A report by Paule Tabi Eckebil
The second World Biodiversity (WBF) Forum conference was organized as a hybrid event, with the in-person meeting taking place at Davos Congress Centre, Switzerland. The conference brought together researchers (Professors, Associate Professors, Lecturers, Post-doc, PhD students, and researchers) across all disciplines of biodiversity science with practitioners and societal actors to present, discuss and brainstorm current and future trajectories of the World biodiversity. More than 500 posters and presentations were displayed and streamed across global case studies to local case studies through regional ones. During the seven days presentations about soil diversity, fresh water and aquatic diversity, marine diversity, terrestrial diversity were held. It was the opportunity for all the participants to share and exchange insights and updates on their current and forecast research.
Workshop: Towards a Global Biodiversity Monitoring System
The aim of this workshop organized by members of the GEO BON was to present the framework of the vision for Biodiversity and get insights from all participants in the building of that vision by 2030. Indeed, it was an opportunity to establish a global biodiversity observation system (GBiOS) that will monitor biodiversity trends and events, and use this knowledge to guide action for the global goals and targets. Thus, this system can be assembled as a network of existing and planned national and regional biodiversity observation and monitoring systems. The purpose of guiding conservation action for biodiversity includes:
- Detect events and trends in biodiversity across different facets
- Attribute causes of events + trends due to drivers needed to support forecasts
- Support spatial prioritization of actions needed to achieve the targets of the GBF
- Measure the efficacy of different actions on the state of nature.
As a key message from this workshop, GBiOS aims to improve the accuracy and reduce uncertainty in our understanding of biodiversity trends and enhance the capacity of the variety of stakeholders across the world.
Plenary Sessions all over the conference
Many plenary sessions were held at the conference. The main topics discussed were:
- WHY WE NEED TO TRANSFORM BIODIVERSITY SCIENCE: This talk illustrates the limitations and blind spots of dominant biodiversity research agendas and priorities to make the case for transformation. The speaker outlines what should be considered to equip biodiversity research to support the transformative changes in societies and economies that are so desperately needed for human and ecological well-being.
- NAVIGATING THE SPACES BETWEEN CONSERVATION SCIENCE AND POLICYMAKING: Climate crisis has driven threats to biodiversity, it is now a need to explore and expand spaces to create opportunities for better collaboration and communication between science and society.
- THE ECOLOGY + MANAGEMENT OF POPULATIONS FROM LOCAL TO GLOBAL SCALES: The comparative ecology of populations from local to global scales is usually used to determine how to develop generalizations within and between species, using available demographic, environmental, life-history, occurrence, and trait data. However, this method has strengths and weaknesses in using broad climatic variables and climatic suitability to represent environmental variation in comparative analyses.
- NATURALNESS AND THE VALUE OF BIODIVERSITY: Biodiversity is valued by the role it plays in ecosystem functioning, ecosystem service provide to humans and good in its own right. The speaker argues why people value natural and artificial biodiversity so differently. She then stresses the fact that the naturalness of biodiversity matters to its value. For that, in the case of loss of natural biodiversity, some values provided by the naturalness of biodiversity could not be compensated for by the introduction of artificial biodiversity.
- INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ FOOD SYSTEMS: NUTRITION, FOOD SOVEREIGNTY, HEALTHY PLANET: “476 million Indigenous Peoples (6% of the population) maintain and sustain 80% of the planet’s biodiversity”. For centuries, indigenous people play a huge role in biodiversity preservation through the food systems they have developed to cope with sometimes rude climate conditions and that have positive effects on biodiversity sustainability. Indigenous knowledge of their environment and practices makes them champions of adaptation and resilience. Moreover, their food systems offer a solution to the challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss.
- SHEPHERDING SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA’S BIODIVERSITY TOWARDS A GREEN ANTHROPOCENE: The population of Africa is intended to double by 2050, and Sub-Saharan biodiversity is inclined to be lost in the coming decades if programs for conservation are not funded for Africa. The speaker highlighted the fact that enhancing action for Africa’s biodiversity will improve “population stability, population urbanization, governance improvement, poverty diminution, agriculture intensification, green economies strengthened, and a better societal appreciation of nature.” In that aim, Africa “will be likely to enter a ‘Green Anthropocene’ where the prospects for conservation are brighter.”
- TRANSFORMATIVE CHANGE FOR BIODIVERSITY: A RESEARCH AGENDA ON NARRATIVES: Compelling stories or narratives for achieving the global biodiversity vision are now determinant to inform policymakers, practitioners and the public to make sense of the importance of biodiversity and why changes in many other sectors are needed. This requires making trade-offs among agri-food systems, energy, transport and many other production systems to protect and restore the natural systems humans depend on. The aim of the biodiversity narratives is to create stories of hope for the future. To do so, the speaker explains the importance of connecting scientific experts on narratives and researchers or practitioners in the field of biodiversity to discuss how the vision of biodiversity can be formulated for a better future where humans and nature are in harmony.
- THE NATURE FUTURES FRAMEWORK: A NEW GLOBAL FRAMEWORK FOR BIODIVERSITY SCENARIOS: The IPBES Nature Futures framework which has been developed by the IPBES task force on scenarios and models were introduced in this talk. This new framework for biodiversity scenarios represents the different ways in which nature and its contributions to people are perceived and valued. Nature for Nature (NN), Nature for Society (NS) and Nature as Culture (NC) are the three dimensions of this Nature Futures Framework (NFF) that draw the pathways of the desirable future we need for our future based on our value of nature and the transformative changes to consider to ensure a better future for nature and people.
Attending the WBF conference 2022 in Davos was a huge opportunity for me to learn about studies on biodiversity and ecosystem services at the global and local scales. I have been particularly impressed to notice that the majority of studies established a link between biodiversity conservation, ecosystem services and nature’s contribution to people (NCP) conceptual framework.
Conservation planning has been largely focused so far on landscape units (e.g. land-use, landcover, specific habitats) for their valuations and less looking at the species composing them. The recommendation is to fill this gap and assess how much it will be possible to highlight the relationship between Biodiversity and NCPs.
On one hand, from the practitioner’s point of view, talking about conservation, measures to strictly protect areas of high biodiversity value may endanger food security and human health in the most vulnerable regions of the world mainly in the developing countries. Then, in order to inform policy-makers, it is very important to align protection measures with sustainable development goals. On the other hand, from the researcher’s point of view, gathering socio-economic data and ecological data together is crucial to improve human development and linkages between human, biodiversity and ecosystem services processes through mechanisms such as the CBD or IPBES. Building the bridge between those two points of view was a major aim of this conference and I see here what my research can contribute to that debate and the outcomes for West Africa.
In that regard, Assessing Ecosystems services (ES) is the entry point of this approach. In addition, the development of models to quantify the value of the services is a determinant to predict positive futures for humans and biodiversity through multiple scenarios based on the use of a set of environmental, demographic, and climatic covariates. Finally, I have established many contacts with the researchers involved in framing all those concepts (IPBES especially), but also earlier researchers (PhD students, post-docs) working in the same fields with who we can collaborate and learn more from each other.