Potential concerns and responses relating to the Data4Nature initiative

Annex 2 to the Data4Nature Coalition statement

The following table presents some questions and concerns that commonly arise when encouraging the sharing of primary biodiversity data. The suggested responses will assist development actors in implementing the Data4Nature principles within their own organizations as well as engagement with clients and recipients:

Concern Response
Companies or consultants do not possess the knowledge or skills required to comply with commitments to share biodiversity data Guidance, support and training on formatting and sharing primary biodiversity data are available through GBIF’s network of national nodes, and will be tailored specifically to implementation of the Data4Nature initiative
Publishing precise data on location of sensitive species (e.g. endangered, high-value) could lead to poaching or piracy, representing a potential liability for those sharing such data Detailed guidance provided by GBIF outlines best practices for the generalization of coordinates relating to occurrence of sensitive species in open-access data
Data published during the licensing process for development projects could be commercially sensitive Publication of data may be delayed or embargoed until the completion of the licensing process
A company faces possible reputational risk from sharing of data if, for example, biodiversity is damaged Over time, increased open data on species distributions will allow for more robust and transparent assessments of site-specific damage that can provide reputational dividends
Sharing of data may need government approval and buy-in Guidelines from the Convention on Biological Diversity (annex to Decision CBD/COP/DEC/XIII/31) encourage open data sharing from environmental impact assessments, and data mobilized through GBIF is an indicator of progress towards CBD targets (see Annex 1)
A company could incur additional costs and require additional effort to monitor biodiversity and share data Experience shows that costs of sharing data are negligible within overall development budgets; costs of monitoring should already be captured within the project budget, publication is free of charge, and open-access data can provide long-term savings by providing a baseline for future assessments
Companies that do not invest in sharing data can benefit from free and open data available through GBIF more than others that contribute to its supply and maintenance “Free riders” exist in any commons, but a large common pool resource such as GBIF is not depleted by use, and parties that do participate typically build receptive capacity to understand the issues and limitations of the resource better than those that do not
If data publisher are publishing data without good quality control in the name of the Data4Nature initiative, the company or the donors can face some reputational risk (How quality control is secured?) GBIF has standard routines in place to check for inconsistencies in the data and flag to publishers