The executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Braulio Dias, has called for 'continuous partnership' to enhance access to biodiversity data, following the framework of the Global Biodiversity Informatics Outlook, coordinated by GBIF.
Dias made the appeal during his opening statement to the CBD's Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA), meeting this week in Montreal, Canada.
He challenged the governments represented at the meeting to ask themselves how often they hid behind a perceived lack of knowledge, data, baselines and monitoring information to explain lack of progress towards meeting targets for reversing biodiversity loss.
"Yes, access to credible data is a challenge everywhere," Dias told the meeting. "But have we really done enough to mobilize data that is available, but hidden in various institutions; or for which only partial or aggregated published information is accessible, when raw data is needed for additional analysis and modelling?
"Are we really collaborating with organizations and networks that maintain regional and global databases, and contributing systematically to these databases? And are we really investing in efforts to link our national datasets with those from other countries?"
Braulio Dias referred to the "landmark" conference organized by GBIF last year in Copenhagen, leading to the GBIO document proposing to enhance access to biodiversity data from different sources, such as collections, literature, remote sensing, DNA sequencing and field surveys, among other sources. "I would like to suggest that we transform this into a framework for a continuous partnership or initiative to help the implementation of Aichi Target 19 [on enhancing and sharing biodiversity knowledge] and benefiting implementation of all the other targets," Dias concluded.
During a panel discussion in the opening plenary session of the SBSTTA meeting, the GBIF executive secretary, Donald Hobern, also commended the GBIO as an achievable approach to deliver fundamental data for biodiversity in all parts of the world.
"This report is offered as a roadmap for us all," Hobern said. "We urge governments and funding bodies to support the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity by investing resources in mobilizing biodiversity information as part of a globally coordinated activity. The most critical need is for governments to legislate and provide incentives for all stakeholders to contribute their biodiversity data as part of a shared knowledgebase from which we can all benefit."
During the plenary discussion, several national governments expressed support for the GBIO approach, including Colombia and the United Kingdom, which described it as "a significant step forward".
GBIF Secretariat is organizing a side event on the GBIO during the SBSTTA meeting, on Wednesday 16 October at 6.15pm, in the International Civil Aviation Organization building in Montreal.