Discussions at last year’s International Forum for Sustainable Asia and the Pacific (ISAP) focused on how the international community could take a bold step forward towards a decisively different decade, under the theme of "The Decisive Decade: Towards Integrated Solutions to Climate, Biodiversity and Other Planetary Challenges". While last year underlined the still relevant issue of integration across climate and biodiversity, this year's ISAP will also examine how to integrate science, policy and action.
The main theme of ISAP in 2022 is "Strengthening Synergies between Climate Change and Biodiversity: From Science to Policy to Action". Both climate change and biodiversity loss result from the expansion of an unsustainable relationship between nature and humans, posing a major threat to human society. How can we deal with these two deeply interconnected challenges? It is clear that individual policies and measures are not enough — we also need to make some fundamental changes in the structure of our societies and our economies. At ISAP2022, we will discuss how to address these two global challenges in a more integrated manner. An integrated approach will also have implications for human security, particularly in light of recent major geopolitical changes, triggered by the war in Ukraine. Discussions at ISAP this year will look at how these changes will impact future global environmental policies and what direction to take to meet the challenges we now face.
There is significant scope to strengthen integration between the agendas on climate change and biodiversity. We have seen the growth of communities related to research and policy on these issues, but these groups have often worked in separate silos. Greater cooperation would help to identify integrated solutions to climate change and biodiversity. It would also help anticipate and find a balance on climate change and biodiversity trade-offs, which tend not to be discussed much.
Recently, there has been growing engagement and communication between the international science and policy communities. Notably, in November 2022, the 27th Conference to the Parties (COP27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is being held. The negotiations at COP27 will have implications for biodiversity. By the same token, in December the 15th Conference to the Parties (COP15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is likely to adopt a “post-2020 global biodiversity framework” (GBF) that will, include tackling climate change as one of the elements for reducing threats to biodiversity. In addition, discussions on how to promote an integrated approach have been central to ongoing efforts to enhance cooperation between the Intergovernmental Science-policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
It is very encouraging to see these efforts to ensure stronger integration between international science and policy on climate change and biodiversity. There is nonetheless a risk that high-level discussions are too conceptual and will not resonate with decision-makers on the ground. If that is the case, then there is a real concern that any progress made in international policy and science will not be translated into tangible actions.
With this in mind, we have organised ISAP2022 around sessions that not only aim to advanced the debate on climate change and biodiversity, and on integrated solutions to these global challenges, but will also encourage discussion on strengthening the interface between science, policy and action. And in this "decisive decade," ISAP will host a wide variety of sessions to deepen discussions and secure as many options as possible for the future, so that we can continue to enjoy the Earth’s natural environment under a stable climate for years to come.