GBIF is a multilateral initiative established by intergovernmental agreement and based on a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). This is the current MoU document which is valid from 2012 onwards.
The signatories to this non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), being countries, economies, inter-governmental or international organisations, other organisations with an international scope, or entities designated by them, have decided that a co-ordinated international scientific effort is needed to enable users throughout the world to openly share and put to use vast quantities of global biodiversity data, thereby advancing scientific research in many disciplines, promoting technological and sustainable development, facilitating the conservation of biodiversity and the equitable sharing of its benefits, and enhancing the quality of life of members of society. The importance of making biodiversity data openly available to all countries and individuals is underscored by various international agreements. Recognising this need, the delegates to the Meeting of the OECD Committee for Scientific and Technological Policy at Ministerial Level in Paris on 22–23 June 1999 endorsed the recommendation that a Global Biodiversity Information Facility (hereinafter referred to as “GBIF”) be established, with open-ended participation. Noting that GBIF was established in March 2001, and that the first and second MOU for GBIF had each a duration of five years (2001-2006/2007-2011), the signatories to this Memorandum of Understanding hereby express their intention either to continue their existing Participation in GBIF or to become new Participants in GBIF as a mechanism of technical and scientific international co-operation.
GBIF (2010) GBIF Memorandum of Understanding. Copenhagen: Global Biodiversity Information Facility, 20 pp. Accessible online at http://www.gbif.org/resource/80661.