Capacity building for global science-policy interfacea activities: Establishment of the IPBES task force on capacity building

Louafi Selim. 2017. Capacity building for global science-policy interfacea activities: Establishment of the IPBES task force on capacity building. In : The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Meeting the challenge of biodiversity conservation and governance. Hrabanski Marie (ed.), Pesche Denis (ed.). Abingdon : Routledge, pp. 173-189. (Routledge Studies in Biodiversity Politics and Management) ISBN 978-1-138-12125-6

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Abstract : Capacity building in a global setting is often the only thing that everyone agrees is important and needed. Such a broad consensus is usually not a good sign. The term ranges from a very narrow vision, often associated with training activities and workshops, to an all-encompassing vision that tends to be useless from an analytical and practical standpoint (Schacter, 2000). It could mean helping respond to a lack of technical or scientistic skills, of money, time or authority to do all the things expected, or to a lack of institutional capacity (Potter & Brough, 2004). It has been and continues to be a major component, if not a motto, of many global development programs, as well as a major component of any international documents and protocols related to global change and sustainable development (UNEP, 2005). Its importance has also been perceived as critical in science-policy interface discussions at the global level (Kleine, 2009). The need to increasingly address challenges of global scale calls for science to play a central role in the making of global policy (Miller, 2001). This increased importance of science in formulating global policy, however, raises several concerns, particularly with regard to the unequal capacity of countries to contribute to the production of this science. Capacity building plays an even more important role in this context. Developing countries repeatedly insist on the need to increase their active participation in scientific research and monitoring, global scientific assessments, and on the need to build enough capacity for the formulation of national science policies and related action plans. But the issue goes even beyond science to encompass all modes of knowing and deciding. The basic structure of the biodiversity problem raises challenging questions with regard to the types of knowledge that “count” and/or are necessary for decision making. Dealing with biodiversity issues entails a multiplicity of legitimate perspectives and discourses laden with conflicts over facts, interests and values (Koetz, Farrell & Bridgewater, 2012). As highlighted by the experience of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (Miller & Erickson, 2006), building a credible, legitimate and salient assessment on biodiversity requires substantial knowledge and expertise pooled by various actors at various scales. This includes scientistic knowledge, but also traditional knowledge and practitioners' knowledge that “often dominates the considerations of site specific resource management issues, where detailed scientific studies may not exist” (Reid et al., 2006: 2). Tensions and conflicts also emerge over the appropriate level of institutional intervention for biodiversity conservation and sustainable use. The global dimension of the biodiversity problem is often questioned as biodiversity loss and changes in ecosystem services are typically place-based and many of the effects are seen at sub-global scales (Swanson, 1999; Duraiappah & Rogers, 2011). Yet, the global biodiversity issue is more than the sum of all local biodiversity crises as it also involves a systemic dimension linked to global population growth, production and consumption patterns or global land-use patterns. Biodiversity issues also encompass various levels of observation of living systems – from genes to ecosystems through species – and associated traditional knowledge and know-how associated with each of these levels. The capacity to account for the complex set of interlinkages within and across these levels is at the core of the biodiversity concept. Yet discussions are still very often fragmented across the various disciplines associated with these various levels. Biodiversity spans sectors of human activities and relates to a broad set of values, from utilitarian use values related to the direct or indirect benefits that humans gain from ecosystem goods and services to non-utilitarian ethical or stewardship values (Van den Hove & Chabason, 2009). At least five interconnected elemental issue-areas account for the different facets through which global biodiversity governance is approached by the various actors and institutions (Swanson, 1999; Swanson & Groom, 2012; Rosendal, 2001; Le Prestre, 2002; Brahy & Louafi, 2004; Brand & Gorg 2013; Raustiala & Victor, 2004; Morin & Orsini, 2014): conservation, development, trade, culture and agriculture. These issues have emerged at the global level at different periods, pushed by different community actors and embodied in different institutions. What role does capacity building have in this setting of political tensions with regard to the way biodiversity is approached at different scales by various stakeholders, academic disciplines and sectors? This chapter describes the way this question has been framed and addressed within the International Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Starting with the current IPBES mandate and activities in terms of capacity building, the chapter develops a conceptual framework on capacity building that is used to boost our insight on the dynamics (content-wise) that have led to such an outcome in terms of capacity building. We ask: What were the capacity building objectives at the outset of the IPBES establishment process? How have these objectives evolved? What was left aside? What was considered as critical and why?

Mots-clés Agrovoc : Politique de l'environnement, Biodiversité, services écosystémiques, Gestion des ressources, Organisation du travail, Organisation internationale, Gouvernance

Classification Agris : P01 - Nature conservation and land resources

Champ stratégique Cirad : Axe 6 (2014-2018) - Sociétés, natures et territoires

Auteurs et affiliations

  • Louafi Selim, CIRAD-BIOS-UMR AGAP (FRA)

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