. UNDP is working in 66 countries worldwide to ensure that the contribution of biodiversity and ecosystem services to food security, health, livelihoods and reduced vulnerability to natural disasters is factored into national planning for the achievement of development goals, including safeguards to protect these resources.
UNDP's Regional Bureaus and Country Offices undertake biodiversity projects that complement the programmes described above and respond to region and country-specific needs. UNDP has Country Offices in 166 countries in five global regions (Africa, Arab States, Asia & the Pacific, Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States, and Latin America & the Caribbean). These offices usually lead work on the Common Country Assessments and preparation of UN Development Assistance Frameworks.
UNDP gets scientific advice and support through its wide biodiversity-related partnership initiatives.
United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP)
The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) is an intergovernmental organisation established by the Stockholm Conference on Human Environment (1972). The Programme has its headquarters in Nairobi (Kenya) with a number of Divisions, regional programmes and collaborating centres, each with specialised expertise and located in different regions of the world. UNEP has contributed to global environmental governance by mobilizing scientific and technical knowledge to support international environmental agenda setting, often culminated in new policy instruments for sustainable development.
UNEP played an important role in the establishment of, and acts as a convener for, many scientific advisory groups including the Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environment Protection (GESAMP), and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and is currently directly involved in preparation of the Assessment of Assessments and proposals for a Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment.
UNEP also collaborates with a wide range of partners both inside and outside the UN system to provide information on natural resources and their contribution to sustainable development. UNEP participates actively in several global environmental assessments, including the Global International Waters Assessment, the Global Environment Monitoring System Freshwater Quality Programme and the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development, and The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity. UNEP is also directly involved in the MA follow up.
UNEP also carries out global assessments and publishes authoritative reports on human-induced environmental changes, the flag-ship of which is the Global Environment Outlook (GEO). Global Environment Outlook (GEO) is a consultative, participatory, capacity building process for global environmental assessment and reporting on the state of the environment, trends and future outlooks. In its objective to facilitate the interaction between science and policy, GEO is both a process involving stakeholders from across the globe, as well as a product for environmental decision-making. This participatory and consultative process gives GEO assessments scientific credibility, policy relevance and authority.
In 2005, the UNEP Governing Council initiated a process to strengthen the scientific base of UNEP through the Science Initiative. The mandate of this initiative is to provide the world community with improved access to meaningful environmental data and information, and to help increase the capacity of governments to use environmental information for decision making and action planning for sustainable human development.
The UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre is specifically focused on ensuring the availability of information for policy setting and decision making with respect to biodiversity. UNEP-WCMC has been supporting international agreements for nearly 30 years, delivering services that range from managing the CITES Trade Database to managing the 2010 Biodiversity Indicators Partnership.
Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) of the Global Environmental Facility
The Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) provides strategic scientific and technical advice to the Global Environment Facility (GEF) on its strategy and programmes. The Panel has six members who are internationally recognized experts advisers in the GEF's key areas of work (biodiversity, sustainable land management, international waters, climate change, persistent organic pollutants, and sustainable forest management for the period 2007-2009) who are appointed by the Executive Director of UNEP in consultation with the UNDP, the World Bank and the GEF Secretariat. The Panel members are together responsible for connecting the GEF to the most up to date, authoritative, and globally representative science, supported by a Secretariat based in UNEP's Regional Office for North America in Washington, D.C., and at UNEP’s Headquarters in Nairobi.
The Panel Members works with a community of experts which represents a network of expertise that the members of the Science Panel draws upon to advise the GEF. The Panel Members work within an active network of scientists supporting all focal areas and their interlinkages. The scientists in the network assist the Panel Members to cover the full range of expertise required to provide policy advice on science and technology to the GEF.
STAP's mandate, adopted by the GEF Council in June 2007 include to (i) provide objective, strategic scientific and technical advice on GEF policies, operational strategies, programs and on projects and programmatic approaches; (ii) maintain a database of institutions, networks and individual scientists to provide the necessary expertise and advice for the GEF; (iii) interacts in a complementary manner with other relevant scientific and technical bodies, particularly with the subsidiary bodies of the CBD, the UNFCCC, the UNCCD and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. The STAP also provides expert scientific advice to inter-agency task forces and bodies handling other GEF processes on request.
