Dr. Vanesa Rodríguez Osuna

“Nature provides the foundation of all economies, which can only thrive if we protect, restore and sustainably use our natural capital. Our well-being and prosperity depend on our relationship with nature.”

Portraitfoto Dr. Vanesa Rodríguez Osuna Foto bereitgestellt von
Dr. Vanesa Rodríguez Osuna

Angaben zur Person:

Dr. Vanesa Rodríguez Osuna, MSc. Environmental Engineer
Senior Technical Advisor / Food Finance Leadership Coordinator

Institutionelle Anbindung:

  • Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit - GIZ GmbH
  • UNEP Finance Initiative – UNEP Finance Initiative

Weitere Hintergrundinformationen zu Person und Institution:

Autorin in welcher Expertengruppe / Task Force (vergangen und gegenwärtig); ggf.weitere Funktionen im IPBES-Prozess


What is your motivation to actively participate in the IPBES process?

IPBES is the most important science-policy platform for nature-related topics given their membership of 138 governments in addition to the most important international conventions.
I like to contribute to the valuable work of IPBES because I believe that a strong scientific and policy-relevant basis contributes to better decision making by policy makers and leaders and can foster a transition towards a net zero and nature positive world.
I also love the collaboration with great scientists and experts from a wide range of disciplines and across the world that jointly work on very complex topics and understand the need of making this work scientifically sound, policy-relevant, and useful for decision makers.

What do you consider as being original and special about IPBES?
IPBES reports are requested and approved by government members and therefore are highly relevant for decision makers compared to the purely scientific approach (curiosity-driven).
IPBES reports go through a robust peer-review process by governments and other key stakeholders (including international treaties, indigenous peoples) and the authors are nominated by governments or accredited institutions and then selected by a multi-disciplinary expert panel. Another particularity is that other knowledge systems and grey literature are systematically considered in the formal assessment process.

You have been involved in the IPBES-process (which one?) for a while. Which experiences did you make and what did really impress you?
I have been regularly involved in IPBES geographic and thematic work since 2014 (Americas, global, nexus, business & biodiversity assessments) as Lead or Coordinating Lead Author.
I was also involved in dialogues with national focal points and governments and supporting the scientific team at an IPBES plenary, where I could experience that the proposals, we have worked on, were approved by all governmental members of IPBES. This experience was very positive. It is also very rewarding to see the uptake of the key findings of our joint work by funding agencies, regional and global initiatives, national strategies, companies´ initiatives and world leaders from various sectors.

For which chapter/s did you apply and what would be a good result from your point of view?
I was involved in Chapters 1 and 6 and the Summary for Policymakers of the Americas Assessment, a chapter of the IPBES Global Assessment and the scoping assessments for the a) Americas; b) the nexus among biodiversity, water, food, and health in the context of climate change, and c) the business & biodiversity assessment.
From my point of view, a good result is achieved when these assessments are approved by governments and sufficient resources are allocated towards their implementation, which was the case for all those above-mentioned assessments. The only exception is the business & biodiversity assessment, which will be hopefully approved during the next IPBES plenary in 2022.
Once these assessment reports are implemented and key findings and summary for policymakers come out of this process, uptake of the key findings by different stakeholders (in local, regional, national policies, strategies, plans) is one of the most important success factors.

Which experiences have you already made in science-policy-interfaces?
I gained very interesting and successful experiences in the science-policy interface. I took various scientific and non-scientific roles across various geographies and sectors, which give me a broad perspective on how environmental issues are perceived by different stakeholders.
In my technical assistance work on green technologies at GIZ in 7 countries, we fostered the involvement of scientific institutions in dialogues with governmental stakeholders in partner countries (ministries). We encouraged the consideration of scientific inputs in the project implementation, for example in the formulation of improved policies, national and local strategies and co-developing of pilot projects.
In another role, I led a R&D project in New York, where we developed a science-based framework and method to measure the impact of investment portfolios on various environmental themes (related to water, climate/public health, and food systems). Sustainable portfolios with increased capital flows are important and needed to reduce the pressure on environmental policies to drive better environmental outcomes, and especially where enforcement is weak.
Some of my work at the Center for Development Research (ZEF) included encouraging science-policy dialogue to foster the integration of biodiversity considerations in Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) in Bolivia. I led several expert meetings in Bolivia and Germany involving key biodiversity and EIAs experts as well as government representatives involved in the environmental licensing procedure for development projects. Results were published and included in the curricula of future environmental professionals.
At GIZ in Bolivia, I was responsible for the first export of Vicugna fiber from the national management program that ensured income generation for local communities while incentivizing the conservation of this endangered species. This work required the consideration of good scientific assessments and close collaboration with governmental institutions (environmental, tax and customs authorities).

Which opportunities and challenges do you expect when engaging in such interfaces?
To me, some of the most important challenges in this interface are language barriers: scientists and policy makers tend to speak different “languages” when talking about the same topics. The depth to which certain topics are addressed and time horizons varies widely too. For example, politicians tend to focus in the short-term and voter´s preferences, while for scientists, environmental and social issues are mostly seen with a long-term horizon and independent of voter´s preferences or policy cycles.
There are many opportunities to make the most of the great knowledge generated from IPBES assessments. An important one is to mainstream IPBES´ key insights on a) the drivers of biodiversity loss and b) the available solutions to conserve, restore and sustainably use biodiversity and ecosystems, while supporting the Paris and 2030 Development Agendas.

What would be your personal wish for the future of IPBES?
I wish that IPBES makes a stronger case for the interlinked nature of addressing the biodiversity, climate, and pollution crises. There has been a strong development on climate risk awareness, which now needs to be better connected to the role of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation in exacerbating the negative impacts of climate change (and also on pandemics). At the same time, I hope IPBES can highlight more how biodiversity and healthy ecosystems are an important part of the solution to these crises and provide essential and wide contributions to the well-being of societies.