Report of the Executive Secretary on the implementation
of the work programme for the period 2014–2018
Progress report on the implementation of the regional and subregional assessments on biodiversity and ecosystem services (deliverable 2 (b))
Note by the secretariat
At its third session, the Plenary of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services approved the undertaking of four regional and subregional assessments for Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, and Europe and Central Asia (hereinafter called regional assessments), in accordance with the procedures for the preparation of the Platform’s deliverables set out in annex I to decision IPBES-3/3, the generic scoping report for the regional assessments of biodiversity and ecosystem services set out in annex III to decision IPBES-3/1, and the scoping reports for each of the four regional assessments (decision IPBES-3/1, annexes
IV–VII), for consideration by the Plenary at its sixth session.
The annex to the present note sets out a report on the composition of the groups of experts selected to produce the assessments and on progress in their work. It is presented without formal editing.
Progress report on the implementation of the regional and subregional assessments on biodiversity and ecosystem services (deliverable 2 (b))
1.The overall scope of the regional assessments is to assess the status and trends regarding biodiversity, ecosystem functions and ecosystem services and their interlinkages, the impact of biodiversity, ecosystem functions and ecosystem services and threats to them on good quality of life, and the effectiveness of responses, including the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020 and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets, the Sustainable Development Goals, and the National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans developed under the Convention on Biological Diversity. The assessments will address terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and marine biodiversity, ecosystem functions and ecosystem services.
2.The overall objective of the regional assessments is to strengthen the science-policy interface on biodiversity, ecosystem functions and ecosystem services at the regional and subregional levels.
II. Composition of the expert groups performing the regional assessments
A. Dedicated Multidisciplinary Expert Panel and Bureau members and management committees
3.In accordance with the rules of procedures for the preparation of the Platform’s deliverables (decision IPBES-2/3, annex), members of the Multidisciplinary Expert Panel and Bureau relevant to each region oversee the production of the regional assessment reports. A sub-set of this group from the relevant regions is part of the management committees of each of the four regional assessments.
4.Management committees were constituted for each of the regional assessments in order to oversee progress towards preparation of the regional assessment reports, and to make or inform decisions specific to individual assessments. The management committees consist of the Multidisciplinary Expert Panel and Bureau members mentioned above, co-chairs of the assessment and members of the technical support unit, as well as representatives of the IPBES secretariat. Management committee meetings are held, usually remotely, at regular intervals.
B. Update on additional experts
5.In 2015, the co-chairs, coordinating lead authors and lead authors of the four regional assessments were selected from the original pool of nominations (please see IPBES/4/INF/10). Fellows were also selected, through a separate application process. From early 2016 onwards, review editors were selected following the procedure for filling gaps among groups of experts (annex I to decision IPBES-4/3).
6.In 2016, it became clear that the different regional assessments were being affected, to a varying degree, by inadequate contribution or unresponsiveness on the part of some authors. In order to address the issue in a consistent, objective and transparent manner, the Multidisciplinary Expert Panel and Bureau provided guidance to the co-chairs and coordinating lead authors to request the respective authors to resign so that new authors could be selected to provide the contributions required. This approach has been piloted since September 2016 and has so far led to the replacement of several authors.
7.The procedure for filling gaps was also used to fill gaps in disciplinary and geographic balance for all four regional assessments. This was especially important for chapters for which a number of authors had resigned, or in chapters where experts were unresponsive.
8.The composition of the expert groups is presented in appendix I to the present annex.
III. Progress towards preparation of the regional assessment reports
First order drafts and external reviews
9.The first order drafts of the four regional assessment reports underwent an external review between 30 May and 18 July 2016. The comments were collated by the respective technical support units and shared with the authors and review editors at the end of July 2016, in preparation for the joint second author meeting that took place in Bonn, Germany from 22-26 August 2016.
