Bonn to house top UN panel on biodiversity

April 20, 2012

The former West German capital of Bonn has been chosen for the secretariat of a UN expert panel on biodiversity, the organisation announced on Thursday.

The decision was made at a plenary meeting in Panama City of the Intergovernmental Platform on and Ecosystem Services, or IPBES, according to an announcement on the platform's website.

"Germany (Bonn) wins the vote to host the IPBES secretariat by majority in the fourth round of the voting process," it said in a flash news item.

IPBES was set up in 2010 after five years in gestation. It held its first gathering in Nairobi last October.

Its goal is to imitate the success of the UN's (IPCC), in which thousands of scientists draw up an assessment of global warming to help policymakers.

Some biologists say that Earth is in the early stages of a sixth mass extinction, a man-made phenomenon driven by habitat loss, hunting, introduced species and climate damage.

The 2008 "Red List" assessment by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) found that 38 percent of 44,837 species were threatened.

Bonn was the capital of West Germany until German reunification in 1990. It was the united country's seat of government until 1999, when Berlin became the capital, but retained many government departments.

IPBES will join two other big UN environment organisations -- the Framework Convention on Change (UNFCCC) and the Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) -- whose secretariats are in Bonn.

The five-day meeting in Panama, ending on Saturday, also aims at setting down procedures and a work programme, IPBES said.

Explore further: The biodiversity crisis: Worse than climate change

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