at ministerial level have discussed the issue involving ministers responsible for both health and environment.80 The initiation and consolidation of such coordination mechanisms within the UN that bring science together to inform policy have the potential to foster synergetic national policies both on health and the environment.
The Committee on Trade and Environment (CTE), was established under the World Trade Organization (WTO), with a twofold broad mandate: to identify the relationship between trade and environmental measures, and to make appropriate recommendations in harmonising WTO rules with the principle of sustainable development. The CTE has greatly contributed to the identification and understanding of the complex relationships between trade, environmental and development measures such as seen in the Doha Round. The Committee co-operates with international organisations and leading international NGOs in building capacity of developing countries to manage WTO negotiations on environmental services. However, it would appear that the CTE still has a relatively low profile with WTO, and this may explain why current limited progress towards environmental policy and action remains.
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) aims to provide a setting where governments compare policy experiences, seek answers to common problems, identify good practice and coordinate domestic and international policies, with a particular focus on democracy and the market economy. The OECD Working Group on Economic Aspects of Biodiversity (WGEAB) has been actively working with the CBD on issues such as incentive measures and access and benefit sharing of genetic resources, and also on valuation. Working together the CBD and OECD can approach an issue from different perspectives, and communicate support on addressing issues at the national level through different channels, increasing cross-sectoral reach
However, despite these and many other coordination and networking efforts there are still considerable gaps in cross-sectoral coordination relevant to interfacing science and policy at the global level, and these are almost certainly reflected at the national level in many parts of the world. Key concerns that lack of coordination can bring about are:
the sometimes ad hoc and late in time nature of such interrelationships, as in the case of cross-sectoral collaboration related to REDD;
the lack of sufficient reference to socio-economic perspectives in discussion on biodiversity and ecosystem services on a regular basis, and the lack of reference to the relevance of biodiversity and ecosystem services in other sectors even when biodiversity is directly relevant;
the lack of full understanding of the value of biodiversity, a gap that is partly addressed by, for example, ongoing follow-up to the MA at the sub-global level and The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) project; and
the small scope and relatively low priority of environmental issues as compared to development and trade related issues in discussions at all levels.
In fact the currently ongoing discussions on REDD provide an interesting example of the need for cross-sectoral collaboration and coordination, because of the opportunities for synergies it brings. As is described further in Annex V in improving conservation and management of tropical forests there is potential to simultaneously address not only the carbon agenda of the UNFCCC, but also biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, poverty and human livelihoods, water conservation and quality management, and so on. Annex V describes some of this evolving collaboration, in particular as it relates to the science-policy interface.
Coordination at and across levels of governance
Finding #5.4. There is a lack of coordination across levels of governance to allow for the effective exchange of knowledge and experience back and forth across relatively diverse science policy interfaces from the national to the global level that is necessary to avoid mismatches and duplications and to increase synergies between them.
Although levels of governance overlap and interlink in many ways, they are essentially different. Institutional arrangements are considerably influenced by a range of scale-dependent features, including: differences in the broader socio-economic and political setting in which institutional arrangements operate; differences in the policy instruments and compliance systems available; and differences in the type of knowledge systems that actors use.81 In other words, depending on the level at which particular aspects of biodiversity and ecosystem services are addressed, the types of problems that can be addressed, the actors involved, the modes of explanation that are needed, and the solutions that are likely to come about will change significantly.82
Given the multi-level nature of biodiversity and ecosystem services, effective governance has to accommodate different concepts and principles at each level, and at the same time provide a conceptual and institutional framework that allows for coherence across levels to reduce redundancies, gaps and mismatches on the one hand, and to increase synergies on the other.
Scientific advisory bodies and processes at national, regional and global level are central elements in such a conceptual and institutional framework, fostering networking, coordination and orchestration across levels of governance, potentially providing the mechanisms not only for the coordination of the interface between science and policy at a given level and context, but also in terms of the nodes in a network of science-policy interfaces necessary for the constant dialogue and translation from national to global scale.
It is worth noting her that coordination between levels should be seen not only in terms of working together to apply processes (e.g. indicators, assessments, data capture) that are meaningful in a cross-scalar way, and the associated guidelines, tools, and so on, but also in terms of people interrelating so that lessons are learnt, and moves towards consistency are made. The positive benefit of people working together should not be under-estimated.
There is a range of different institutional arrangements engaged, at least in part, in interfacing science and policy at regional and national levels. Relevant institutions at the regional level include a set of regional intergovernmental bodies such as the ASEAN-ACB, AU/STRC, CCAD, CEC, EEA, the regional offices of ICSU, which assisting in strengthening science and capacity-building in developing countries and promoting their increased participation in ICSU programmes and activities, and regional information networks such IABIN and others. Relevant institutions at the national level include the various MEA focal points, relevant government agencies and other national non-state actors.
However, despite this range of different institutional arrangements at global, regional and national levels, arrangements that coordinate (or network) the range of institutions at a given level are still largely missing, especially in many parts of lesser developed areas of the world. This may in part be due to the lack of a widely accepted conceptual and institutional framework for systematically and coherently addressing the different levels of governance and the interrelations in between them in and adequate manner.
There are no globally concerted efforts to systematically address the coordination of the science-policy interface on biodiversity and ecosystem services across scales. Partial approaches that exist include:
thematic approaches, such as the MA and its follow-up, which are supporting and guiding processes which involve a range of sub-global activities, with the guidance provided helping moves towards the outputs and outcomes being cross-scalar in nature;
regional approaches, such as the EPBRS on development of research strategies, or SEBI2010 which is working toward indicators scalable from national to regional level, both of which are intended to increase collaboration and understanding across scales; and
functional approaches, such as moves to create distributed databases, and tools that draw on data and information from across a range of scales, as is the case with GBIF, for example, working with a wide range of data at national and institutional levels.
Each of these is an example that can be built upon and promoted further.
Providing Fundamental Capacity
Finding #6. Numerous institutions and processes are helping to build capacity to use science effectively in decision-making at all levels. Further efforts, however, are required to integrate multiple disciplines and knowledge systems to produce relevant knowledge effectively; to translate knowledge into policy action and to coordinate these processes; and to build the capacities of developing countries to use science more effectively in decision-making and to participate fully in the science-policy dialogue.
The capacity for enabling full, equitable and active participation of all relevant stakeholders and knowledge-holders is crucial for ensuring the effectiveness of the science-policy interface on biodiversity and ecosystem services and their governance. But capacity is constantly changing and evolving, and capacity-building, be it at individual, institutional or systemic levels, is inherently a continuous effort. Providing the capacity fundamental for an effective science-policy interface requires at least the following three aspects be addressed:
the capacity for the production of relevant knowledge to contribute to the common knowledge base, and for the effective communication of this knowledge to decision makers and larger public;
the capacity for effective use of this knowledge and other knowledge in the formulation of and critical reflection on policy choices and their implementation; and
the capacity for effectively brokering knowledge so that it is used appropriately in decision making, including through identification of implications of different policy options.
Two issues are addressed further in this section, the broad need for building capacity for interdisciplinary approaches to knowledge production and the more effective brokering of knowledge, and the critical concern of geographical differences in capacity.
Improved production and use of knowledge
Finding #6.1. Notwithstanding continuing efforts and improvements in capacity building supporting the various processes of interfacing science and policy, there remains a significant and widespread lack of capacity in interdisciplinary approaches for knowledge production relevant to biodiversity and ecosystem services for human well-being and governance that draw upon a variety of knowledge systems.