Highlights from the 2011 IGBP annual report include the global carbon budget, the behaviour of complex cloud-aerosol-precipitation systems, past ice-sheet dynamics and sea-level changes, the Planet Under Pressure conference and national-committee activities.
Last year our core and joint projects as well as scientific- and national-committee members continued to facilitate and produce exciting research findings, some of which you can read about in various sections of this report. The research reflects traditional IGBP strengths and includes, for example, past changes in ice-sheet dynamics and sea level, ecosystem response to ocean acidification, and the climate effects of land-cover change. But new directions and innovative collaborations are also hinted at, as exemplified by the work on payment mechanisms for ecosystem services, which involved experts in economics, business, urban planning and ecology.
The IGBP secretariat led the preparations for the highly successful Planet Under Pressure conference, which dominated our activities during the past year. New partnerships were built by engaging the business and policy communities in key aspects of the conference, and diversity was emphasised. This ambitious event required unprecedented cooperation with our partners and a range of stakeholders, something the secretariat staff managed efficiently and successfully.
Via policy briefs and other products and processes, for example the planetary stewardship workshop at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, we worked throughout the past year to ensure that the science and other outputs from the Planet Under Pressure conference have an impact on Rio+20. Indeed, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed the conference: “I welcome the State of the Planet declaration issued today. Its timing, two months before the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, could not be better.”
IGBP’s recent evolution has emphasised policy-relevant and solutions-oriented research, transdisciplinarity and effective communication. The global-change research landscape is now being encouraged to change in a similar fashion. A new ten-year initiative promoted by the International Council for Science (ICSU), funding agencies
and several international organisations, entitled Future Earth: Research for Global Sustainability, is in the works.
The new initiative will build on the existing global-change research programmes and their projects to coordinate and focus international scientific research on global sustainability. We believe IGBP, with its truly international reach and over two decades of accumulated experience in research, networking and communication, should play a central role in facilitating a smooth transition to the new initiative over the next few years. We have provided timely inputs to the visioning process undertaken by ICSU. We are keeping our community informed of the developments and we are conveying our community’s concerns and suggestions. Our synthesis and integration activity, too, made good progress and several workshops relating to this activity were held with the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders.
We acknowledge the generous funding provided for the synthesis workshops by several agencies, including the US NSF, UK NERC, APN and Taiwan Environmental Protection Administration. In mid-2011, IGBP began a strategic management planning process with an emphasis on sustainability that encompasses both its operations and its international reach throughout the scientific community. Aspects of this exercise influenced the sustainability strategies put in place at Planet Under Pressure and will continue to be explored in the coming year.
Finally, we take this opportunity to thank Carlos Nobre who stepped down at the end of 2011 after six years as chair of the IGBP scientific committee. Carlos made valuable contributions to IGBP including raising the profile of developing-country research and researchers in IGBP, and setting up the Brazil Regional Office.
The Year in Review
IGBP Chair James Syvitski and
Executive Director Sybil Seitzinger,
2011 IGBP Annual Report
IGBP closed at the end of 2015. This website is no longer updated.