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Guidance document: National Ecosystem Assessments to Support Implementation of Convention on Biological Diversity

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A national ecosystem assessment is a nationally driven process that provides countries with an up-to-date, comprehensive, and critical synthesis of knowledge on biodiversity and ecosystem services framed around key policy questions.

It can also highlight the value and effectiveness of different policy options and play an important role in fostering collaboration and enhancing knowledge holder and stakeholder engagement at the science-policy interface, identifying knowledge gaps and increasing national capacity.

In addition, a national ecosystem assessment can help build an improved understanding about the relevance and values of biodiversity and ecosystem services to multiple sectors and can support country responses to a range of intergovernmental agreements and processes, including implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), communicating mutually reinforcing messages.

As such, the role of a national ecosystem assessment in supporting implementation of the CBD spans over various key aspects of the CBD implementation process (see figure below), from planning—for example, by facilitating knowledge holder and stakeholder engagement and reinforcing capacities—to the implementation phase by supporting the integration of biodiversity and ecosystem services across sectors, as well as providing information to help monitor and report progress towards policy objectives.

Although this document is mainly focused on the contribution of national ecosystem assessments, assessment processes at other scales can also make a valuable contribution at the national level. The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) carries out global, regional, methodological, and thematic assessments. In developing its own assessment process and associated programs of capacity-building and support, IPBES has produced guidance that is valuable at the national level and at the same time encourages the implementation of national ecosystem assessments.

Section 1 and Section 2 of this document provide short introductions to ecosystem assessments and the IPBES assessment process. Section 3 contains the main body of the document and explores how national ecosystem assessments can facilitate implementation of the CBD, taking into consideration the different dimensions and stages of the policy cycle, from planning through reviewing and reporting.

The guidance document covers six themes which relate to different aspects of implementation of the Convention: biodiversity planning, national reporting, technical and scientific cooperation, capacity-building, communication, education, and public awareness, and resource mobilization. Case studies, identified through the workshops and the survey, are provided as practical examples.