STAP’s objectives include: (i) To identify and provide strategic advice on scientific and technical priorities, the scientific and technical coherence of GEF operational programs and strategies, and on emerging issues and gaps relevant to the implementation of operational programs; (ii) To provide scientific and technical advice aimed at strengthening the scientific and technical quality and underpinnings of GEF projects; (iii) To enhance and improve the collaboration with other scientific and technical bodies, communities and private sector in areas of relevance to the GEF priorities; (iv) To advise on capacity building efforts in science and technology relevant for development and implementation of GEF projects; (v) To advise on targeted research relevant to GEF strategic priorities; and (vi) To advise on monitoring and evaluation indicators for focal areas and cross-cutting issues.
Group of Experts on Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP)
The Group of Experts on Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP) is a body established in 1969 to advise the UN system on the scientific aspects of marine environmental protection. Currently the Group is jointly sponsored by eight UN organizations with responsibilities relating to the marine environment as a mechanism for coordination and collaboration among them. These are: IMO, FAO, UNESCO-IOC, WMO, IAEA, UN, UNEP and UNIDO.
GESAMP’s mission is to provide authoritative, independent, interdisciplinary scientific advice to organizations and member Governments to support the protection and sustainable use of the marine environment. It’s primary mandate is to: (i) integrate and synthesize the results of regional and thematic assessments and scientific studies to support global assessments of the marine environment; (ii) provide scientific and technical guidance on the design and execution of marine environmental assessments; (iii) provide scientific reviews, analyses, and advice on specific topics relevant to the condition of the marine environment, its investigation, protection, and/or management.
The Group is also mandated to provide regular overviews of the marine environmental monitoring, assessment and related activities of UN agencies, and advise on how these activities might be improved and better integrated and coordinated, and to identify new and emerging issues regarding the degradation of the marine environment that are of relevance to Governments and Sponsoring Organizations.
GESAMP is managed through an Executive Committee consisting of a representative of each Sponsoring Organization (i.e. Technical Secretary) and the Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson of GESAMP. A lead organization, currently IMO, hosts an Administrative Secretariat which is responsible for general administration on behalf of all the Sponsoring Organizations. The functions of the Executive Committee include planning and approving the work plan, selecting members of GESAMP from a pool of experts, and adopting terms of reference for its working groups.
Following an independent, in-depth review of GESAMP in 2001, the Group underwent an extensive revitalization process which is still underway. Key actions include: (i) increasing the number of experts from developing countries participating in GESAMP activities; (ii) extending and consolidating GESAMP's networks at the regional and global level; and (iii) supporting GESAMP's participation the UNGA Regular Process.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is the leading body for the assessment of climate change, established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The initial task for the IPCC as outlined in the UN General Assembly Resolution 43/53 of 6 December 1988 was to prepare a comprehensive review and recommendations with respect to the state of knowledge of the science of climate change; social and economic impact of climate change, possible response strategies and elements for inclusion in a possible future international convention on climate.
IPCC’s work involves both peer review by experts, and review by governments. Thus the review process generally takes place in three stages and results in a full synthesis report with summary for policymakers. Along with the Assessment Reports, the IPCC has produced several Special Reports on various topics of growing interest, and many other papers and contributions to the advancements of the climate change science. It also prepared methodologies and guidelines to be used by Parties under the UNFCCC for preparing their national greenhouse gas inventories.
IPCC Working Group I assesses the physical scientific aspects of the climate system and climate change; Working Group II assesses the vulnerability of socio-economic and natural systems to climate change, negative and positive consequences of climate change, and options for adapting to it; and Working Group III assesses options for mitigating climate change through limiting or preventing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing activities that remove them from the atmosphere. IPCC also established the Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories (TFI) was established by the to oversee the IPCC National Greenhouse Gas Inventories Programme (IPCC-NGGIP), and the Task Group on Data and Scenario Support for Impacts and Climate Analysis (TGICA) was established to facilitate co-operation between the climate modelling and climate impacts assessment communities.
The IPCC is essentially a scientific body. It reviews and assesses the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information published worldwide relevant to the understanding of climate change, and thousands of scientists from all over the world contribute to its work. Review is an essential part of the IPCC process, to ensure an objective and complete assessment of current information. The participation of the scientific community in the work of the IPCC has been growing greatly, both in terms of authors and contributors involved in the writing and the reviewing of the reports and of geographic distribution and topics covered by the reports.
