It’s been reported that the urgency of biodiversity takes a back seat to the urgency of climate change, with much of the credit going to the one-two punch of a science story telling machine called IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and a powerful narrator, Al Gore.  The biodiversity camp is following suit now with plans for its own fact-based story vehicle (and acronym), IMoSEB, or the International Mechanism of Scientific Expertise on Biodiversity. Its steering committee just wrapped up a meeting in Montpellier, France, two days ago, and a summary of the meeting just popped on the Internet.  For those who care about amphibians, or any threatened species, this is necessary reading.  Below, I’ll first paste  the official “final outcome” section. Later, I’ll paste some meeting notes that show some of the interesting questions raised earlier in the meeting. The point is, the scientists for whom animals and plants are Job One are trying hard to grab our attention and that of our governments, and challenge all of us to increase our mindshare for biodiversity. Memo to IMoSEB: please hurry.

  • “Final Outcome: In its Statement, the IMoSEB International Steering Committee recommends … establishment of a means, and enhancement of existing institutions, to provide an objective source of information about biodiversity change and its impacts on ecosystem services and human well-being, via a range of activities, including:
    • building on and promoting periodic global and sub-global assessments of the state of, and trends in, biodiversity and ecosystem services, and their effects on human well-being at multiple spatial scales;

    • undertaking or promoting special studies on emerging issues of importance to biodiversity, particularly those which are transnational and/or cross-cultural in nature;

    • contributing to rapid and authoritative scientific information on biodiversity-related emergencies at short time scales; and

    • promoting the development of the capacity to generate and use the information, methodology and techniques required to accomplish the above objectives.”

OK, this isn’t in Al Gore’s “real people” language yet, but it’s a start! I thought the meeting notes describing the debates earlier in the meeting were illuminating:

  • “On improved communication, a participant from the media questioned the role that an IMoSEB might play in ensuring that biodiversity enters the “core” of the news agenda, as climate change has.”

  • “A broad consensus emerged that the links between biodiversity and human well-being should be a key focus, with several participants cautioning against a purely conservation-based ideology.”

  • “He (not sure who “he” is) argued that if the mechanism is to successfully place biodiversity on the global agenda, it should report to the UN General Assembly …  Several participants suggested alternative institutional homes, including: the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization; and the UN Development Programme. One participant argued that administration of an IMoSEB should be devolved to multiple UN bodies because many of them are involved in the different aspects of biodiversity.”

  • “One participant proposed adding a reference to the need to promote the linkages between biodiversity, climate change and environmental pollution in order to signal to other conventions the biodiversity community’s willingness to collaborate.”

  • “The debate focused on recommending the establishment of a means to provide an objective source of information about biodiversity change and its impact on ecosystem services and human well-being … “