Senckenberg Research

Symposium 4
Symposium 4 (Mon, Oct. 3rd, 14:30-16:00):

Biodiversity science in support of policy and sustainability


Biodiversity and its many functions are being lost at an accelerating rate. Science provides critical evidence documenting this change and delivers the necessary knowledge for a sustainable management of biodiversity and ecosystem resources. New processes such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services now provide a platform for scientists to more directly inform policies for a transition towards a more sustainable use of resources. In this symposium we will explore these new pathways for engagement and highlight examples, new research and networks in support of biodiversity monitoring, conservation, and policy.





Walter Jetz (Yale University)


IPBES: Biodiversity science in support of decision making
  • Anne Larigauderie (IPBES)

IPBES, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, was established in 2012, as a mechanism to provide policy relevant knowledge on biodiversity and ecosystem services in response to requests from policy makers (it is sometimes called the “IPCC for biodiversity”). Its membership includes 127 governments, and its secretariat is hosted by the German Governments on the UN campus in Bonn.

The work of IPBES revolves around four functions:

  • Assess knowledge (i.e. synthesise and critically evaluate available knowledge);
  • Support policy;
  • Build capacity; and
  • Catalyse the generation of new knowledge.

In 2016, IPBES released its two first assessment reports on biodiversity and ecosystem services: pollination and scenarios and models. In 2018, five additional assessment reports (four regional assessments and an assessment of land degradation and restoration) will be released. IPBES is also preparing a “Global Assessment of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services”, to be released in 2019, almost 15 years after the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.

There are currently close to one thousand experts from all regions of the world involved in the preparation of assessments and in the other work performed by IPBES.

The talk will provide an overview of progress in the implementation of the first work programme of IPBES. It will show how the work of IPBES is being used to inform policy making at the national and international levels, drawing, in particular, from the pollination assessment.  It will explain, for example, how IPBES is working with the Convention on Biological Diversity and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification. The talk will also highlight opportunities for the scientific community to contribute to the work of IPBES.


Strengthening impact from biodiversity science in policy and society - looking beyond 2020
  • Neville Ash (UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre)

Whilst there remain hugely important research agendas to pursue, we have more than sufficient knowledge to better manage and conserve biodiversity, and achieve more sustainable development. Beyond filling gaps in knowledge, the big challenges lie in the application of science in policy, and by society. Originating mainly in the scientific community, various tools and approaches have been developed and deployed at different scales to support the uptake of science in policy, and in both public and private sector decision making. These have had variable success to date. As we look towards a post-2020 biodiversity agenda in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals, the biodiversity community needs to consider how science can best inform the development of a new policy agenda, and how individuals through to international institutions can be persuaded off the back of available science to do things differently in the future.


A new European Science-policy interface on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services: EKLIPSE’s approach to support policy making
  • Alexandra Lux (Senckenberg & Institute for Social-Ecological Research)

How to provide knowledge for political decision-making on biodiversity and ecosystem services? The most prominent answer hereupon is the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). But there are also regional attempts to improve the science-policy interface. The talk will introduce a European mechanism for policy advice that is currently developed by the EU project EKLIPSE. This mechanism builds on the idea that interface processes
(1) need to activate existing knowledge holders in and beyond science in order to
(2) establish reliable processes for addressing decision-makers’ questions by
(3) using diverse methods to obtain the synthesis of existing knowledge.
The mechanism’s aims and structures, and the recent experiences with this mechanism will be presented. Finally, these experiences will be discussed against the background of the challenges for such attempts in terms of being credible, relevant, legitimated and transparent.


Global-scale multi-model assessment of river flow regime shifts at different global warming levels
  • Hannes Müller Schmied (Goethe-University Frankfurt)

River flow regime alterations can influence human water supply, navigation, hydropower generation and flooding, but also ecosystems are affected by shifts from perennial to intermittent flow regimes or vice versa, affecting the habitat suitability for freshwater-dependent biota.
Climate change has the potential to alter substantially these river flow regimes. Global-scale studies evaluating those impacts are, nevertheless, still rare, especially when executed in a multi-model setting using more than one hydrological model.
In this contribution, we evaluate regime shifts between intermittent and perennial conditions under different degrees of global warming using the output of an ensemble of global climate model-global hydrological model combinations provided within in the framework of the Inter-Sectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project ( By using the World Database of Protected Areas and the RAMSAR database, we assess the impact on highly valued natural areas.