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GCI influencing policy internationally through credible research

Prof Barend Erasmus and Prof Bob Scholes attended the IPBES workshop for the thematic assessment on land degradation and restoration in Rome.

Prof Barend Erasmus and Prof Bob ScholesProf Barend Erasmus together with Prof Bob Scholes recently attended the  Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) workshop in Rome.

Prof Scholes is the Co-Chair of the panel and Prof Erasmus is a Co-Lead Author.

Profs Erasmus and Scholes met with scientists from across the globe to fine-tune the assessment document, which will be utilised to create a Summary for Policy Makers (SPM) to assist them in making informed decisions that is backed by credible scientific results and analysis. According to Erasmus, the recent Rome workshop, gave scientists the opportunity to proactively engage with each other in relation to recent developments in the land space to better inform the document.  

The finalised UN supported assessment report on land degradation and restoration is expected to be released in 2018 and a global summary of biodiversity in 2019. The report is prepared by more than 100 international experts from 45 countries over a period of 3 years.

According to the IPBES website the assessment is described as the following: “The assessment of land degradation and restoration is to cover the global status of and trends in land degradation, by region and land cover type; the effect of degradation on biodiversity values, ecosystem services and human well-being; and the state of knowledge, by region and land cover type, of ecosystem restoration extent and options. The assessment would enhance the knowledge base for policies for addressing land degradation, desertification and the restoration of degraded land.”

When questioned of the relevance in a local context, Prof Erasmus stated the following: “International assessments provide the global framework within which regional and local planning takes place. Look at the impact that the IPCC climate change assessments have had on policy decision worldwide.”

In addition to Scholes and Erasmus, Prof Coleen Vogel is an external reviewer on another IPBES assessment. Visiting Researcher Dr Emma Archer leads a team of researchers for an Africa-wide assessment of land degradation and restoration, and she is ably supported in one of the chapters, by GCI alumnus, Dr Kaera Coetzer.

“Being part of panels/committees such as IPBES fulfills the GCI’s mandate, which is to support policy locally and internationally, through cutting edge science,” concludes Erasmus.