The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) recently released its first assessments during its fourth plenary meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. How these first works will influence debates on biodiversity policies, and potentially support their implementation, will now be a point of attention for the conservation community. Thanks to its original structure and its desire to mobilize a vast diversity of knowledge, IPBES is a historic opportunity to synthesize available knowledge on the causes, rooted in human collective action, that are behind biodiversity loss. Adding more emphasis on these topics in future IPBES assessments will require the development of innovative interdisciplinary work among ecological and social sciences, and is crucial in order to find relevant policy options to halt biodiversity loss.


  • 1. While preparing the next IPBES work programme, governments should:

    a. Request and prioritize an ad hoc thematic assessment on existing policies and instruments having an effect on biodiversity worldwide;

    b. Emphasize the focus on “indirect drivers” in all their other assessment requests;

    c. Ensure that “indirect drivers”, and particularly policies and existing solutions for their implementation, are sufficiently covered in all scoping documents, with a dedicated chapter.
  • 2. IPBES should actively reinforce the contribution of social sciences to its work:

    a. Works on biodiversity-impacting policies worldwide should not be considered as policy prescriptive on the basis that they synthesize research on on-going or past governmental action; they are necessary to support effective implementation of biodiversity policies;

    b. Governments and stakeholder organizations should nominate a higher number of social scientists so that they can be in a capacity to contribute to, and also coordinate, such interdisciplinary works;

    c. Similarly, the proportion of social scientists selected as IPBES experts and coordinating lead authors should be increased.
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