06 January 2010
In January the Royal Society hosts one of the world’s largest scientific gatherings, the Inter-Academy Panel, the first time such a major international has gathered at the Society during its recent history.
The Panel brings together the national scientific academies of nearly 100 countries and meets only once every three to four years. This year, the theme of the meeting is biodiversity, recognising the United Nations declaration of 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity.
Preceding the General Assembly of the Panel is a two-day biodiversity conference exploring ways in which to map the economic value of ecosystems and the other benefits they provide for human populations. It will hear examples of innovative and successful management techniques from around the world, and crucially it will identify priorities and gaps in the science. The Society’s representative on the UK advisory group of the International Year is Professor Georgina Mace FRS, one of the world’s leading experts on conserving biodiversity. Georgina was one of the driving forces behind the rigorous scientific criteria by which species are judged to be endangered, vulnerable or critically endangered.
Professor Mace says: “The Inter-Academy Panel meeting at the Society in January coincides with the international biodiversity conference we are hosting, bringing together representatives from academies around the world. We will review the role that biodiversity plays in particular supporting soil formation and water cycling, sustainable fisheries, climate and disease regulation, cultural and aesthetic values. The meeting will highlight the most pressing needs but in particular we aim to focus especially on identifying the role that innovative science can play in reversing the trends."
The Inter-Academy Panel is a global network of the world’s science academies, launched in 1993. It currently has a membership of 103 scientific academies from around the world and includes both national academies and institutions as well as regional and global groupings of scientists. Since its inception IAP has issued statements on population growth, science education and biosecurity. The last General Assembly was held in Alexandria, Egypt in December 2006 and was devoted to the theme Unity in Science.