The Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO), which is charged with developing an information platform on one of the world’s greatest aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity hotspots, has become the 41st organizational participant in the GBIF network and its 102nd member overall.
Created in 1998, ACTO has responsibility for fulfilling shared social and environmental objectives under the framework of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty (ACT), which its member countries signed in 1978 to foster harmonious and sustainable development of the Amazon Region.
Five of the ACTO countries—Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela—are counted among the world’s 17 “megadiverse” countries, which host disproportionately large numbers of species, particularly endemic ones that exist nowhere else in the world. Taken as a whole, the national protected areas of ACTO countries encompass nearly 48 per cent of the Amazon rainforest along with the world’s largest river basin, which delivers 15 to 20 per cent of all freshwater that enters the Atlantic Ocean. With nearly 48 million people, including 511 indigenous groups, inhabiting the region, the biodiversity of Amazonia faces multiple high-impact threats such as deforestation, extractivism, and illegal wildlife trade.
Although ACTO member countries have individually generated qualitative and quantitative information on their forests, freshwater, threatened species and other environmental resources, regional integration of and access to this information remained lacking. As a result, the foreign ministers from ACTO’s member countries directed the Permanent Secretariat of ACTO in 2012 to implement an official information platform, the Amazon Regional Observatory (ORA). ACTO will release the ORA on 10 November 2021, establishing a space for articulating a range of different information while supporting and strengthening the member countries’ information systems on biodiversity, CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and other regional information managed by the Permanent Secretariat.
“Signing the GBIF Memorandum of Understanding reflects ACTO’s concordance of views on the need to join efforts, financial resources, capacities and technologies,” said Alexandra Moreira, ACTO General Secretary. “By providing those who want access to data on Amazonian biodiversity through both the ARO and GBIF platforms, our collaboration will promote the development of scientific research and the generation of new knowledge and biotechnologies in keeping with sustainable development objectives for the Amazon Region.”
“Having ACTO join as a GBIF participant offers a promising opportunity to expand the network and build capacity within the region,” said Joe Miller, GBIF executive secretary. “Increased participation and collaboration in the Amazon—one of the planet’s most valuable and megadiverse regions—is critical to mobilizing the data we need both to understand and to protect its biodiversity.”