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  • Writer's pictureDirk

A global assessment and a reshaping of IPBES

Updated: Dec 14, 2019

The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) held its 7th plenary session in Paris (France) during May 2019. The plenary marks the end of the first work programme and the release of the global assessment of biodiversity and ecosystem services. The important key messages from the global assessment are now more dire than those of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment from 2005, and its precursor, the Global Biodiversity Assessment of 1995. The plenary also considered the results of the review of IPBES, the future rolling work programme until 2030, and a budgetary framework. Using the review to reframe IPBES’ way of working, especially better policy delivery, will set it up for continued success.

A particular finding in the assessment was the link between biodiversity and mental health and well-being. The MA already pointed out a relationship between ecosystem degradation and degradation of the five components of human well-being (basic material needs for a good life, health, good social relations, security and freedom of choice and action), with mostly loss of capital asset and economic activity accounting for the link. However, it is becoming more and more evident that nature itself promotes human mental health, well-being and happiness, even after controlling for socio-economic factors. Once basic physical needs for food, shelter, health and safety have been met, increased wealth does not correlate with increased well-being or happiness. This observation provides a solid ground for prioritising the necessary investments of industrialized, wealthy countries in the protection of biodiversity and the services it provides to society. In his book (N'oublie pas d'être heureux - Do not forget being happy), the French psychiatrist Christophe André, a happiness specialist, mentions a study showing that, after spending time in nature, the importance of well-being improvement is correlated to biodiversity, as assessed by the number of plant species and bird songs. When we protect biodiversity, we do more than just protect biodiversity.

The below figure from the blog of Mark Easton (blog link) supports the above mentioned notion that money alone does not make you happy.

Mountain research has specifically been mentioned in the next IPBES work programm, also because mountains make substantial contributions to human well-being. May that be through peacefulness, natural beauty, fresh air and fresh water, or through ecosystem services they provide through provision of wood, food and water. Check out what mountain forest can do for human happiness in this blog from Gloria Pallares.

Find our article on the seventh plenary of the intergovernmental platform for biodiversity and ecosystem services (IPBES-7) here:

That article contains also a history about global assessments of biodiversity and puts the recent global assessment (released to the media the 6th of May 2019) into perspective.

Below some impression from IPBES7, held beginning of May 2019 at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France: Friends of the chair, exhibition, the unsigned picasso, in front of the UNESCO, a hello from two of the three authors of the paper.


Bridgewater, P., Loyau, A., Schmeller, D.S., (2019, in press). The seventh plenary of the intergovernmental platform for biodiversity and ecosystem services (IPBES-7): a global assessment and a reshaping of IPBES. Biodiversity and Conservation

another interesting read:

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