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Professor Janne Kotiaho appointed as chair of Finnish national IPBES panel

Ministry of the Environment 18.1.2019 10.54 | Published in English on 18.1.2019 at 11.30
Press release
Janne Kotiaho. © Picture: Petteri Kivimäki

“The Panel is finding solutions for questions that will decide the fate of humankind”, says professor.

The Ministry of the Environment has appointed Janne Kotiaho, Professor of Ecology at the University of Jyväskylä, as the chair of the Nature Panel, the Finnish national panel for the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), for its 2019–2022 term. Kotiaho’s succeeds Professor Jari Niemelä who chaired the Panel during the 2015–2018 term and then, in late 2018, started his work as the Rector of the University of Helsinki.

The Finnish Nature Panel is the national contact for IPBES, an organisation established in 2012 as a response to the continued loss of biodiversity. Both nationally and internationally, its mission is to strengthen interaction between science and policy in questions of biodiversity and ecosystem services and to stop the loss of biodiversity.

In Finland, the Nature Panel has inspired wide-ranging public debate by highlighting the latest scientific knowledge on the decline of the state of the environment and Earth’s carrying capacity.

“It’s fair to say that the Nature Panel is finding solutions for questions that will decide the fate of humankind. As human beings, we are completely dependent on ecosystem services, such as food, clean water and other effects of the natural environment on our wellbeing. Meanwhile, scientific research is telling us that loss of biodiversity is continuing across the globe and even in Finland half of our habitats are endangered. We should strengthen the role of evidence-based knowledge in decision making to maintain Earth habitable”, says Kotiaho.

Alongside his professorship, Janne Kotiaho directs JYU.WISDOM, a multifaculty research community at the University of Jyväskylä pursuing resource wisdom and sustainability research. A permanent member of the Finnish Nature Panel also during the previous term, Kotiaho was one of coordinating main writers of an IPBES report on the state of the world’s ecosystems, published last year.

“One of our key conclusions was that manmade destruction of ecosystems along with climate change are already decreasing the wellbeing of billions people. This in turn increases instability and the likelihood of conflicts, which may lead to hundreds of millions of people becoming refugees. Even though this is a worrying state of affairs, we have tools to fix it. The most dramatic changes must take place in the implementation of measures that have been agreed on internationally but will be put into practice nationally, such as increased protection and restoration of habitats. For us to stop the negative development, we also need considerable extra funding for nature conservation,” says Kotiaho.

The Nature Panel has 21 environmental experts who represent a broad range of Finnish universities, research institutes and central government. The acting secretary of the Nature Panel is Juha Pöyry, Senior Research Scientist at the Finnish Environment Institute.

The first major effort of the new Nature Panel is to comment on and take forward nationally IPBES’s latest Assessment Report describing the state of the world’s diversity and ecosystem services. The Report will be adopted at the beginning of May in Paris.

Inquiries:

Olli Ojala, Senior Specialist, Ministry of the Environment, tel. +358 29 525 0039, [email protected]

Professor Janne Kotiaho, Chair of the Nature Panel, tel. +358 50 594 6881, [email protected]