Researchers at IPBES, the global scientific platform on biodiversity, are expected from April 29 to May 6 in Paris.

They will deliver a crucial report on the state of species and ecosystems, before the big UN 2020 meeting in China.

► What is IPBES?

The acronym has something to put off … Even though the IPBES, that is to say in French the "intergovernmental scientific and political platform on biodiversity", refers to a major and very concrete topic: the state of nature, hard-hit in recent decades.

According to the WWF, between 1970 and 2014, "Vertebrate populations – fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles – have fallen by 60% globally" while a study published on February 10th showed an alarming collapse of insect populations (1).

"In 75% of French territory, nature goes rather badly"

The operation of IPBES, which will hold its 7e session in Paris from April 29 to May 6, 2019, reminds that of the Giec, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (but not part of the UN). Not only because IPBES mobilizes the world's best biodiversity researchers and, in good jargon, the "ecosystem services" – 500 scientists are involved in total.

But also because its highly anticipated evaluation report has to be adopted by state governments. It is therefore both a scientific and a political entity, with a key advantage: once adopted, the report and its "summary for decision-makers" serve as a consensual basis for action.

► Why is this meeting in Paris crucial?

Released on May 6, this three-year work, conducted on all continents and in all environments – terrestrial, marine and freshwater – will be "The first assessment of biodiversity at this scale for 15 years"stresses Anne Larigauderie, Executive Secretary of IPBES, while recalling that this synthesis will go beyond hard science studies from Western laboratories: "We will give an important place to the social sciences and knowledge of indigenous peoples"she continues.

On the Côte Bleue, the marine fauna regains its rights

The stakes are high: to make this shared scientific data a base for the political action of as many states as possible. With the hope of placing biodiversity as high as climate on the global agenda – which is far from being the case today. "As for the climate and the Cop 21, Paris could give a precious boost for the next events", hope Anne Larigauderie.

The first political meeting will be immediate, with the holding on 5 and 6 May, the G7 environment ministers, in Metz. But the major milestone will be that of COP 15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity, to be held at the end of 2020 in Kunming, China.

Everything remains to be done because, until now, global governance has not been proven. Thus, the "Aichi objectives" that expire in 2020 (fight against overfishing, intensive agriculture, end of harmful subsidies, etc.) are far from being achieved.

Marine Lamoureux

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