Catherine Febria’s workstation as she participates in the nine-day online IPBES panel.Catherine Febria’s workstation as she participates in the nine-day online IPBES panel.

Professor named as expert to international biodiversity working group

UWindsor researcher Catherine Febria was an expert called upon to address the scoping meeting of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), an international working group linked to the United Nations, March 23 to April 2.

Dr. Febria, a researcher at the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research and Canada Research Chair in Freshwater Restoration Ecology, oversees the Healthy Headwaters lab, where she and her team study the health of streams, drains, and wetlands that feed large bodies of water.

She has been involved with the panel since 2015, when she was a nominated as an early-career fellow in the Asia-Pacific assessment. In 2020, she is the only Canadian researcher to be nominated on this elite panel of 40 global science-policy experts.

Just as Febria was preparing to attend the 2020 scoping meeting in Bonn, Germany, the COVID-19 outbreak put a stop to academic travel. The organization quickly pivoted to a multi-day online conference using Zoom technology.

Febria said she was disappointed by the cancellation of the in-person meeting, but praised the teleconferencing solution.

“What the IPBES team accomplished was an incredible, very well organized meeting experience that accommodated time zones and self-isolation challenges,” she said.

“As a result, this global team of experts worked efficiently and produced what I think will be a needed roadmap for a new assessment focused on solutions and policy options that connect biodiversity, water, food and health in the context of climate change.”

With COVID-19 at the top of mind, it was not lost on the experts that there will be an increasing interest in how biodiversity and humans are inextricably linked. Febria sees global connection as being vital to addressing sustainability challenges in the future.

Academic Area: