(closed) Call for proposals: regional support contractors to develop the community of practice in Asia

Candidates sought with substantial GBIF experience in data mobilization and publishing
DEADLINE: 7 September 2021

Arhopala centaurus
Arhopala centaurus (Fabricius, 1775) observed in Singapore by Catalina Tong (CC BY-NC 4.0)

The GBIF Secretariat is seeking contractors to support the team developing a community of practice in Asia through the SYNTHESYS+ project and the Biodiversity Information Fund for Asia (BIFA programme). Individuals located in eligible countries and areas in South-East Asia, South Asia and North-East Asia will support these efforts by:

  • Providing technical help-desk assistance, training and mentoring to support institutional engagement in the mobilization and use of biodiversity data
  • Facilitating exchange of guidance, best practices and expertise between regional institutions, SYNTHESYS+ partners, BIFA biodiversity data mobilization project teams, the GBIF Participant nodes, GBIF elected Regional Representatives for Asia and other volunteer experts from the broader GBIF community
  • Encouraging long-term engagement of individuals and institutions from the region in the GBIF network

SYNTHESYS+ is a project funded by the European Union aiming to support and develop the infrastructure of biodiversity collections. Since 2004 the project has supported new ways to access and exploit collections, harmonizing policy and providing significant new insights for thousands of researchers. GBIF partners in SYNTHESYS+ to support international, especially extra-European integration.

This activity aims to support cooperative activities between SYNTHESYS+ partners with collections and stakeholders in regions that are disproportionately under-represented in current activities. The focus is on further developing access and data linkage to scientific collections and ecological datasets, with the objective of making available information resources required to address key policy needs around biodiversity.

This appointment, like those recently made in sub-Saharan Africa and the Caribbean, responds to recommendations in the CODATA 20-Year Review of GBIF, in this case both to strengthen nodes by stabilizing and extending the regional networks and to build participation in the global East.

About GBIF capacity development in Asia

GBIF's community of practice in Asia serve platforms for communication, coordination and collaboration among GBIF Participant nodes at the regional level.

In 2015, GBIF launched the Biodiversity Information Fund for Asia (BIFA) programme, a programme funded by the Ministry of the Environment, Government of Japan. This aims to address key challenges and priorities identified in connection with the mobilization and use of biodiversity data in the region. BIFA supports projects that

  • Strengthen the capacity of institutions in the target countries to manage and mobilize biodiversity data
  • Mobilize primary data on Asian biodiversity
  • Increase open data on Asian biodiversity to fill taxonomic and geographic gaps, within and beyond the grant period

Six calls for proposals have been issued under the BIFA programme with the aim of addressing key challenges and priorities identified in connection with the mobilization and use of biodiversity data in the region. A new set of projects funded under the BIFA programme will start in September 2021 and run for up to 18 months.

GBIF places strong emphasis on capacity enhancement to support the project teams in achieving their goals, recognizing that there are significant challenges to successful implementation of what are often first-time data mobilization projects.

The role of the regional support contractors

While the Asia region remains relatively underrepresented in GBIF's formal participation, many SYNTHESYS+ partners have bilateral relations with relevant institutions in the region, and there is a growing community of practice of individuals and data publishing institutions actively engaged in data mobilization and use. In supporting this community in Asia, the regional support contracts will contribute to:

  • Increased regional biodiversity data availability to support science and decision making
  • Strengthened regional capacity and development of skills in biodiversity data mobilization and use
  • Increased institutional collaboration and regional engagement in the SYNTHESYS+ and GBIF network

The contracted roles will complement volunteer mentors, including those from the greater SYNTHESYS partnership, who also remain an essential component of GBIF's capacity enhancement activities.

The aim is to create a team of dedicated individuals enhancing the work of the GBIF Secretariat through their presence in and knowledge of the target region.

The contractors will work in collaboration with the GBIF Participant nodes and the elected Regional Representatives to strengthen the coordination of regional participation in GBIF.

Scope of work

The contracted individuals will have responsibility for delivering:

  1. Regular group meetings to develop the community of practice by engaging current and past BIFA project teams, relevant SYNTHESYS+ partners, the Participant nodes and their teams, the data publishing community and interested observers
  2. Help desk assistance as the primary technical point of contact assisting with regional data mobilization and data quality issues, in coordination with the relevant GBIF Participant nodes and the GBIF Secretariat Data Products team
  3. Technical administration of a regional cloud-hosted IPT for Asia and the BIFA project teams
  4. Mentoring focused on technical support for implementing data mobilization plans at the institutional level or within funded projects
  5. Support for regional capacity enhancement workshops and development of GBIF training materials
  6. In coordination with GBIF Secretariat and GBIF Participant nodes, support regional engagement in updating and maintaining relevant entries in the Global Registry of Scientific Collections (GRSciColl)
  7. In coordination with relevant SYNTHESYS+ partners, GBIF regional representatives and relevant GBIF Participant nodes, support in recruiting and assigning appropriate mentors to strengthen the community of practice
  8. Recommendations on future development of the community of practice, including identification of key capacity needs and training opportunities
  9. Bi-monthly status reports summarizing activities undertaken personally and by the community, in addition to participating in regular planning meetings involving the GBIF Secretariat and other regional contractors.


