Scenario-based modelling is a powerful tool to describe relationships between plausible trajectories of drivers, possible policy interventions, and impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services. Model inter-comparisons are key in quantifying uncertainties and identifying avenues for model improvement but have been missing among the global biodiversity and ecosystem services modelling communities. The biodiversity and ecosystem services scenario-based inter-model comparison (BES-SIM) aims to fill this gap. We used global land-use and climate projections to simulate possible future impacts on terrestrial biodiversity and ecosystem services using a variety of models and a range of harmonized metrics.
The goal of this paper is to reflect on the steps taken in BES-SIM, identify remaining methodological challenges, and suggest pathways for improvement. We identified five major groups of challenges; the need to: 1) better account for the role of nature in future human development storylines; 2) improve the representation of drivers in the scenarios by increasing the resolution (temporal, spatial and thematic) of land-use as key driver of biodiversity change and including additional relevant drivers; 3) explicitly integrate species- and trait-level biodiversity in ecosystem services models; 4) expand the coverage of the multiple dimensions of biodiversity and ecosystem services; and finally, 5) incorporate time-series or one-off historical data in the calibration and validation of biodiversity and ecosystem services models. Addressing these challenges would allow the development of more integrated global projections of biodiversity and ecosystem services, thereby improving their policy relevance in supporting the interlinked international conservation and sustainable development agendas.