Does IPBES care about biodiversity and ecosystem services and agriculture?

by Jeremy Cherfas on January 24, 2013

This week the Intergovernmental Platform on Bioversity and Ecosystem Services — IPBES to its friends1 — has been enjoying its first plenary meeting in Bonn, of all places. You can read the dailies here, but you won’t learn much.

You can also read things by other people present. I was touched by a blog post from Guy Pe’er, representing the Europe Section of the Society for Conservation Biology2 He wrote about the “stakeholder day” held last Sunday to agree their position on certain things, and among the poignant items on which the stakeholders agreed was this gem.

We are not “lobbyists”: we hold knowledge and inputs without which IPBES may fail, and they need to do a bit more to include this “we” into both structure and processes, rather than just “observe” processes or “be welcome” to make suggestions.

I don’t doubt it. I wonder, though, to what extent either the IPBES or the stakeholders represent agriculture. So far, in three days of meeting the word “agriculture” has appeared only once in those dailies, and that as the name of a organisation of the UN. Searching for “IPBES AND agriculture” doesn’t hold out much hope.

Footnotes:
  1. If it has any. []
  2. Of which I am a member. []

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Dave Wood January 27, 2013 at 2:05 pm

It is almost certain that the IPBES will go nowhere but at great cost and with square wheels. It is already dominated by conservation biologists rather than the production biologists that actually deliver – through agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
They will try to equate species richness with ecosystem service supply. They will forget that is `easy’ environments any old biota will flourish and deliver more or less. But when the chips are down and conditions get tough, only specialized species survive and deliver. Think boreal forests, sea-grass beds, Rhizophora mangroves, salt marshes (for sports turf), Alnus on mountains, Bromus tectorum and other indroduced species (`aliens’ in conservation-speak), lots of monodominant tropical forest and palm groves, all working to deliver lots from few specialist species (and hundreds more examples if you actually look around rather than sitting in meetings). These will be ignored in favour of `biomass from species-rich prairie’ and the like.
And what about agriculture and water management. All the services of irrigation water and lots of nice eroded soil on agricultural terraces plus lots of food. Yet another UN-associated talk-shop going nowhere.

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Luigi Guarino January 28, 2013 at 4:59 pm

And here’s a report from Bioversity.

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