Thursday, July 20, 2006

Academics call for new Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity

In the latest issue of Nature, 19 academics including Michel Loreau, Alfred Oteng-Yeboah, and Peter Raven call for a new Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity to be set up to advise governments on the issues surrounding biodiversity just as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) provides expert advice on policies bearing on climate change. As the editor's summary in Nature points out, ecological issues are frequently complex, and politicians may not fully comprehend the degree to which ecological and environmental issues are linked together with other policy considerations. As the BBC article comments: "Even when [ecosystem] services could be protected, they often are not, sometimes because policymakers are not acting on the available science."

Of course critics might say that this body will only add to the glut of NGOs which are involved in conservation, such as the IUCN, the UNEP, and the WWF. How the new IPB will be able to distinguish itself from the rest of them, and how it will be able to raise funds and awareness where the others have failed, remains to be seen. Of course the final arbiter of its effectiveness will be whether it can stem the loss of biodiversity and change people's attitudes to the conservation of nature. It is certainly a very difficult task: to induce politicians to consider the long term good of an undefinable future constituency over short-term political expediency would require deep-rooted changes to human nature. If it does not succeed, it will simply be another talk shop wasting our resources and disappointing the hopes of many well-meaning individuals. This blog awaits future developments with bated breath.

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