IPBES chooses Young Fellows from CEED

ECRs to contribute to an international effort to save the planet’s biodiversity

Vanessa Adams and Sugeng Budiharta are two early-career conservation scientists based at the University of Queensland working with CEED. Their science will soon be informing international efforts to save biodiversity as they have just been selected as Young Fellows of IPBES.

IPBES stands for the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (http://ipbes.net/). It’s an independent intergovernmental body established by the United Nations in 2012 to provide policy advice to governments at all levels to protect the world’s precious biodiversity. It now has around 120 member countries signed up. IPBES has many parallels with the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), which provides regular assessments that bring together the best data and models on climate change. Over time the IPCC has had an enormous impact in influencing policy. The hope is that IPBES will do the same.

IPBES will provide an interface between the scientific community and policymakers, and aims at strengthening the use of science in policymaking. Its role will be to assess global and regional trends in biodiversity and associated ecosystem services, analyse their causes, and explore possible future changes.

To ensure IPBES fulfils its potential it is enlisting the world’s best conservation scientists into its assessment processes. Part of this effort includes enlisting some of the most talented early career researchers (ECRs) by establishing a Young Fellows Programme. Not only does this harness the finest emerging talent in the international effort to save biodiversity, it is hopefully engaging a cadre of top scientists that will be informing the effort over many years to come.

Scenario modelling and the incorporation of risk into decision-making are two areas that are central to the assessment work of IPBES and are key to its future success. CEED’s strengths lie in these fields.

Vanessa Adams is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow whose research applies economic concepts and social consultation to make on-ground conservation more effective and equitable between groups of stakeholders. Sugeng Budiharta is a Doctoral student studying how best to use available resources, from money to indigenous knowledge, to restore degraded forests in the tropics for the delivery of biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services (see the story on page 16). Both are skilled in spatial modelling and environmental decision science. When IPBES put out a call for early career researchers to join its assessment process, they saw it as a fantastic opportunity.

“Participating in the assessment as a Young Fellow allows me to connect my research directly with policy as well as providing me with a unique opportunity to work with leading global experts,” says Vanessa. “I try to partner with relevant government agencies and NGOs when conducting my research to ensure that it is relevant to policy makers and is positioned to influence on-ground conservation. Being involved in IPBES was an obvious extension of this approach of partnership.”

Sugeng, an Indonesian, believes that globally important biodiversity areas like Indonesia, Peru and Madagascar are usually less represented in global forums. “These countries face huge challenges in conserving and restoring biodiversity and ecosystem services while boosting their economies,” he says. “Yet, our capacities to meet these challenges are limited. The IPBES Young Fellows Programme is a great opportunity to learn and contribute!”

However, putting your hand up and being selected are two different things. Around the world there were some 700 applications to the Young Fellows Programme. Of these around 450 were nominated. But the area in which Vanessa and Sugeng nominated, Land Degradation and Restoration, it was even more competitive. From a pool of more than 130 applicants, only seven candidates were selected to participate in the assessment as co-authors. Vanessa and Sugeng were two of these seven.

Getting through such a tough selection process is testament to Vanessa and Sugeng’s skills. It’s also reflective of CEED’s international standing in the field of environmental decision science. Indeed, CEED has played an important support role throughout IPBES’s short history, providing valuable input into many of IPBES’s assessment processes (see Decision Point #61).

Scenario modelling and the incorporation of risk into decision-making are two areas that are central to the assessment work of IPBES and are key to its future success. CEED’s strengths lie in these fields. The hope is that with contributions from Young Fellows like Vanessa Adams and Sugeng Budiharta that CEED will be making valuable contributions to IPBES now and long into the future.

The next step for these two Young Fellows is a meeting with other ‘Land Degradation and Restoration’ IPBES assessment authors in Germany in September.

Other points of CEED contact

Other CEED researchers involved in IPBES include Associate Professor Brendan Wintle (Coordinating Lead Author on the use of scenarios and models to inform decision making), Dr Marta Pascual (Reviewer of the first draft of the scenarios and models chapter), Associate Professor James Watson (member of the Data and Knowledge taskforce), Dr Ram Pandit (Expert Group Member of Values and Valuation group, Lead Author on Asia Pacific regional assessment and Coordinating Lead Author on Land Degradation and Restoration) and Dr Maria Martinez-Harms (reviewer on the pollination assessment). Associate Professor Kerrie Wilson also played an important role by arranging for CEED to be an observing organisation of IPBES and coordinating two CEED reviews of the IPBES conceptual framework.

More info: Vanessa Adams v.adams@uq.edu.au and

Sugeng Budiharta sugengbudiharta@uqconnect.edu.au

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