Two days of stakeholder discussions have ended. Networking among the large and heterogeneous groups of stakeholders is a core activity for the SCB delegation during this IPBES meeting. Among us, all agree that stakeholders have clear importance to the success of IPBES. We also managed quite smoothly in discussing topics such as internal organization and management among the stakeholders. The challenge is now how to make governments accept this view, and provide the stakeholders with sufficient influence and resources to enable our contributions. For that purpose, a joint statement is being prepared for the start of the plenary meeting tomorrow morning. It will address our commitment to IPBES, communicate the importance of endorsing and implementing the stakeholder engagement strategy, but also highlight some concerns expressed by the stakeholders. For example, one issue which we raised during the discussions was that stakeholders must have the possibility to nominate experts to the working groups.
The only issue of obvious disagreement among the stakeholders actually relates to the term “stakeholder” itself. This expression does not reflect the status of indigenous people and hence they feel not fully respected in the process. However, the term stakeholder seems to be already so established within IPBES that no other identifier besides the Members of the Platform exists. This, evidently, complicates our own internal communication. When reflecting on this problem we realize that it is also difficult for others since it suggest that we are more “down the line” rather than being central contributors to IPBES. The other term used is “Observers” which is the role of SCB and other Stakeholder organizations in the Plenary meeting. This is even worse since it suggests no other role apart from sitting on the side-bench and listening. Some suggested the term “Partners” must be used – other said it’s risky. A small identity crisis? For us it’s something to reflect upon during the evening in the piano bar, but other people will likely reflect much more ferociously during the Plenary itself.