Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change


Geographical coverage

Geographical scale of the assessment Global
Country or countries covered
Any other necessary information or explanation for identifying the location of the assessment, including site or region name

All regions; for the current assessment the following division of regions is used: Africa, Europe, Asia, Australasia, North America, Central and South America, Polar Regions, Small Islands, Open Oceans.

Conceptual framework, methodology and scope

Assessment objectives

The role of the IPCC is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation. IPCC reports should be neutral with respect to policy, although they may need to deal objectively with scientific, technical and socio-economic factors relevant to the application of particular policies.

Mandate for the assessment

The original mandate was given by the governing bodies of WMO and UNEP; action by WMO and UNEP to set up the IPCC was endorsed by UN GA. The mandate is reaffirmed regularly by the governing bodies of the parent organizations. Specific requests for reports and topics addressed in report are made by the UNFCCC and other international bodies. However, the IPCC Plenary decides on the workprogramme of the Panel, which reports are being prepared as well as on their scope and outline.

Conceptual framework and/or methodology used for the assessment

Other (please specify)

Assessment of peer reviewed literature by author teams which should reflect a range of scientific, technical and socio-economic views and expertise; and geographical representation. Multi stage review by experts and governments is an essential element of the IPCC process.

URL or copy of conceptual framework developed or adapted

System(s) assessed

  • Marine
  • Coastal
  • Island
  • Inland water
  • Forest and woodland
  • Cultivated/Agricultural land
  • Grassland
  • Mountain
  • Dryland
  • Polar
  • Urban

Species groups assessed

All to the extent information is available

Ecosystem services/functions assessed


  • Food
  • Water
  • Timber/fibres
  • Energy/fuel
  • All to the extent information is available; systems with specific emphasis highlighted above


  • Air quality
  • Climate regulation
  • Moderation of extreme events
  • Regulation of water flows
  • Regulation of water quality
  • Waste treatment
  • All to the extent information is available; systems with specific emphasis highlighted above

Supporting Services/Functions

  • Habitat maintenance
  • Nutrient cycling
  • Soil formation and fertility
  • Primary production

Cultural Services

  • Recreation and tourism
  • All to the extent information is available; systems with specific emphasis highlighted above

Scope of assessment includes

Drivers of change in systems and services


Impacts of change in services on human well-being


Options for responding/interventions to the trends observed


Explicit consideration of the role of biodiversity in the systems and services covered by the assessment


Timing of the assessment

Year assessment started

Pre 2000

Year assessment finished


If ongoing, year assessment is anticipated to finish


Periodicity of assessment


If repeated, how frequently

Approximately every six to seven years

Assessment outputs


Communication materials (e.g. brochure, presentations, posters, audio-visual media)

Journal publications

Training materials

Other documents/outputs

Tools and processes

Tools and approaches used in the assessment

  • Modelling
  • Trade-off analysis
  • Geospatial analysis
  • Indicators
  • Scenarios
  • Economic valuation
  • Social (non-monetary) valuation
  • Based on scientific technical and socio economic literature

Process used for stakeholder engagement in the assessment process and which component

The main IPCC mandate is to provide information for decisionmakers, initially mainly governments. Over the years business and other stakeholders increasingly used IPCC reports and got engaged in the IPCC process. Thousands of scientists from all relevant fields are involved on a voluntary basis in the IPCC process as authors, contributors and expert reviewers. Before the IPCC starts a report it enters into a dialogue with users and scientists to explore information needs of decisionmakers and scientific developments. This can be done through various means including questionnaires or other written input, and scoping meetings. At the end of an assessment process the summary for policymakers is discussed and approved by government representatives, in a dialogue with the authors. The IPCC has also an observer policy and the active participation of observer organizations in the IPCC process has increased considerably. IPCC communication initially targeted decisionmakers in the public and private sector and academia. Communication with general public is achieved through media outreach, specific user groups are reached through activities by partner in the UN system or other observers.

Key stakeholder groups engaged

Policymakers and their advisors at all levels of governments; decisionmakers and planners in private sector; academia; UN bodies; NGOs

The number of people directly involved in the assessment process

More than 1000

Incorporation of scientific and other types of knowledge

  • Scientific information only
  • Resource experts (e.g. foresters etc)
  • Traditional/local knowledge
  • Citizen science
  • Priority should be given to peer-reviewed scientific, technical and socio-economic literature if available. Use of other literature brings with it an extra responsibility for the author teams to ensure the quality and validity of cited sources and information.

Supporting documentation for specific approaches, methodology or criteria developed and/or used to integrate knowledge systems into the assessment

Approaches include use of literature as explained above; the multi- stage review process is a powerful instrument to bring knowledge and literature to the attention of authors and have it reflected in the assessment; expert meetings and workshops are often used to get access to knowledge which does not appear in the peer reviewed literature, such as regional information; stakeholder consultations in the course of the review are aimed to achieve comprehensive coverage of knowledge and viewpoints.

Assessment reports peer reviewed



Accessibility of data used in assessment

In principle yes, depending on conditions established by respective datasource

Policy impact

Impacts the assessment has had on policy and/or decision making, as evidenced through policy references and actions

The first IPCC Report (1990) provided the basis for the UNGA to decide to initiate negotiations for a UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The IPCC supported the negotiations through updated assessments and after entry into force it remained a key source of information for the Convention bodies. IPCC reports have been referred to many times in COP decisions, including the recent decisions by COP-17. IPCC produced upon request or invitation by the UNFCCC a number of Special Reports, Methodology Reports and Technical Papers. IPCC methodologies provide the basis for the preparation of national greenhouse gas inventories by the Parties.

Independent or other review on policy impact of the assessment


Lessons learnt for future assessments from these reviews

A close dialogue between the policymakers community and the assessment body is essential to make the reports policy relevant and respond to information needs of decisionmakers, while maintaining the scientific independence of the assessment. The approval process of the summaries for policymakers at plenary level enhances the use and policy impact of the assessments.

Capacity building

Capacity building needs identified during the assessment

Capacity building needs are identified as appropriate but capacity building is not a core mandate of the IPCC. Most activities related to capacity building are carried out in the context of IPCC communications activities, through web-based tools such as the IPCC Data Distribution Center, or through partners . Fellowships is a new activity initiated with the fund from the Nobel Peace Prize and not a core IPCC activity.

Actions taken by the assessment to build capacity

Fellowships/exchanges/secondments/mentoring programmes, Network and sharing experiences, Sharing of data/repatriation of data, Workshops, Developing/promoting and providing access to support tools, Communication and awareness raising

How have gaps in capacity been communicated to the different stakeholders

Through communications activities or partner organizations

Knowledge generation

Gaps in knowledge identified from the assessment

All reports include also an assessment of gaps in knowledge, summarized either in the relevant chapter or in the summary reports

How gaps in knowledge have been communicated to the different stakeholders

After the completion of an assessment process consultations and expert meetings are held with relevant research programmes, e.g. those involved in ESSP to discuss gaps in knowledge and how they can be filled. But IPCC does not direct or influence the research agenda.

Additional relevant information