The Panel on Climate Change and the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

ASJP African and Francophone Air and Space Power Journal, Vol 8, No 2, 2017, pp. 45-61

This article is examining the relationship between the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 1990) and the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES, 2012). IPCC was formed much more quickly than the IPBES, primarily due to the power-based leadership of the United States, which was absent in the process towards IPBES. Leadership by NGOs, scientists, and policymakers was also stronger in the IPCC process than with the IPBES, which became more entangled in political processes. Regarding influence on the political processes and more generally, the IPCC has had considerable success in communicating complex issues to the public, particularly in the North. This job is harder for the IPBES: The main reason for poor implementation of the CBD objectives is not a lack of scientific knowledge, but rather that biodiversity loss has not been prioritized globally, regionally, or nationally, in terms of funding or through media attention. This is partly because of the difficulty in identifying focal solutions (like the 2–degree Celsius target), and because biodiversity conservation is less amenable to technological solutions and less attractive to investments than climate change. With the accompanying and relatively low public and media attention, the scope for the IPBES to contribute appears rather marginal. Nevertheless, an important lesson to be drawn from the IPCC is that it takes time to become relevant and influential.