IPBES, the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, was established in April 2012 following seven years of negotiations. ICSU through its global environmental change programmes and in particular DIVERSITAS, played an active role in advocating for and shaping its creation as a non-governmental organisation representing the international scientific community.


IPBES is an international science-policy platform, with similarities to IPCC, which provides policy relevant scientific information on biodiversity and ecosystem services in response to requests from governments and other stakeholders. IPBES operates under the auspices of UNEP, UNESCO, FAO and UNDP.

In 2013, IPBES adopted, at its second plenary (December 2013, Antalya, Turkey) an ambitious programme of work for 2014–18 including capacity building activities, fast-track methodological and thematic assessments (such as the one on pollination, pollinators and food security published in 2015 and the land degradation and restoration expected to be finalised in 2018), methodological assessments (e.g. on scenarios and modelling of biodiversity and ecosystem services); a set of regional and sub-regional assessments; and importantly, the initiation of a global assessment of biodiversity and ecosystem services, a decade after the publication of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. IPBES in its initial programme of work has also put a lot of emphasis in developing a strategy and mechanism for stakeholder engagement in IPBES work and inclusion of indigenous and local knowledge systems.

ICSU led the input of the scientific community during the negotiation phase and its early implementation phase providing views (plenary statements, written contributions) on all aspects of IPBES including rules of procedure, the conceptual framework, the programme of work, and the involvement of non-governmental stakeholders. ICSU has been nominating scientists for expert workshops and contributions to the various deliverables of IPBES since the start. ICSU, together with IUCN, worked on the stakeholder engagement strategy, and co-chaired, with IUCN, the multi-stakeholder forum of IPBES up until 2015.

Future Earth, continuing the engagement of the global environmental change programmes, plays a leading role in mobilising the scientific community in IPBES and providing major contribution to IPBES deliverables, and in filling gaps in the science related to IPBES’ work. ICSU plays a supporting role to IPBES as an observer, mobilising its members to participate in the major deliverables of IPBES and strengthening the science-policy interface on major global issues at global and national level.