10.During the external review phase, the African regional assessment report received 1060 comments, by 34 external reviewers of which 2 were Governments. The Americas regional assessment report received 1646 comments, by 42 external reviewers of which two were governments. The Asia Pacific assessment report received 1060 comments, by 34 external reviewers of which 2 were Governments. The Europe and Central Asia assessment received 2720 comments, by 63 external reviewers, of which two were Governments.
B. Joint second author meeting
11.The joint second author meeting for the regional assessments as well as the land degradation and restoration assessment was held from 22 to 26 August 2016 in Bonn, Germany. It was attended by review editors, co-chairs, coordinating lead authors and liaison experts of the five assessments as well as members of the IPBES task forces, Multidisciplinary Expert Panel and Bureau, and members of the secretariat, including its technical support units.
12.Participants addressed comments from the external review and worked on further developing the content of their chapters. Participants also started to develop their key messages based on their chapters’ executive summaries, as well as their summary for policymakers. The meeting provided also an opportunity to share lessons learned and to promote coherence between the assessments. Feedback from the authors of the different assessments indicated that meeting with authors from similar chapters from other assessments was productive, and helped to harmonize and compare progress; to identify gaps and possible areas of improvements; to discuss potential solutions to common issues; and to define a common route to address cross chapter issues. In this context, the topic of ‘liaison experts’ between the assessments was discussed, and liaison teams established to address overarching topics between the similar chapters of the five assessments.
13.To encourage coherence between the regional assessments, it was decided that the first chapters of all four regional assessments would use similar text to present common rules and concepts (e.g. the IPBES conceptual framework).
14.Common concepts and procedures under development were discussed (e.g. a core set of indicators, terrestrial and aquatic units of analysis, nature’s contributions’ to people framework, and maps to be used for the assessments).
15.The joint second author meeting also provided the regional assessment teams with an opportunity to liaise with the land degradation and restoration assessment team. The coordination between the land degradation and restoration assessment on one hand, and the regional assessments on the other hand, was deemed insufficient. In general, a majority of the experts of land degradation involved in regional assessments were more engaged in their respective regional assessment than in the land degradation and restoration assessment. The lack of opportunity for these experts to also attend the land degradation and restoration author meetings, in addition to the regional author meetings, may partly explain the weakness of this link. The co-chairs of the five assessments agreed on a new scheme to promote interaction with one expert from each one of the five chapters related to nature’s contributions to people, status and trends, drivers, scenarios and modelling, and policy support from each of the five assessments to form five thematic liaison groups and ensure consistency of terminology and of treatment of land degradation and restoration issues through virtual interactions.
C. Capacity-building workshops
16.In order to provide an additional opportunity for experts to work together to improve their drafts, and to, in particular promote the integration of newly selected experts having been brought in replacement of unresponsive ones, “writing workshops” will be convened from 30 January to 3 February 2017 and from 13 to 17 February 2017 for the regional assessment for Europe and Central and the regional assessment for Africa, respectively, by the technical support units for the relevant regions, for capacity building, and the secretariat.
17.The Europe and Central Asia regional assessment writing workshop aims to involve contributing authors from Central Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, as these subregions are less well represented in terms of authors and content of the assessment report. The workshop aims to engage participants in developing content for the assessment report. Additional contributing authors from Central Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia have been identified by MEP and Bureau members and current members of the expert group. The workshop will allow authors to work in English and in Russian, with Russian text to be translated into English by authors of the assessment that are fluent in both languages.
18.The African writing workshop will encompass a large segment of the authorship of the African regional assessment and its objective is to significantly refine the content of all six chapters of the assessment report before the external review of the second order draft. New experts, replacing those who have resigned, will join the current authors at the African writing workshop.
19.It was decided that a common structure will be adhered to for summaries for policymakers of the regional assessments, based on the policy-relevant questions that were raised in the generic scoping document for the regional assessments (IPBES-3/1, annex III). In order to further support the delivery and quality of the summary for policymakers, a writing workshop is being organized by the capacity building taskforce with the co-chairs and coordination lead authors of the four regional assessments and the land degradation and restoration assessment in Oslo, Norway from 27 February to 2 March 2017.
