Start thinking about implementation – Dodo’s opening address to #IPBES4

Distinguished delegates, humans,

it is my pleasure to address you (virtually) on behalf of the human-activity caused extinct species of the Earth once again. Unfortunately, my closing speech to #IPBES3 came rather late due to flight problems, but this time I should be in time (which is quite a challenge for a species being extinction for about 333 years).

IPBES is an impressive endeavour. The reports and activities produced so far show the ambition and potential of human brains to understand their environment and find ways to cope with it sustainably. Yet, of course you also produce many counterproductive activities that hinder these (I know. “it’s the economy stupid”, but there are other ways than the economic mainstream). But the collaboration in IPBES (so far) is a positive sign, and I am impressed by those humans who are willing to put so much of their time in this. It will be interesting to see how the private sector will take such a platform serious and allow discussions on a level playing field for all.

At the same time, IPBES is frustrating endeavour. A huge work programme of a dozen assessments and many more deliverables is funded by a poor sum of 40 Mio Dollars, with nearly 10 Mio still missing from the pot. Are you nuts? These sums are peanuts! This is all about your livelihoods for now and in the future! Just spend a tiny little less on military – or just eradicate the environmental harmful subsidies – you promised to phase them out by 2020 anyway, according to your CBD targets. Or, or, or… many options to at least triple this sum. If IPBES gets the message across that its reports tell that safeguarding nature will profit everyone, the support shouldn’t be a problem (well, I am a naïve extinct bird, as you know…).

Oh, and yes: the private sector could also give a share of those profits they get from destroying nature and the habitats of my fellow animal species – another source for a huge boost in funding. Thus, you could also adequately value the work of the experts involved.

The stakeholder days this weekend have impressively shown that there is only one way forward to come to a joint living model between a growing human population and nature: cooperation between humans. IPBES stakeholders are willing, yet based on quite different values (like the member states). Talking about these values as well is thus crucial for joint understanding and mutual learning. So, finally starting the assessment on diverse conceptualisations of values and valuation should be a priority to IPBES members. It will further open your eyes that economic views can help (nature acts economically itself, somehow…) but other values are equally valid. As often stated the Conceptual Framework of IPBES is a good starting point, yet surely not a Rosetta stone (not sure if things fixed in stone are the right picture anyway when it comes to the living world).

In the end, IPBES will be pit against its achievements to support changes on the ground – the stakeholders again will be crucial here – and the way your results are communicated. Going back home being happy that another week of deliberations is over will not do it – every member needs to think about amplifying results in your own country and below. And for that, another 40 Mio Dollars of investments will not even be half a peanut.

I thank you for your attention.



The (non-)movement of small green pieces of paper towards international science-policy interfacing – IPBES budget in some perspective

The first days of IPBES-4 reminded me as an unimportant, virtual dodo without a bank account and thus not at all existing in a human perspective of some of some of the first sentences of the dodo friend Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide intro that humans try to get happy by largely being concerned about the movement of small green pieces of paper (“which is odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy” – according to Douglas Adams).

As stated in my opening address to IPBES-4, I had feared already that the work of this rather young science-policy animal called IPBES would be heavily depending, as we are dealing with humans here, on the non-movement of such small green pieces of paper to it – the budget. The tiny, tiny amount of less than 10 Mio paper pieces are missing to conduct the work programme that was agreed by all just 3 years back – and now some of those partners that agreed on this say to delay work because such few green pieces or paper are missing. O.K., today they are just numbers on a bank account, I know – even if I am extinct for 333 years, I am not ignorant to the modern world (– I am even blogging, you know, which is quite a challenge as extinct species !?).