However, particularly important is the endorsement of certain IPCC reports by governments, who thereby acknowledge the authority of their scientific content. This means that their contents can be communicated to other intergovernmental bodies as already agreed. The scientific evidence brought up by the first IPCC Assessment Report in 1990 unveiled the importance of climate change as a topic deserving a political platform among countries to tackle its consequences. It therefore played a significant role in leading to the creation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The IPCC is an intergovernmental body open to all member countries of UN and WMO. Governments are involved in the IPCC work as they can participate in the review process and in the IPCC plenary sessions, where main decisions about the IPCC work programme are taken and reports are accepted, adopted and approved. It is funded by regular contributions from its parent organizations WMO and UNEP, the UNFCCC and voluntary contributions by its member countries. WMO also hosts the IPCC Secretariat and WMO and UNEP provide one staff member each for the IPCC Secretariat.
International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES)
The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) was found in 1902 with a mission to facilitate scientific understanding of natural resources in the North Atlantic. Its founding instruments were renewed in 1964, and re-endorsed in 2002 at 100th anniversary of its establishment. By 2006 the ICES convention was adhered to by all 20 States on the North Atlantic coast.
The ICES Convention strongly commits all Parties to supply necessary data and scientists to conduct the work to achieve the objectives of the convention which include (i) to promote and encourage research and investigations for the study of the sea particularly those related to the living resources, and (ii) to publish or otherwise disseminate the results of research and investigations carried out under its auspices or to encourage its publication.
The ICES Advisory Programme is shaped to advise on the sustainable use of living marine resources and protection of the marine environment. Based on national data and scientific expertise from all ICES countries, and scrutinized by internal and external peer review and stakeholder involvement, the ICES advice guarantees the highest possible level of excellence, independence and objectivity. This scientific advice is provided to processes ranging from implementation of the OSPAR Convention to agreement on EC fisheries policy.
As an intergovernmental body, ICES network relies almost exclusively on the availability of member states to supply it data and scientific capacity. Its annual work programme is approved at the Annual Statutory Meetings of the ICES Council. Two high representatives (Delegates) of each member state contribute to the decisions and take the responsibility that their national institutes will carry out the work which was defined by Council.
The ICES Science Programme is committed to (i) understanding how marine ecosystems function, (ii) understanding and quantifying human impacts on marine ecosystems, and (ii) evaluating options for sustainable marine-related industries, especially fishing and mariculture. ICES coordinates science and provides advice on a wide range of issues of a short- to medium-term nature through over a hundred Expert Groups. This requires undertaking diverse activities – from coordinating research to enhancing understanding of population and ecosystem processes, through monitoring programmes, assessments, and their methodologies; to strategies, decision support tools, and implementation.
Structurally ICES is organized into a "science area" (overseen by a Science Committee), an "advisory area" under Advisory Committees (including the Advisory Committee for Fishery Management, the Advisory Committee of Ecosystems and Advisory Committee of Marine Environment), and a professional secretariat which serves the Council and the ICES Scientific Network. The network consists of approximately 1600 marine scientists in 200 Institutions in Member States and Affiliate Countries organized in over 100 Expert Groups, 8 Science Committees, and three Advisory Committees.
Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF)
The Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) is an international organisation that is working to make the world's biodiversity data accessible anywhere in the world. Its members include countries and international organisations who have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that they will share biodiversity data and contribute to the development of increasingly effective mechanisms for making those data available via the Internet.
GBIF is unique in that it is not a physical infrastructure, but a distributed and digital one that builds on the collective efforts and contributions of thousands of scientists in hundreds of institutes in many countries around the world, providing the tools and guidance that help them make that data available, and the online tools to help others use it.
GBIF facilitates the work of a number of different governmental and non-governmental organizations, universities and scientists around the world, organizes a number of symposia and workshops, and sponsors an annual science symposium with a different focus every year. The 2009 science symposium will look at biodiversity and climate change and the role that datasets can play in understanding the effects of climate change on biodiversity and identifying mitigation options.
The intention of the strategic plan is that during the current five year period (2008-11), GBIF will become much more useful to its users by greatly improving the GBIF Data Portal system and the underlying web services, focusing in a major way on Participant Nodes and user communities, and emphasizing the improvement and description of data quality. In extending its work with user communities GBIF is increasing its collaboration with a wide range of organizations in order to explore the value of the data available, and to seek to combine it with other data meaningfully.
