Dodo’s opening address to #IPBES5

Dear human delegates, distinguished fellow species at the brink of extinction,

[Like many others of you I have stayed inactive between the last IPBES plenary and now. This is partly because my own human medium is so unreliable that I needed to find a new one. But it is also because I was once again, as every year between 1680 and now, bewildered by the level of human activity and ignorance against its own races’ interests. Evolution is a strange thing – it allows species to thrive that are so focussed on killing its own specimen… bracket closed]

As said last time in Kuala Lumpur (way better climate for a dodo than Bonn in winter, btw), IPBES is an impressive endeavour. With the finalisation of the regional and global assessments in 2018/2019 you will know better (or better: even more precise), how you are destroying the planet, the only place of living for my fellow species and yourself. You may also get reminded on the options you have, globally speaking, in reducing that threat (I don’t see how you may be able to stop it though…).

It also remains that this knowledge gathering endeavour is impressively triggered mainly by the about 1000 volunteers that spend their time (and their institution’s resources) on it. I am not economist (the dodo god may hinder me!), but surely the amount of 14 Mio USD (btw: the UN should switch to another currency these days…) announced by the secretariat is surely a heavy underestimation taking all the networks behind the official experts into account. So again, it is a quite poor sign that IPBES still has to beg for the small amounts they need to carry out its supporting work for these experts. This is a sign of disrespect to those working pro bono.

But let me come to the thematic issues at stake at IPBES-5.

As global body, IPBES still tends to strongly overestimate the global view  in its activities. Every second speech in Bonn will somehow recognize the importance of action and knowledge needs on local to regional levels. So you need to look at your instruments in a problem- and scale-oriented manner. No global models and scenarios will help you address this, no global assessment on the SDGs will do. For making a difference, IPBES has the right elements though in its work programme – its “smaller” assessments and tools. Speaking as a dodo, my extinction could have been prevented by having by 1650:

  • An assessment of values and valuation that would have made sailors coming to Mauritius of my intrinsic (and other) values
  • An assessment on sustainable use making these sailors aware that harvesting all trees (and dodos) from a small island is not so good for the future
  • An assessment on invasive species showing that introducing pigs, rats and goats to a tropical island might not be soo clever with respect to nature and economics
  • A catalogue of policy tools and methodologies might have helped early island settlers to at least roughly plan what they do and be aware of its impacts.

Of course, having such assessments on the global scale again waters down their concreteness (and they come roughly 370 years too late for the dodo) – but they have messages – a thing made big by the new IPBES communications strategy, I’d say. So: have courage and make these assessments NOW. And fill this catalogue (with these huge number of clever ways of using nature sustainably that humans have developed) and spread its use via capacity building and local to national action (IPBES is not an excuse for inaction – every country should have its -BES).

It’s not for me, you know, but for some other species and in first place yourself (I know human race is selfish, so I partly adapt).

Especially the assessment on your own values is so crucial – there is more than economics, and IPBES seems to be one of the few places humans discuss about this openly across nations – value this discussion on your values, strengthen it and spread the word.

That’s it from the dodo, courage for your deliberations.  


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