Publishing: Biodiversity reports need author rules

Journal name:
Nature
Volume:
516,
Page:
170
Date published:
DOI:
doi:10.1038/516170c
Published online

Two representatives from the agrochemical industry are among 40 authors of a fast-track assessment of pollinators by the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES; see go.nature.com/q8lll2). In our view, to support the credibility of assessment results, the IPBES needs a policy requiring authors to declare all funding sources, positions held and other potential conflicts of interest.

It is unclear how the IPBES deals with conflicts of interest. Their second plenary meeting last December postponed a decision on the matter. Authors are nominated by IPBES member states and other stakeholders to “reflect the range of scientific, technical and socio-economic views and expertise; geographical representation ... ; the diversity of knowledge systems ... ; and gender balance”. But the IPBES has no explicit rules for nomination or selection.

IPBES assessments could lead to far-reaching policy interventions, with financial implications for industry sectors (for example, in mining after assessment of land degradation and restoration, or for transport after invasive-species assessment). Given the role of agrochemicals in pollinator decline (J. van der Sluijs et al. Environ. Sci. Pollut. Res. http://doi.org/xcx; 2014), it is our view that scientists funded by such corporations should not be lead authors or coordinating lead authors on such assessments.

We also suggest that the IPBES publishes the names of all nominated authors, along with their nominators and justification for their appointment.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Trier University, Germany.

    • Axel Hochkirch
  2. Newcastle University, UK.

    • Philip J. K. McGowan
  3. University of Bergen, Norway.

    • Jeroen van der Sluijs

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