Positive Visions for Biodiversity (2010)

Recommendations by the participants of the meeting Positive Visions for Biodiversity which took place in November 2010, under the Belgian EU presidency, concerning:




The participants of this meeting decided that by 2050, a sustainable relationship with biodiversity will have been established through:

  • 1-Governance that is more transparent and effective and that balances global and local responsibilities
  • 2-Sustainable and participatory management of land, seascapes and urban areas
  • 3-A sustainable human population
  • 4-High technology that is used to build a low-tech world that enhances and protects biodiversity
  • 5-Sustainable renewable energy and transportation
  • 6-Sustainable food production, using minimum energy and resources
  • 7-Efficient use of resources through responsible production and consumption, recycling and eliminating waste
  • 8-The integration of biodiversity into every part of life
  • 9-Transforming the economic paradigm to reflect fully biodiversity and human values
  • 10-Values and behaviours appropriate to a more harmonious way of life.


Under each of these topics, the participants drafted a number of recommendations translated into "Goals" and "Target". These are available in the report of the meeting


Following this meeting, the EPBRS experts met on 18-19 November 2010 and recommended the following:


To ensure more transparent and effective governance, research is needed on:

  • Ways to mainstream biodiversity into governance at each level and in each sector without losing local specificities (cultural, ethical values) through up-scaling


To implement more participatory and efficient management of land, seas and urban areas in the context of global change, research is needed on:

  • Proactive and creative management connecting monitoring with the development of scenarios in dynamic social-ecological systems 
  • Where to designate protected areas and how to manage them in the face of global change
  • Relations between adaptation of ecosystems to diverse pressures, their resilience across different scales, and their ability to provide ecosystem services


To develop sustainable use of resources (energy, raw materials…), research should focus specifically on:

  • Building scenarios on dynamic links between carrying capacity and resource use, incorporating:
    a. Scales (spatial/temporal – incl. migration)
    b.Technology (levels, new)
    c. Biodiversity and ecosystem services  
  • "Life cycle impacts of products on organisms, populations and their interactions in ecosystems
  • Incentives to move society towards transition communities (building for biodiversity, permaculture, local energy, local jobs…)
  • The transition from modern industrial intensive toward traditional or innovative low impact practices
  • Better understanding of ecosystems as models for a more effective use of energy nutrients, water and natural carbon cycles (sequestration)


To contribute to a more sustainable food production, research is needed on:

  • New ways of assigning prices to food production, internalizing the diverse and multiple costs of food production related to biodiversity 
  • An ecosystem approach to food production based on co-cultivation of multiple species for multiple services, without waste production


To contribute to a better communication and more appropriate education to ensure biodiversity is integrated at all levels and into every part of life, research should focus on:

  • Sociological, philosophical and linguistic studies on the implications of the concepts currently used and to develop new terms for less loaded discussion 
  • The effects of environmental and sustainability education on values and behavior, and on obstacles for successful implementation of existing advanced teaching methods
  • Education that encourages a holistic understanding of the role of biodiversity in technology, energy, and transport and focuses thought on what is necessary, not what is possible
  • The effectiveness of ways and methods used to communicate the importance of biodiversity, including the assessment of different media, different types of information and different processes (e.g. experiential, participative dialogue)
  • The communication challenge posed by the common acceptance of economic growth as paradigm (use the economic crisis as an opportunity for changing the paradigm, This should include understanding of the precautionary principle and uncertainty.


To understand the value systems used to account for biodiversity in our economy and in all different fields and sectors, research is needed on:

  • Different value systems, including their fundamental principles, how value systems can change and how people can get inspired and engaged, especially for biodiversity
  • The role of biodiversity in economics and the value systems that are used to assess biodiversity across various disciplines, including but not limited to economics   
  • Non-economical ways of valuing biodiversity (cultural, ethical aspects) as part of our natural capital 



Recommended changes in research

How do we most effectively conduct research to tackle these essential research topics?

Some key principles relevant for all research priorities were extracted from the discussion results and are reported below. A comprehensive report of all suggestions is available.


  • 1. Engaging a wide range of experts and stakeholders

In order to better address complex biodiversity-related issues, a number of ideasrelated to engagement of a broader range of experts and stakeholders. This included the need to develop large networks and large projects involving different disciplines with appropriate funding and incentives. Another idea was to increase the use of participatory processes and engagement of stakeholders, citizens and local communities in scientific projects. This could be developed through a diversity of means such as citizen science, conferences, public talks, surveys, etc. 

Participants also highlighted the need for an efficient transfer of scientific results to stakeholders (policy makers, wider society, etc), and the importance of linking better scientific knowledge on global change with knowledge of local communities on ecosystems and landscapes to develop adaptation strategies. 

A key issue that came out of these discussions was the need to implement effective Interdisciplinary Research (IDRR) and to explore transdisciplinary approaches for knowledge generation that would serve as a tool to reach integrative research and efficient interfaces with stakeholders.


  • 2. Implementing interdisciplinary/transdisciplinary research: the need to structure research institutions and funding to address complex issues related to biodiversity

The call for more interdisciplinary research is not new but there is still much to do to create and support more efficient interdisciplinary projects. 

Discussion highlighted the current obstacles to implementing IDR such as the need to address side requirements (e.g. geographical balance, gender etc), the difficulty to deal with very different cultural references between scientific disciplines (e.g. methodology, vocabulary, conceptual approaches etc), and the question of evaluating IDR projects as real interdisciplinary experts might be lacking or incentives to carry IDR might be limited. 

Participants suggested developing Science/Science interfaces in order to bring institutions and working groups together and even to establish centers of excellence on cross-cutting issues. Participants also suggested that IDR should be integrated in all scientific education to ensure better networking and understanding between scientific disciplines. 

Although not a goal in itself, all participants agreed that innovative ways for collaboration between disciplines (interdisciplinary to transdisciplinary) were now a critical requirement for generating the knowledge needed to address the biodiversity crisis.  Research institutions and funding agencies should have a responsibility to support the development of these multidisciplinary networks in order to help build capable consortia based on trust and long-term collaboration. 

In this context, participants saw a need for top down, structured research programmes supported by operational tools. Participants suggested to organize research programmes around a focused goal and structured questions which could attract and gather scientists (e.g. management of social-ecological systems), allowing for increased interactions between disciplines. 

This significant research effort on complex systems would need to rely on infrastructure and tools (e.g. models, databanks, monitoring networks, etc.), in particular tools to integrate and mobilize different kinds of information from various disciplines with more efforts toward sharing information and improving open access to publications and data.  Using existing networks (monitoring and site networks such as the Long Term Ecological Research network  (LTER), the Man and Biosphere programme of UNESCO (MAB), should be more promoted as well as the use of new technologies (e.g. GIS, internet, wikis, etc.).

Scientific career management was also highlighted as an area, which needed more attention, particularly the need to include more incentives for scientists to engage in IDR (e.g. high factors journals opening up to more IDR studies.) and innovative ways to support scientists working on improving collaborative work across disciplines and interaction with stakeholders. It might also be necessary to explore new funding mechanisms (private sector, Lifeweb, etc) that could support collaborative research.