APN Takes Major Step towards an Ecosystem Services Framework for Sustainable Development

22 July 2012, Bangkok, Thailand — The APN successfully organized a second scoping workshop on Ecosystem Services for Green Growth and Sustainable Development to further develop a proposed Ecosystems Services framework with the ultimate aim of integrating it into APN’s strategic plan to support research, capacity development and science-policy interfacing efforts on ecosystem services in the Asia-Pacific region.

The workshop was attended by APN Steering Committee members and experts on biodiversity and ecosystems services from Japan and Malaysia. Participants contributed actively to the discussions on the current scientific and institutional landscape of research on ecosystems services and the links with green growth and sustainable development.

The APN’s initiative of developing an ecosystems framework started in early 2011, at a time when the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity announced the Decade on Biodiversity as a renewed effort to reduce the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national levels. With the recent establishment of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), an international mechanism to addresses the gaps in the science policy interface on biodiversity and ecosystem services, the APN increasingly realize the need to contribute at the regional level to the work of IPBES, leveraging the APN’s key strengths as a regional research network in Asia and the Pacific.

Participants to the workshop reviewed the APN Gap Analysis Report resulted from its initial scoping workshop held in February 2011. The report outlined the gaps and priorities identified by workshop participants with feedback global change community experts, which were group into the following themes:

1)      Drivers and pressures for biodiversity change that influence ecosystem services;

2)      Assessment of impacts of biodiversity loss and vulnerability to the shrinking of ecosystem services;

3)      Model-based prediction of changes in biodiversity and ecosystem services; and

4)      Adaptation, response and mitigation of the depletion of biodiversity and ecosystems services.

Discussions revolved around how APN could find its niche in supporting the international efforts in the field of biodiversity and ecosystems services by establishing a framework that brings APN’s strengths into full play, while creating the necessary linkages between ecosystem services and green growth and sustainable development.

To ensure thematic balance under the proposed framework, it was pointed out that the framework should accommodate projects that address both natural and managed ecosystems in terrestrial, coastal and marine domains. The framework will encourage the examination of biodiversity in an integrative way which will address different aspects including its economic implications, the impact on livelihood of communities and the links with green growth and sustainable development, etc.

To strengthen the framework’s relevance to and alignment with ongoing international mechanisms, participants reviewed key publications on biodiversity and ecosystem services, including the reports of IPBES sessions, outcomes of the Planet Under Pressure conference, and in particular the outcome document of United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20).

Participants further highlighted capacity building activities as an important area to which APN could actively contribute. In this context, the proposed framework could be designed to support human resource development, including technical training, exchange of experiences and expertise, knowledge transfer and technical assistance for capacity-building, which involves planning, management and monitoring capacities.

The result of the workshop will lead to an updated framework, which will be presented to APN 18th Inter-Governmental Meeting (IGM) in March 2013 for approval and integration into APN’s Strategic Plan as a framework for supporting high priority activities identified in the area of ecosystem services in the context of green growth and sustainable development.