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Quantitative indicators of change in Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services represent an important assessment element. Complementing other forms of information and knowledge that follow general guidelines but are not necessarily harmonized, standardized indicators have the potential to provide a common thread and quantitative point of comparison among assessments. They also facilitate the synthesis envisioned for the global assessment.

Indicators are here defined as measures or signs that reflect the status, cause or outcome of an object or process. Since indicators can help simplify the enormous complexity of datasets, variables, frameworks and approaches available, they are also useful tools for communicating the results of the assessment. It is, however, important to recognize the limitations of a given set of indicators in capturing the complexities of the ‘real world’, since indicators are restricted to what can be measured and for which there is available data. Notably, these limitations are especially significant when it comes to non-material nature’s benefits to people and good quality of life. Moreover, the choices of indicators are more or less related to diverse worldviews and cultural perspectives. Hence, in the assessment IPBES indicators are subject to critical analysis and contextualised in broader narratives.

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Maps of IPBES regions and subregions