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Supporting IPBES capacity building in West Africa

As of: January 2022

The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, IPBES, is tasked with providing scientific advice to governments on the topics of biodiversity and ecosystem services. The project aims to develop a model for strengthening the work of IPBES in West Africa. The overarching goal of this programme is to network domain experts working in biodiversity and ecosystem services, and to expand existing interfaces between research and government. Annual conferences promote cooperation and knowledge sharing between researchers about current developments in the field of biodiversity. This is supplemented by online forums that help to bring domain experts and decision-makers together from the region and further afield. A master’s programme focusing on the evaluation of biodiversity and ecosystem services is also being set up at a university in West Africa. Students from 15 partner countries are eligible to enrol in this programme.

State of implementation/results

  • An online mini-workshop was held on 17 August 2021 (title: "Enhancing the capacities of West African National Focal Points and Experts on Engaging in IPBES Processes - the case of the Nexus and Transformative Change Assessments"). The workshop was well attended with 35 participants from 14 African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Niger, Senegal, Sierra-Leone, Gambia and Togo) as well as from Germany and the United Kingdom.
  • The project was presented as an example of good practice at the IPBES Stakeholder Days (4-8 June 2021), at a colloquium at the University of Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo (27-29 May 2021) and at the WASCAL Symposium on Research and Capacity Development (22-23 September 2021).
  • Scientific publications were generated from research conducted by first-year Master's students, including Ouedraogo et al. (2021, Journal of Agricultural Studies, 9(3), 336-351), Dao et al. (2021, Agronomie Africaine, 33(1), 21-32) and Sogodogo et al. (2021, European Scientific Journal, 17(13), 41).
  • In a 2-day workshop with all supervisors, the second-year Master's students successfully defended their Master's thesis proposals on 8 and 9 June 2021 and were then able to start their fieldwork.
  • Lectures of the second batch of Master's students are still to a large extent provided via digital platforms. The revised curriculum is successfully implemented through interactive teaching formats and digital classrooms.
  • Based on the positive feedback, one more mini-workshop was held in 2020 to raise awareness amongst African experts and governments about the Business and Biodiversity assessment and the options to identify and nominate experts.
  • The project facilitates communication between West African experts and the international IPBES community, for example through the co-organisation of the online workshop, 3 and 4 November 2020 on “ Linking Science and Policy for Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity” together with the Young Ecosystem Services Specialists (YESS).
  • WABES contributes to the IPBES capacity building mandate, e.g. by contributing to the IPBES Capacity Building Forum, 7./8.12.2020 or by contributing to the online workshop on “Pathways to a Regional Biodiversity Platform in Central Asia, Workshop” 16 to 18 March 2021.
  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all major project activities of present events scheduled within this timeframe have been moved to virtual formats.
  • The graduation of the first year of the Master programme „Managing the Science-Policy Interface on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services for sustainable development in West Africa – SPIBES“ was successfully completed. The defence of the work took place in a virtual meeting at the end of July 2020. All 15 students from 14 countries in West Africa have successfully obtained their master's degree.
  • Since April 2020, most lectures for the second year of SPIBES Master's students have been held via digital platforms. The newly revised curriculum is successfully implemented through highly interactive teaching formats and digital classrooms.
  • A series of virtual mini-workshops are being held in 2020 in place of the originally planned in-person workshop targeting West African biodiversity experts from academia, policy and societal actors. Until September 2020, three of these workshops were held with the support of the IPBES Secretariat on (1) "Scoping process of the IPBES Nexus Assessment" on 22 July; (2) "IPBES Transformative Change Assessment" on 20 August, and; (3) "First Order Draft of the IPBES Assessment on Invasive Alien Species" on 22 September with Prof. Helen Roy, Co-Chair of the Assessment. We will be conducting more workshops in a similar format, based on very positive feedback from participants and IPBES secretariat.
  • Through close cooperation and interactive formats, these workshops narrow the gaps between SPIBES students, researchers and government representatives from West Africa. This collaboration offers the students valuable insights into practices in the science-policy interface. These contacts may support the students in filling interesting positions after graduation.
  • The project facilitates communication between West African experts and the international IPBES community, for example through joint participation in the review process on IPBES products, such as the new assessments, and through network activities in the context of IPBES plenary sessions.
  • WABES contributes directly and indirectly to the IPBES capacity building mandate, including through the participation of WABES partners and stakeholders as resource persons in the IPBES taskforce for capacity building and through all other project activities.

Project data

Ghana, Ivory Coast

Implementing organisation:
Universität Bonn

Political partner(s):
  • Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) - Ghana
  • Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MESRSCI) - Côte d‘Ivoire

Implementing partner(s):
  • Félix Houphouët Boigny University (UFHB) - Côte d‘Ivoire
  • Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung GmbH (UFZ)
  • Nangui Abrogoua University (UNA) - Côte d‘Ivoire
  • UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC)
  • West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL)

BMU grant:
2.493.294,72 €

02/2017  till  07/2022


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