BIOTA Coordinator elected to panel of international specialists

biotaBy Karina Toledo

Agência FAPESP – Professor Carlos Joly of the Universidade Estadual de Campinas Biology Institute (IB/Unicamp) and coordinator of the BIOTA-FAPESP program was elected on January 23 to be one of five representatives from Latin America and the Caribbean at the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). 

Created in April of 2012 after nearly 10years of international negotiations, the IPBES will systematize the scientific knowledge accumulated on biodiversity for the purpose of granting subsidies and making scientific decisions internationally—a similar role to that held by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) over the last 20 years.  

The platform is organized into three fixed structures. First, the Secretariat is managed by four United Nations (UN) organizational programs: the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Second, there is a board of directors. And third, there is a Multidisciplinary Expert Panel (MEP).  

The 25 members of the MEP were elected for a two-year term during the first meeting of the Platform’s Plenary Session held from January 21-26 in Bonn, Germany. Five members were selected from each of the regions recognized by the United Nations (Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and Western Europe and Other Nations, which includes the United States and New Zealand).  

In addition to Joly, the Latin American and Caribbean representatives are Sandra Myrna Díaz from Argentina, Edgar Selvin Pérez from Guatemala, Julia Carabias Lillo from México and Floyd M. Homer from Trinidad and Tobago. 

During the event, representatives for each of the five regions were also elected to the board of directors for a three-year term. Chile’s Leonel Sierralta was chosen to represent Latin America and the Caribbean, and Adalberto Val, director of the National Institute of Amazonian Research (INPA), was chosen as an alternative.  

Both Joly and Val were nominated by members of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MCTI) and the Ministry of the Environment (MMA). Negotiations during the plenary meeting were performed by the Ministry of External Relations’ Environmental Agency (DEMA/MRE).  

“The panel of specialists is the heart of the platform because these 25 people will identify information on biodiversity that will lead to new knowledge, suggest lines of action that may support public policy actions in the field and make recommendations on how to train human resources,” said Paulino Franco de Carvalho Neto, head of the MRE’s environmental division.  

As the IPBES is an international platform, Carvalho Neto added that the governments of the participating nations will decide what to do with the collected information. 

“The MEP will coordinate this work. We are satisfied with Joly’s appointment, as his qualifications in the area are vast and he is chair of BIOTA, an important program directly involved in the areas in which the IPBES does its work,” Neto said.  

“The election of two Brazilians to permanent IPBES agencies reflects the high level of the work being done at [our] Environmental Agency and the respect other nations have for it,” said Joly.

According to the BIOTA coordinator, the first MEP team will play a fundamental role at IPBES, as it will be responsible for defining the conceptual framework of the platform and its work program. It will also address the complex question of how to integrate scientific knowledge with other systems of knowledge, particularly those of native and local communities.  

“The MEP will also have to take on and work out the enormous challenge of establishing the methodology and measures to be used in diagnostics in such a way that sub-regional evaluations can be integrated and transformed into regional evaluations which can then, in turn, be integrated to a global diagnostic of biodiversity and ecosystem services,” said Joly, stressing the importance of cooperation between a large number of researchers. 

Joly also affirmed that the election results are evidence of the significant role that BIOTA plays in the international debate on biodiversity. “The decisions made together with the United States’ National Science Foundation and the United Kingdom’s Natural Environment Research Council show that we have gained this respect in the academic world. My election to MEP shows that BIOTA has also earned its own place in the international scenario of knowledge translation in conservation policy, restoration and the sustainable use of biodiversity,” he said.  

Biodiversity conservation director for the Ministry of the Environment (MMA) Daniela América Suarez de Oliveira was at the event and also commented on Joly’s appointment. 

“We are very proud that Professor Joly was elected, and we are confident that his work will contribute greatly to the formation of the Multidisciplinary Expert Panel,” said Suarez.

 Source and Photo: Agência FAPESP, 27th February, 2013-02-27
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