And this modern world makes it so easy to put this into perspective:

10 Mio green pieces of paper are roughly equivalent to:

  • A few hundred metres of newly built motorway in a “developed” country [individual cars to be outdated soon anyway]
  • 2% of a what some humans assume to be a right way of flying – a jet fighter type F35 II [including share of development costs: 304m pieces of paper]
  • 00221% of the fine from the US Department of Justic to BP for Deepwater Horizon oilspill (or should I say oilkill? No, that would be politically incorrect) [according to dodopedia*, this was 4.525bn pieces of paper]
  • 00198% of the construction costs of the “Large Hadron Collider” at CERN [according to dodopedia* this was 8.345bn pieces of paper]
  • 00022% of the 2015 budget of agricultural subsidies (“Common Agricultural Policy” in the European Union [according to official numbers: 41.680bn Euro pieces of paper]

As said, this is just for perspective.


Your turn – it’s your pieces of wood mashed up and pressed flat, not mine.


*dodopedia is the free encyclopedia of us dead dodos up in extinction heaven. As we are few, we copy quite some stuff from wikipedia, which I hope you humans can bear…

Your new science-policy animal IPBES – some dodo reflections

As it happens, my dear human medium keeps on visiting large scale assemblages of humans talking about biodiversity.

You latest global invention in this respect is IPBES (which’s complete name already tells you how crazy humans are with naming things…).

I had the honour to co-visit its last big meeting, called IPBES-3 in Bonn (that’s what I call a short, cozy name…) early this year.

As a virtual animal, of course I wasn’t allowed to speak during the plenary (although I would be the perfect stakeholder, even if dodos can hold hardly anything…), so I had to deliver my final speech to the plenary in tweets… Which of course no one recognized by then as everyone was going home and making appointments for their next babble-exchange encounter (probably something from CBD… or maybe the World Parcs Congress?). And, well, I had to leave myself… So, here, I would like to document my closing speech, as somehow it didn’t make it into the final report of the meeting… strange… should at least try to register myself as official virtual observer…

Distinguished stakeholders, fellow non-extinct birds, dear front rows.

Thank you for an interesting and funny week at #ipbes3. I sincerely hope that your IPBES plans will help to make Earth a better place for humans and Mother Earth… and its birds and other fellow species. Whatever the outcomes of the planned IPBES assessments will be: take them serious, as the real situation is likely to be worse. 

No IPBES birds assessment is planned, yet the world is getting poorer and poorer. Of birds, fellow animals, plants, ecosystems. Many animals suffer, and so do humans. All of you loose the basis for a safe, valuable, life. I lost mine long ago due to early human ignorance [today, you would probably spend millions to save me, if only a few of my species were left, see my dear friend Sirocco, the  @spokesbird of the kakapos]. It would be pretty nice to stop that ignorance now that you know better with the help of the wit and wisdom humans indeed have, maybe…

Let me conclude #ipbes3 with a quote of one of these human authors fascinated by us dodos, the late Douglas Adams. “Humans are not an endangered species themselves yet, but it’s not for a lack of trying.” Thank you, #ipbes3. Squak!

Yeah, well, although I didn’t give the speech, I admit I stayed with the formalism of such events of being resonably kind and concise. But now that they started some of their “asssessments”, I can maybe reflect a little more. Generally it is great that your decision takers (or makers? not sure) want to listen more closely to what you know about your natural environment and how you so un-elegantly destroy it. You even made it to create a framework that connects humans and nature for this in just a few pages, where in fact the real reason for the destruction, your decisions and institutions, are at its core.  Well done, took some time if you remember the framework of your Millennium Assessment. Calling it a “rosetta stone” though, is something quite overbearing, as you are still far away from understanding nature in its entity… Nonetheless, some of you seem to understand better now…

The question that bothers me is how these surely clever findings that IPBES will deliver will actually make it to the real decision takers. IPBES doesn’t even have money to properly make its results known, the money spent by your rich countries on helping nature to be better off is still poor, yet you call it a vital foundation for your development. The 2-day meeting of seven humans (“G7”) where this was presented in fact cost more than  the work programme of IPBES for four years… Well, you don’t even manage to spend your money wisely for your own purposes and respect the individuals of your own species, I just remember… So what should I say…

I might just go back to my extinction heaven repository and have a call to Douglas in your very own heaven about this (they are separated for our own sake…).