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Mandate and terms of reference of the SPI


The UNCCD Science-Policy Interface (SPI) was established in 2013 (at COP 11) and has had its mandate  renewed and refined in subsequent meetings of the UNCCD Conference of Parties (COP).

The SPI works to translate current science into policy-relevant recommendations resulting from assessment and synthesis of current science. This includes collaboration with and leveraging the products of other scientific panels and bodies. The SPI produces peer-reviewed technical reports as well as science-policy briefs designed to support policy development.  The SPI conducts peer-review of other scientific assessments and science-based communications. The SPI also communicates with the larger scientific community about the scientific knowledge requirements of the UNCCD and associated policy implications, encouraging relevant and salient research.

The Work Programme of the SPI  is determined by the UNCCD Committee on Science and Technology (CST), and the members are selected by the CST Bureau following an open application process.

In accordance with decision 23/COP.11, paragraph 3, the mandate of the SPI is to:

  • Establish the approach to deliver each task assigned to it by the Committee on Science and Technology (CST);
  • Analyze, synthesize and translate relevant scientific findings and recommendations from DLDD-related scientific conferences, including upcoming UNCCD scientific conferences, the roster of independent experts, as well as from relevant stakeholders and networks into proposals to be considered by the CST for the consideration of the COP;
  • Interact with existing multiple scientific mechanisms, in particular the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Intergovernmental Technical Panel on Soils and other new and existing scientific networks and platforms; and
  • Assist the Bureau of the CST in organizing the UNCCD scientific conferences and assessing their results.

In decision 19/COP.12, paragraph 2, the COP decided that the SPI mandate, as contained in decision 23/COP.11, paragraph 3, should be extended to enable the SPI, under the leadership of the Bureau of the CST, to:

  • Provide the CST with clear and well-defined thematic guidance on scientific knowledge requirements (e.g. thematic assessments, scientific studies and/or user guides) for implementing the UNCCD;
  • Identify the most optimal way forward (e.g. commissioning an individual or group of experts, organizing expert meetings, encouraging the organization of regional meetings by regional scientific institutions or networks) to address these knowledge requirements;
  • Draft terms of reference for the scientific work to be commissioned to external experts or institutes and ensure the quality of content according to the contract administered by the secretariat; and
  • Select experts, including from scientific societies, science and knowledge organizations, and CSOs, and networks known for their expertise in DLDD.

The SPI will operate up to the end of the sixteenth session of the COP (2023), at which time a review of the SPI will be presented.