Saturday, December 12, 2009

[Yasmin_discussions] Fwd: UN Platform on Biodiversity


I went to hear Professor Bob Watson, Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK
government's Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs at the Royal
Society in Edinburgh last night

A few things struck me.
His presentation was on the impact of climate change on eco-systems and
Many of his descriptions of the ways to address key challenges had a close
association with eco art projects - clearly in relation to the Harrisons
amongst others - infact some of the language was beginning to be very
familiar - including references to drain basins and cross national boundary
watershed authorities.

One area where I would have liked to ask a question is in relation to the
value he placed on cultural values which he defined in terms of aesthetic
spiritual educational and recreational. If you look at the following
powerpoint -
not the one he used, but the fourth proper slide entitled Consequence of
Ecosystem Change for Human Well-being was one he used. It suggests that he
understands cultural factors as having weak linkages and low potential for

It has to be said he at least recognises them, but it was clear to me that
he was not understanding the fundamental role of beliefs - beliefs such as
we live in a 'culture of plenty'. And more importantly he does not
understand the role of culture in changing behaviour through changing

He absolutely emphasised the importance of scientists communicating more
effectively, although his presentation failed by his own criteria - it was
jargon ridden and highly technical. I came away thinking that art science
collaboration was vital by his own definition.

The other thing that came up, which I thought would be of real interest, was
that there is an emerging parallel process to the IPCC developing around
biodiversity and eco-systems. There have been two meetings to date and a
third planned for April 2010, though the venue has not been agreed.

Whilst participation in COP15 is obviously important, it seemed to me in
relation to the work of many practices focused on ecology, biodiversity etc,
this new strand of work might be of great interest and a fruitful point of

Below is a news clipping from the UN News service on the biodiversity
Countries discuss possible UN-backed global body to tackle biodiversity

10 November 2008 – The possibility of establishing a United
Nations-supported scientific intergovernmental body to address biodiversity
loss and protect ecosystems is being discussed at a global conference which
kicked off in Malaysia today.

Representatives from governments worldwide are in Putrajaya, near the
capital Kuala Lumpur, for three days to discuss creating a body similar to
the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (
IPCC <>), which was set up in 1988 by the UN Environment
Programme (UNEP<>)
and the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

The IPCC has validated the science of climate change and has impelled an
international response to global warming, UNEP notes in a press release.

A similar impetus may help to reverse the decline of the Earth's natural
assets and spur political action.

The proposed Intergovernmental Platform or Panel on Biodiversity and
Ecosystem Services (IPBES) could trigger debate, encourage the formation of
appropriate policies and elevate the issue in the global consciousness.

"Global GDP has more than doubled in the past quarter century. In contrast,
60 per cent of the world's ecosystems have been degraded or are being used
in an unsustainable manner," said Achim Steiner, UNEP's Executive Director.

Treaties including the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention
on Migratory Species have tried to address these challenges, but have not
been able to match the pace of degradation and decline.

"There is clearly a mismatch between the reality in terms of the science and
the economics and the actual global international response, which is plainly
failing to make a sustained and transformational difference," Mr. Steiner

Chris Fremantle
+44 (0)7714 203016
Yasmin_discussions mailing list

Yasmin URL:

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE: click on the link to the list you wish to subscribe to. In the page that will appear ("info page"), enter e-mail address, name, and password in the fields found further down the page.

HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE: on the info page, scroll all the way down and enter your e-mail address in the last field. Enter password if asked. Click on the unsubscribe button on the page that will appear ("options page").

HOW TO ENABLE / DISABLE DIGEST MODE: in the options page, find the "Set Digest Mode" option and set it to either on or off.