From 24-27 July 2018, a group of more than 100 invited stakeholders will convene in Copenhagen for discussions about an international coordination mechanism for biodiversity informatics. In addition to exploring how such a coordinating mechanism could operate and its potential for accelerating the delivery of linked and open global biodiversity data infrastructures that benefit science and society, attendees of the Second Global Biodiversity Informatics Conference, or GBIC2, will also carefully consider issues related to governance, trust, technical and sociological factors, and sustainable funding for such a mechanism.
The first GBIC conference took place in Copenhagen, Denmark in July 2012 and led to the publication of the Global Biodiversity Informatics Outlook, or GBIO, which laid out a vision of the major areas where biodiversity informatics needed to advance.
The GBIO vision remains as relevant today, given that the scientific community continues to wrestle with the magnitude of the task of describing the diversity of life, documenting the complexity of its functions and improving planning related to natural resources, at all scales, with the societal goal of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Biodiversity knowledge and understanding can and should be organized as linked, open, accessible and resilient digital resources that support all of these needs.
In the years since the first GBIC event, while the global community has made significant advances in some areas, progress remains uneven. Many factors contribute to this, including cultural, sociological and technical ones, but one key issue is the nature of funding for relevant activity. Researchers and practitioners advance biodiversity informatics largely through small- to medium-scale projects, initiated in response to local interests and priorities—a situation that leads to a proliferation of standards, tools and processes that do not combine into a fully interoperable whole.
To keep its initial discussions on practical matters, GBIC2 will focus on parallel sessions that explore four GBIO component areas and the challenges certain to arise in developing priorities and a multi-year roadmap for each:
- Biodiversity knowledge network
- Published materials
- Integrated occurrence data
- Trends and predictions
Recent efforts have repeatedly identified the need for biodiversity informatics stakeholders to collaborate at a global scale to identify common priorities and coordinate implementation of these priorities.
There is a clear need for an open and trusted mechanism that allows the international community to develop a shared vision for each of the component areas in the GBIO, and to agree on the major elements and components which need to be prioritized to achieve these visions.
Once such priorities are agreed, continued coordination could allow the community to support efforts by agencies and institutions in different countries to secure funding and to implement these components.
While attendance is necessarily limited and discussions will be conducted entirely in English, GBIC2 represents just the opening stage of a broader consultation process. Following the workshop, the recommendations and outcomes from its discussions will be translated into multiple languages and shared widely, after which all stakeholders interested in the future of biodiversity informatics will be encouraged to critique and improve the proposals.