A plea for more freshwater experts in IPBES

Jan J. Kuiper*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review


Biodiversity loss occurs much faster in the world's freshwaters than in the terrestrial or marine realms, yet worries have been expressed that freshwater systems are not given the same priority as ‘land and oceans’ in global environmental governance. The Intergovernmental Science–Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is mandated to provide the knowledge basis supporting international environmental agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity. To a large extent, the work of IPBES is dependent on voluntary contributions by independent experts from across the world. Here, I present an overview of the various ways in which freshwater experts can contribute to IPBES, ultimately to strengthen the representation of freshwater ecosystems in global environmental governance. Avenues to contribute include participating in the development of IPBES assessment reports that are adopted by the 139 member states, engaging in the external review process of IPBES products, filling in knowledge gaps as identified by IPBES assessment reports to inform upcoming assessments, implementing IPBES outcomes and recommendations in practice, and actively engaging with plenary meetings of government delegations to influence decisions. Actively supporting governments worldwide in making evidence-based decisions can be intrinsically rewarding and offers several additional benefits. These benefits include the potential for enhanced professional reputation, given the authoritative nature of IPBES products; networking and collaboration opportunities with experts and stakeholders from around the world; and professional development through gaining experience in navigating the science–policy interface on biodiversity and ecosystem services. I conclude with a call to action.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 May 2023


  • aquatic conservation
  • biodiversity crisis
  • environmental assessments
  • freshwater ecosystems
  • science–policy interface


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