A resolution on the establishment of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) was passed by the UN General Assembly on 20 December.
Modelled on the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the new body will provide a forum for scientists to analyse, share knowledge and report on the state, status and trends of biodiversity and ecosystems and their links with the economy.
Eventually, the IPBES is expected to table effective "transformational policy options" to reverse biodiversity loss and deliver "gold standard reports" to governments to steer action.
EU supportive of the initiative
Earlier this autumn, EU environment ministers said that authoritative and peer-reviewed scientific information delivered by IPBES is needed to "increase public understanding and trigger better-informed decision-making to safeguard nature and ecosystems".
The EU ministers also said they are committed to "mainstreaming and sectoral integration of biodiversity, especially in financial-economic systems". Particular attention would be paid to policies related to natural resources and land use management, such as agriculture, food security, forestry, fisheries, mining and energy, as well as spatial planning, transport, tourism, trade, and development, they said.
Delivering on nature protection will require "the development and application of innovative financial mechanisms" and the elimination of subsidies that harm biodiversity, the ministers added.
Towards biodiversity business
According to the UN, biodiversity, forests, freshwater and other ecosystems are of "multi-trillion dollar importance" to the global economy and to national economies.
Initiatives to integrate biodiversity into economic systems could be launched thanks to the knowledge generated by the study on the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) – part of the UN's Green Economy Initiative.
Along the lines of the UK's Stern Review on the economics of climate change, the TEEB initiative has made massive calculations in an attempt to put a price on nature services such as soil, forest or freshwater in an effort to convince policymakers to implement the 'polluter pays' principle to protect nature.
The initiative suggests adopting market-based instruments, such as additional levies, to enforce sustainable use of nature and argues that biodiversity and ecosystem conservation offer an array of new opportunities for business, which can either develop green products and services or trade biodiversity 'credits'.