20.Potential capacity building activities to fill gaps in the Asia-Pacific, Americas and land degradation and restoration assessments are currently being discussed.
D. Other workshops of relevance to the regional assessments
21.In order to facilitate the consideration of indigenous and local knowledge and practices into the regional assessments, the task force on indigenous and local knowledge organised regional indigenous and local knowledge dialogue workshops for each of the regional assessments in 2015 and 2016. The meetings were attended by invited indigenous and local knowledge holders and experts, and experts of the regional assessments. Proceedings of the dialogue workshops serve as references for the respective regional assessment reports.
22.In the Asia-Pacific region, three additional dialogue workshops have been organised at the subregional level, for Southeast and Northeast Asia, the Pacific, and South and West Asia, allowing further contributions and engagement of indigenous and local knowledge holders/experts. These workshops were supported by the Japan Biodiversity Fund through the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
23.In addition, two workshops were held in 2016 (25 to 27 January in Bilthoven, the Netherlands and 15 to 18 November in Shonan Village, Japan) by the expert group on scenarios and models, supported by its technical support unit, to support the regional assessment and the land degradation and restoration assessment with regards to finding relevant studies about scenarios and models and analyse/synthesize those for the relevant chapters. The workshops assisted the regional assessment teams in finding common ground and consistency amongst the scenarios chapters and also provided pathways for the regional assessments to inform the IPBES global assessment and the land degradation and restoration assessment.
24.The technical support unit for the regional assessment of Europe and Central Asia received support from the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment to convene a meeting for all members of the expert group of that assessment in Zadar, Croatia, from 5 to 9 September 2016. The purpose of the meeting was to develop the content of the assessment report, including through the consideration of comments received during its first external review.
25.An additional workshop for the development of the summary for policymakers for the regional assessment for Europe and Central Asia will also be held, prior to the Oslo event, in Bern from 11 to 13 January 2017.
26.Finally, several workshops on the diverse conceptualizations of value have been organized by the core group on values in order to catalyse the use of the IPBES guide on values within the ongoing regional and thematic assessments. The workshops introduced the guide to experts in Africa, the Americas and the Asia-Pacific regions, reflecting on its generic application at the regional and local level. These workshops were supported by SwedBio and hosted or organized by local organizations such as the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (South Africa), in collaboration with the Technical Support Unit for the Africa Assessment, the Humboldt Institute (Colombia), and the Wildlife Institute of India (India). For the regional assessment of Europe and Central Asia, the values workshop took the form of a session at the aforementioned meeting in Zadar.
E. Preparation of the second order draft of the regional assessments and the first order draft of the summaries for policymakers
27.The second order drafts of the regional assessment reports and of the land degradation and restoration assessment report and the first order drafts of their respective summaries for policymakers are to be submitted to the secretariat by the end of April 2017. Both sets of documents will be submitted for external review from 1 May 2017 to 26 June 2017, with the exception of the Americas regional assessment report and its summary for policymakers, which will be submitted for external review from 29 May to 24 July 2017.
F. Third author meetings
28.Third author meetings will be held, separately for each region, to respond to comments from the second external review and to fine-tune the drafts of the reports and their summary for policymakers. Co-chairs, coordinating lead authors, lead authors, review editors and fellows will be invited to attend the meetings for their region, together with relevant members of the Multidisciplinary Expert Panel, Bureau, task forces and secretariat.
29.An updated annotated timeline per region is provided in appendix II to this annex.
Appendix I: List of experts for the regional assessments on biodiversity and ecosystem services
Abbreviations: CLA (Coordinating Lead Author), LA (Lead Author), LA 3bi (Land degradation and restoration assessment expert working as thematic expert within the regional assessment), RE (Review Editor). Fellows were selected through the fellowship programme for capacity building of IPBES.
Author list for the regional assessment for Africa