David Obura Becomes First African to Chair Global Science Body

Kenyan ecology enthusiast, David Obura has become the first African to be elected chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services(IPBES).

Obura, who will serve for a three-year term, attended three IPBES assessments before moving to the body’s science and research side, making him the first African Chair.

His expertise and interest in people’s nature-driven livelihoods led him to majorly contribute to international environmental assessments by scientific organizations like IPBES, thus securing high-profile jobs.

According to Obura, he was drawn to the assessments as they offer the solutions sought by stakeholders, governments and other actors.

Photo showing inside IPBES offices in Panama City, Spain


“It is a great honor to be in this position, realising that the critical challenge that we have on the planet is really one of equity among countries,” noted the new chair.

Obura further praised Africa for its equity across knowledge and decision-making, which he hopes to paste into the organisation to reinforce global cooperation among countries.

Speaking during an interview with the International Press Service(IPS) News Agency, Obura narrated that his passion for ecology began as a child when his mother took him camping in national parks.

Furthermore, spending two years studying on the West Coast of Canada and exploring scuba diving also deepened his connection with the sea and biology.

Additionally, Obura established a non-profit organization, CORDIO, following his long career studying coral reefs.

CORDIO is based in East Africa and conducts research, monitoring and capacity building of corals and other marine life in mainland Africa and the Indian Ocean.

Launched in 2012, the IPBES, headquartered in Panama City, Spain, aimed to strengthen the sustainability and use of biodiversity, long-term human well-being, and development.

IPBES is not a United Nations (UN) body. However, it receives secretariat services from the UN following authorisation of the United Nations Environment Programme(UNEP) governing council 2013, as requested by the body’s Plenary.

Photo showing outside UNEP offices in Nairobi, Kenya



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