The latest meeting of the European Platform for Biodiversity Research Strategy (EPBRS[1]) took place at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, on January 16th-18th 2012. The meeting functioned as a consultation workshop for the planned Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES[2]) and focused on the proposed assessment function of IPBES.

The event took place under the Danish Presidency of the European Union and was hosted by the Danish Ministry of Environment and the University of Copenhagen with the support of the European Environmental Agency, EEA. A EU expert meeting on a related topic took place in connection to this EPBRS workshop.

Belgium was well represented by its core EPBRS delegates and an invited scientific expert during this meeting, which in total assembled ca 90 participants of 17 countries.


EPBRS contribution to the IPBES process

EPBRS is a European forum for scientists policy makers and other stakeholders to exchange views on priorities for biodiversity research. EPBRS has been involved in the IPBES developments from the beginning. It contributed to the International Mechanism of Scientific Expertise on Biodiversity (IMOSEB) consultation that took place from 2005 to 2008 and lead to the IPBES process. EPBRS also organised a workshop in May 2009 on a Network on Knowledge for Biodiversity as a contribution from Europe to the IPBES discussions.  EPBRS has been represented in several ad-hoc Intergovernmental and Multi Stakeholder meetings on an IPBES” (2008 - 2010). As IPBES is still in its planning phase, several consultation meetings are taking place on various aspects of the IPBES work programme.  As part of this consultation process, the purpose of the latest EPBRS workshop was to reflect on the assessment function that will be implemented in IPBES.


The workshop outcomes

During the workshop, keynote speakers addressed different aspects regarding assessments, which then were further discussed within break out groups. The discussion on the lessons learned from previous and ongoing assessments were particularly fruitful. The attention was drawn on how diverse assessments could be used avoiding duplication, which methodologies and tools have already been used, and on the crucial point of ensuring that assessment results are implemented into policy. The output, a chair’s summary of key recommendations, will serve as background information for the next IPBES plenary session in Panama in April 2012.

Another outcome of the meeting was to keep the participants informed on and involved in the ongoing process that hopefully will lead to the official launch of IPBES.


IPBES impact on the Belgian research community

The planned IPBES will be an intergovernmental platform composed of biodiversity experts, who will provide governments with credible, relevant, and legitimate information regarding the status of biodiversity and of the ecosystem functions these generate. The information will be gained in a transparent process and will be based on scientific findings. The platform’s main tasks are to identify and prioritize key scientific information, to perform regular assessments of knowledge on biodiversity and ecosystem services, and to support capacity building within the science-policy interface.  


If the IPBES is officially launched, input from the Belgian research community will be expected for all functions: knowledge generation, assessments and capacity building. IPBES will identify research gaps, and funding will be required in order to provide relevant data and conduct requested assessments. Among possible requirements, it might be necessary to create a national node with scientific experts. The IPBES could especially generate opportunities to mobilize the biodiversity science community and to raise awareness on biodiversity at large.


About the EPBRS

The European Platform for Biodiversity Research Strategy (EPBRS) is an informal forum for policy makers and scientists in Europe. It was created in 1999 in order to primarily meet the need of identifying critical research priorities to better address biodiversity issues, and to develop a European biodiversity research strategy. The EPBRS products target in priority European funding programmes and agencies, such as the Directorate General for Research[3] of the European Commission and the Successive Research Framework programmes. The EPBRS also supported the development of several national biodiversity platforms such as the Austrian Platform or the German Platform, and provided opportunities for existing national platforms such as the Belgian Biodiversity Platform that serves as secretariat for EPBRS (contact Estelle Balian). The Belgian official delegates are Aline van der Werf, Belgian Science Policy office (Belspo) and Rudy Herman, senior researcher at the Department Economy, Science & Innovation (EWI) in Flanders.


The EPBRS meets twice a year in conferences gathering 60-80 participants and additionally in smaller ad-hoc workshops. The conferences are attended by official EPBRS delegates of the partner countries (nominated by government representatives members of the EU research programme committee) and additionally by invited relevant experts, including social scientists. The outputs of these meetings are disseminated and promoted at European level (e.g. DG Research and Innovation, European Council, European Parliament) and via national biodiversity platforms towards national policy makers and funding agencies.