The contractor should be a national or full-time resident of one of the eligible countries.

Required skills and experience

The ideal contractor would already have substantial experience in data mobilization and publishing through GBIF, particularly from biological collections, and a solid working knowledge of:

  • The content, structure and components of the GBIF data infrastructure
  • The GBIF Integrated Publishing Toolkit (IPT)
  • Relevant standards for data exchange (Darwin Core Archive and EML)

Other required skills:

  • Fluency in English is required as it is the working language in SYNTHESYS+ and of the Secretariat. Additional language skills will be considered an advantage.
  • Familiarity with the GBIF network
  • Strong communication skills and the ability to provide clear guidance, for example, on technical issues related to data publishing
  • The ability to work independently and as part of a team

In addition, the following skills will be considered beneficial in carrying out the work defined effectively:

  • Basic project management skills, for example having successfully delivered funded projects
  • Experience in training or mentoring
  • Experience in setting up and/or updating an IPT
  • Relational databases and SQL
  • Experience with data processing, working with large data bases
  • Basic understanding of JSON web services and their use
  • Knowledge of R or Python and APIs
  • Mobilization of data derived from DNA, for example metabarcoding and eDNA projects

Schedule and time commitments

We expect the contracted work to take no less than 50% full-time equivalent over the contract period. The majority of the working hours allocated to the contract should fall within regular working hours for the region and at least some of the working hours should fall within regular working hours for Denmark, where the GBIF Secretariat is located. If the work will be carried out alongside another role, we will require written confirmation from the applicant's other employer that they are aware of the additional hours to be committed to this contract.

The FTE rate for a 12-month contractor period based on 40 hours a week is EUR 45,000 for the contract period.


It is expected that the work is carried out at the home base or host institution of the selected candidate. Applicants must be individuals located in eligible countries and areas in the region. Applications from countries or organizations that already participate in GBIF must include a statement of endorsement from the GBIF Head of Delegation or Node Manager. Contact information for representatives of GBIF Participant countries and organizations can be found on the Participant tab of the country pages or from the Participant list.

Application procedure

Applications must be submitted in English through the GBIF Grants Portal by 7 September 2021. When completing your application form on the GBIF Grants Portal, you must upload:

  1. A full CV for the individual submitting the application
  2. For applications from countries or organizations that already participate in GBIF, a statement of endorsement from the GBIF Head of Delegation or Node Manager. This can take the form of a letter stating at a minimum that the Head of Delegation or Node Manager is aware of the application and that it appears to fall within the scope of the call.

If the individual selected is currently employed, a letter of support from your employer or host institution will be required.

Questions on the application procedure may be directed to Asia_support@gbif.org

About the GBIF Grants Portal

We highly recommend that applicants create an account in the GBIF Grants Portal as early as possible, as the account verification process can take up to two working days.

Note that if you already have an account in the GBIF Grants Portal, you should use your existing login information. You should not create a new account to apply to this call.

If you need to create an account in the GBIF Grants Portal and you are not currently affiliated with an organization:

  1. Go to the GBIF Grants Portal and click on "create an account now".
  2. Choose "yes" when asked if you represent or are affiliated with an organization or an institution.
  3. Complete the form indicating your primary contact information.
  4. In the Organization Information section, indicate the following under organization's name: 'Your first name-your last name-Consultant' and then replicate the information provided in the "Primary Contact Information" section of the form.

Selection process

A selection committee will involve GBIF Secretariat staff, members of the SYNTHESYS+ project partners, and the Asia regional sub-committee of the GBIF Participant Node Managers Committee.

The applications will be screened to ensure that they meet general eligibility criteria. Those that pass these tests will be scored against the following selection criteria:

  • Demonstration of required skills
  • Previous relevant experience
  • Appreciation of the task
  • Potential for lasting impact on the capacity within the region
  • Value for money

The selection committee will then evaluate the concept notes based on scoring. The committee may also take the following criteria into account to ensure that the final selection includes a balance in:

  • Geographic spread of applicants within the region
  • Language skills within the region
  • Complementary skill set within the region, e.g. balance of technical
    and project management skills

Short-listed candidates will be invited to interview in October 2021. Candidates will be expected to demonstrate their skills in data mobilization through a practical exercise.

Eligible countries and areas

Brunei Darussalam
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
Republic of Korea
Lao People’s Democratic Republic
Sri Lanka
Viet Nam