BIOTA-FAPESP Program celebrates 20 years of contributing to public policy
August 26, 2020
By Maria Fernanda Ziegler | Agência FAPESP – Knowledge of biodiversity, and especially of the benefits obtained by means of natural processes such as pollination and water resources, is an essential input into public policymaking in a wide array of areas.
This is the main rationale driving the FAPESP Research Program on Biodiversity Characterization, Conservation, Restoration and Sustainable Use (BIOTA-FAPESP). Launched in March 1999, BIOTA-FAPESP is one of Brazil’s most ambitious programs of research on biodiversity. In the 20 years since its inception, it has not only increased knowledge and understanding of biodiversity but also built a scientific foundation for the formulation of guidelines and policies governing biodiversity conservation and restoration.
“Our survival on this planet requires the study and conservation of biodiversity, but this is no merely academic area of interest. It is strongly linked to the conservation of forests and water resources, as well as climate change, to take only a few examples,” said Marco Antonio Zago, president of FAPESP, in his opening remarks to an online seminar held to present the results obtained by projects recently conducted for the program.
“The program has also established a large database, produced knowledge, and resulted in more than a hundred widely read and reproduced articles by Agência FAPESP and Pesquisa FAPESP magazine,” Zago noted.
The webinar marked the start of the commemoration of the program’s twentieth anniversary.
“When society looks at biodiversity, it mostly thinks of nature providing the active principle of a cure for cancer or an infinity of other solutions. However, it’s important to realize that none of this will be possible unless we study and understand nature,” said Luiz Eugênio Mello, scientific director of FAPESP.
According to Carlos Joly, who chairs the BIOTA-FAPESP steering committee, the research lines are expected to remain the same, but the program will take novel forms. One of these is the creation of biodiversity synthesis centers which will be responsible for recognizing patterns that transcend separations between ecosystems and the divisions of traditional taxonomy and identifying the natural forces responsible for the patterns in question. The goal is to integrate the research findings of different centers in order to advance scientific knowledge and address societal problems (read more at: agencia.fapesp.br/29016).
Another topic was the deployment of modeling and scenario-building approaches to estimate the impact of environmental legislation in the past or forecast the impact of new legislation. Both initiatives aim to foster evidence-based public policy.
“Like biodiversity synthesis centers in Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States, ours will be able to produce new knowledge from existing data, train new researchers to work on multidisciplinary and collaborative projects, and conduct higher-impact studies,” said Jean Paul Metzger, another member of the program’s steering committee.
According to Metzger, synthesis centers can only strengthen the achievements of the program in the past 20 years. “The first attempt at valuing ecosystem services was undertaken by a synthesis center, for example. The conclusion was that their value is double that of world GDP,” he said.
The other participants in the event were Ricardo Ribeiro Rodrigues (University of São Paulo), Cecília Amaral (University of Campinas), Célio F. B. Haddad (São Paulo State University), Norberto Peporine Lopes (University of São Paulo), Eliana Rodrigues (Federal University of São Paulo), and Isabel Rosa (Bangor University, UK).
A complete recording of the webinar is available at: youtu.be/5BoJ73-2SPY.
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