Examples of coordination mechanisms and their components relevant to the science-policy interface Biodiversity Liaison Group
The Biodiversity Liaison Group (BLG) was established following decision VII/26 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which called for the establishment of a liaison group to enhance coherence and cooperation in the implementation of the biodiversity-related conventions. The group initially consisted of the heads of the secretariats of the CBD, Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and World Heritage Convention. In 2006, the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA) joined the group.
Following an informal first meeting in June 2004,107 the second meeting of the BLG was held in October 2004. The BLG decided to limit the number of issues it would deal with, in order to ensure focus and progress in implementation. Two priority issues were agreed: the 2010 biodiversity target, and the proposed Global Partnership on Biodiversity. The focus would be on individual contributions to both issues, and what could be strategically done together towards achieving the 2010 target, monitoring and measuring progress in its implementation and reporting.
At the third meeting in May 2005, the BLG agreed that the 2010 biodiversity target “can provide a unifying focus for cooperation among all relevant Conventions and organizations”. It was further recognised that “the Framework of goals and targets to evaluate progress towards the 2010 target (adopted by CBD Decision VII/30) can be applied mutatis mutandis to all five conventions”. The group agreed that “it would be useful for each Convention, as appropriate, to adopt indicators that are consistent with the Framework of goals and targets adopted by the CBD. This would help to promote coherence among the conventions in policy and implementation and would, for example, foster greater efficiency in reporting”. It was also agreed to prepare a joint paper on options for enhanced cooperation among the five biodiversity-related conventions, which would be made available to upcoming meetings of the participating MEAs.
The fourth meeting of the BLG, which took place in October 2005, discussed a comparison of the mode of work of the scientific bodies of the five conventions undertaken by CITES. It was agreed that such a review could help to identify possible ways to strengthen communication among the scientific bodies of the conventions. In this regard, the BLG also considered that an informal meeting of the Chairs of their respective scientific bodies would be of great benefit, noting that “of particular interest will be to compare how the scientific bodies define their role and how they find the right balance between science and politics”. In addition, the value of harmonizing taxonomic standards and usage of scientific names among the conventions was identified.108
At its fifth meeting in September 2006, the 2010 biodiversity target was further discussed, in addition to the Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines on Sustainable Use of Biodiversity as adopted by the CBD. The meeting welcomed the decision by the GEF Council to approve the 2010 Biodiversity Indicators Partnership (2010 BIP), recognising that the project would deliver information relevant to all conventions by disaggregating data according to the components of biodiversity on which the conventions focus. The meeting discussed specific expectations from each partner vis-à-vis the 2010 BIP, and their contributions to the process, and it was agreed that BLG members should inform the project about their needs. It was also agreed to include the 2010 BIP as a standing item on the agenda of future BLG meetings, and to invite UNEP-WCMC to report on progress. In addition, the meeting agreed to organise a meeting of chairs of the scientific and technical bodies or advisory bodies of the biodiversity-related conventions together with representatives of the secretariats and UNEP.
Following on from the meeting of the Chairs of the Scientific Advisory Bodies of Biodiversity-related Conventions (see below), the BLG, at its sixth meeting in May 2008, addressed, among others, the harmonization of nomenclature and taxonomy. CITES and CMS were reported to be working towards harmonizing their nomenclature and taxonomy, work which would be finalised in 2009. The meeting also discussed the forthcoming third edition of the Global Biodiversity Outlook, to be published by the CBD in 2010. It was stated that BLG input was desirable to develop a feeling of ‘ownership’ of the process and products. By contributing to the work on indicators, for example by disaggregating species-related information to allow specific statements about migratory species or endangered species in trade, BLG members were already part of the process. The meeting also discussed the 2010 BIP and decided that the individual MEAs should pursue establishing their specific indicators in full harmonization with the CBD framework on targets and indicators and the 2010 BIP and should also engage in the process of designing a post-2010 target109.
In summary, while the primary focus of the Biodiversity Liaison Group is not science, it has addressed a small number of items related to the use of science by the biodiversity-related conventions, such as the 2010 biodiversity target and the related 2010 biodiversity indicators, and the use of standardised species nomenclature and taxonomy. It has discussed possible ways for all participating MEAs to contribute to related activities, for example the publication of the Global Biodiversity Outlook. It has therefore provided some of the impetus for ensuring a more coordinated approach to issues where there are strong scientific interests.