Professor to join international body on biodiversity and ecosystem services

Two researchers in front of sign

Dr. Febria with IPBES Fellow Dr. Amani Al-Assaf at IPBES Plenary in Medellín, Colombia (2018). Photo credit: C.Febria


Canadian Professor to join the international Intergovernmental science-policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

Catherine Febria, will sit on the multidisciplinary expert panel (MEP) for a three-year appointment. This September, Dr. Febria, a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Freshwater Restoration Ecology and Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Integrative Biology and the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research (GLIER), will travel to the UN Campus in Bonn, Germany to begin the work.

“It’s an incredible privilege to be elected to this role, a first for Canada and from the IPBES Fellows – it’s validating to be recognized in this way and know that my interdisciplinary training and diverse experiences in different science systems, cultures and at both local and global scales have all contributed to the kind of expertise needed.,” says Febria.

“My hope is that I can help promote and mobilize science into policy at all scales, for the benefit of our planet’s biodiversity and future generations.”

Febria takes an approach [in her research] that considers not only policy, but on-the-ground actions – explicitly considering the range of nature’s contributions to people. Partnerships, Indigenous and local knowledge systems are at the core of her work.

This three-year appointment will involve regular global meetings and involvement in assessing technical reviews, syntheses, and other products that IPBES develops. Febria hopes to leverage this opportunity to her current research, teaching and service contributions at UWindsor.

Canada’s National Focal Point for IPBES, ZuZu Gadallah at Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), supported Febria’s nomination.

“She is the kind of researcher that should be on the MEP, says Dr. Gadallah.

“Her research does exactly what IPBES strives to do in its assessments: to combine findings from different knowledge systems and different academic disciplines into a coherent, policy-relevant analysis. In fact, her experience as an IPBES fellow has informed her work, providing a concrete example of how IPBES products and processes can lead to positive biodiversity outcomes”.

Notably, this includes Febria’s recent leadership at the University of Windsor hosted Ecosystem Approach Conference and Synthesis Workshops, which drew more than 120 science, scholars, experts and policy-makers together in August.

Moreover, Gadallah remarked on her extensive global research experience as one of the inaugural Fellows with IPBES (2015-2018), Co-Chair of New Zealand’s Biological Heritage National Science Challenge’s International Science Advisory Panel and authentic and sustained engagement with local and Indigenous knowledge systems as integral components of her research.

“Dr Febria has made outreach and ‘science translation’ core activities of her lab, and this approach and her experience will also contribute to her value as a MEP member,” says Gadallah.

“Her approach embodies the multiple value perspectives that IPBES has consistently championed.”

Chris Houser, interim vice president of research and innovation at the university, says Febria is deserving of this honour.

“The need for transnational environmental research in the Great Lakes region and beyond is increasing, and Dr. Febria’s expertise in freshwater restoration has perhaps never been more critical,” says Dr. Houser.

“Her research is a great example of how University of Windsor researchers are making a difference in the quality of life for others.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – or IPCC – is widely recognized as the scientific authority advising the world’s governments on climate change, its impacts, and options for mitigation and adaptaton. Just over a decade ago, IPBES was launched to do the same for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

IPBES is an independent intergovernmental body, currently with 139 member governments, supported by four United Nations agencies. In addition to producing scientific assessments that are able to support decision-making, IPBES works to build our knowledge, support policy development, and build capacity to strengthen the science-policy interface.

The IPBES-MEP is an incredibly selective and elected panel of 25 experts from around the world with only 5 positions reserved for all western Europe, North American, Australia and New Zealand states underscoring the importance of Dr. Febria’s appointment. IPBES-MEP carries out the mandate to provide scientific and technical advice to IPBES, uphold the scientific peer review process and support bringing Indigenous and local knowledge systems into the science-policy interface.