RCE members and UNU-IAS convene in three-event marathon on Climate Change, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

Members of the UNU-IAS ESD team, the RCE network and RCE candidates from the Asia-Pacific region and beyond took part in a three-event marathon lasting six days in Cha-am, Thailand, including the International Conference on “Climate Change, Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services for the Sustainable Development Goals: Policy and Practice” (27-29 June, 2016), the 9th Asia-Pacific RCE Meeting (30 June) and finally the IPBES Capacity Building Workshop on “Ecosystem Assessment and Policy Support Tools” (1-2 July).

International Conference

More than 20 research and technical papers were presented by RCEs and were related to climate change, biodiversity and ecosystem services, especially from the multi-stakeholder perspective. The opening ceremony was presided by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn’s. Keynote presentations were on the 2030 Development Agenda and the SDGs, climate change science and policy management, key issues on biodiversity and ecosystem services, adaptive watershed management for climate change adaptation, gender integration for ecosystem resilience, biodiversity conservation and payment for ecosystem services, and implementation responses from governments such as Thailand, Japan and the G7 countries.

Research and case study papers were presented in parallel sessions structured according to sub-themes on policy, management, practice, and multi-stakeholder approaches.

The following observations were made during the conference:

1) Research on climate change, biodiversity and ecosystem services is no longer confined to academia but can be found in governmental institutions, NGOs, and the private sector.

2) The government sector is responding to SDGs, particularly through intergovernmental platforms and other processes on climate change (UNFCCC COP21 Agreement), and in biodiversity and ecosystem services through IPBES, CBD and the Aichi Targets.

3) The science-policy interface still needs to be strengthened.

4) RCE cases focused mostly on multi-stakeholder approaches across all themes, lacking the learning aspect of each study.

5) A number of RCE cases could be useful to showcase international sustainability processes, as well how research outcomes can be implemented in local community settings.

At the end of the event, all participants officially recognized the moral imperative to address the new agenda for sustainable development through the SDGs and to realize the interlinkages and integrated nature of these goals. In the Cha-am Statement, they pledged to advocate for key interventions which were prominently raised during the Conference, to further global, regional, national and local efforts in climate change adaptation, biodiversity conservation and management of ecosystem services. In the statement they commit to specific actions and aspirations.

Photos and presentations have now been uploaded on the conference website.

The 9th Asia Pacific RCE Meeting

About 50 members of the Asia-Pacific RCE community held the 9th Annual Meeting to share their initiatives and discuss the progress of the global RCE movement. A major goal of the event was to strategize and develop RCE action plans for the implementation of the SDGs and the Global Action Programme on ESD following the Roadmap for the RCE community.

The RCE participants deliberated and agreed on the following issues:

1) Develop an action plan for implementing GAP and SDGs both at the individual RCE level as well as for the Asia-Pacific RCE community for schools and youth, community, and higher education. These action plans will address the priority thematic areas of Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP), Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), and Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, as well as indigenous local knowledge. A summary of the action plans by category is available here.

2) Develop an RCE assessment methodology and conduct self-assessments of individual RCEs.

Pictures of the RCE Asia Pacific Meeting have been uploaded on facebook

The IPBES Capacity Building Workshop

The Asia-Pacific RCE community participants were the target group of the 1st IPBES Capacity Building Workshop on “Assessment and Policy Support Tools”. It was preluded by a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) presentation introducing BES-Net and the IPBES matchmaking facility on 29th June. The Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Network (BES-Net) is a capacity building network of networks that promotes dialogue between science, policy and practice for more effective management of biodiversity and ecosystems.

The workshop was intense with presentations from UNU-IAS, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the IPBES Secretariat and the IPBES Technical Support Unit for Asia-Pacific. These were followed by a series of group discussions. The workshop focused on the IPBES work programmes, the ValuES project on ecosystem service assessment, policy support tools and methodologies, and IPBES task forces and work programmes, all of which were considered for RCE actions and possible integration into the respective RCE action plans. The workshop participants welcomed the news that the IPBES Secretariat had acknowledged the global RCE network as a strategic partner. This recognition opens windows of opportunity for the RCEs to make contributions in the context of IPBES.