External review finds EU-funded BID programme succeeds in delivering its objectives

Evaluation has assessed the impacts of the Biodiversity Information for Development programme, found increased capacity in mobilization and use of biodiversity data in science and policy

Shepherds tree (Boscia albitrunca), Namibia. Photo 2021 Nick Helme via iNaturalist Research-grade Observations, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

An external evaluation of Biodiversity Information for Development (BID)—a multi-year programme funded by the European Union and led by GBIF—has concluded that it has successfully delivered on its overall objectives. The reviewers found that 102 projects supported through BID have empowered the GBIF network, filling data gaps, improving data quality and data skills, and making broad contributions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The complete report is available through Capacity4Dev, an online knowledge-sharing platform managed by the European Commission’s Directorate General for International Partnerships (DG INTPA), BID's primary funder.

"We're pleased to have the reviewers confirm what we see everyday," said Joe Miller, GBIF executive secretary. "BID has increased the availability and use of open data on biodiversity in participating countries, established cross-border partnerships, strengthened the regional communities of practice in sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific that have empowered our entire network."

The report's findings highlight several of the quantitative achievements of the programme since its launch in 2015:

  • Publication of 703 biodiversity datasets from 106 distinct institutions totaling 1.3 million species occurrences
  • 1.8 million users requested downloads containing a combined total of 3 billion records from BID-mobilized datasets
  • 715 publications—including 479 peer-reviewed journal articles and 34 IUCN Red List assessments—have cited and used data mobilized through BID projects, with 20 per cent of them including authors from eligible countries
  • Eleven capacity enhancement workshops enabling 208 trainees to receive certification of their skills in biodiversity data mobilization and use
  • More than 500 individuals belonging to 398 institutions formed new partnerships and collaborations by participating BID's 102 funded projects
  • 123 volunteer trainers and mentors (43 from eligible countries) have joined the community of practice
  • 16 BID-eligible countries have become GBIF participants

The evidence collected in the evaluation suggests that the majority of participating projects would not have been able to succeed without BID funding. In fact, the programme often led to new funding and collaboration opportunities, thanks in part to the greater credibility and improved reputation that participating in BID lent the institutions.

"We commend GBIF on the achievements of the BID programme so far" said Thierry Dudermel, Team Leader for Biodiversity at DG INTPA. He continued: "As highlighted in the external evaluation report, BID has successfully mobilized biodiversity data and skills to overcome important information gaps and support effective decision-making in ACP countries. The programme’s approach to capacity development is transformative. It is fully in line with the EU Green Deal priorities and the objectives of the newly adopted Global Biodiversity Framework. We count on our continued cooperation with GBIF and partner countries to further deliver on these important commitments”.

The sustainability of the programme outcomes has been strengthened through follow-up projects involving new collaborations between grantees, which have featured dissemination activities raising awareness on the importance of biodiversity and open data.

The reviewers also noted BID's contributions toward achievements outlined in DG INTPA's Strategic Plan, by enabling digitization and mobilization of natural history collections, with the resulting data expected to aid regional management, restoration and conservation efforts. Likewise, BID specifically contributed toward UN SDGs, in particular goals 13 (Climate Action), 14 (Life below Water), 15 (Life on land) and 17 (Partnerships for the goals).

While the review's findings were overwhelmingly positive, the reviewers also recommended steps for addressing challenges during any additional phases of BID. To improve data publishing and enhance the projects' sustainability, the reviewers urged continued support for data publishing in the form of ad hoc workshops, cloud-hosted data repositories, and help desk services including regional contractors as was done in Africa and the Caribbean. They also suggested that increasing BID's geographic scope to include more eligible countries could contribute on wider objectives and encourage additional international collaborations, especially between countries at different levels of capacity.

CSIL, a consultancy specializing in applied economic research with expertise in regional development, conducted the review. Their report relied on a combination of methods: interviews, an analysis of BID's project portfolio, surveys of grant applicants, a network and citation analysis, and an in-depth analysis of five selected projects.

About Biodiversity Information for Development

BID is a multi-year programme funded by the European Union and led by GBIF, with additional support from the JRS Biodiversity Foundation. Its aim is enhancing capacity for effective mobilization and use of biodiversity data in research and policy in the ‘ACP’ nations of sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. From 2015, through four call for applications, the programme has provided direct funding of €4.2 million to more than 100 projects.

 This programme is funded by the European Union.