• Donald Hobern

Detailing shared, pragmatic approaches toward a grand vision

Updated: Oct 29, 2019


Attendees at last summer’s GBIC2 workshop sought to define the vision for integrating biodiversity informatics at a global scale. The findings in the recent IPBES global assessment highlight the importance and the urgency of this effort.


Biodiversity is central or relevant to many research domains and has significance for many areas of sustainability, planning and policy. When combined with the complexity and variety of species and living systems, these various interests have spawned a vast array of agencies, institutions and projects operating at different scales and specializing in different aspects of research, monitoring, conservation, management and use of biodiversity.


Each of these enterprises is supported in turn by an ever-increasing number of platforms and tools for storing, aggregating and analysing data. Investment needs and strategies for these vary around the world. Some countries need better coordination, alignment and integration between established programmes and infrastructures, while other countries require additional capacity and expertise in order to establish national programmes.


It is impossible to capture all of this complexity in a single statement. Nevertheless, even across a diverse spectrum of stakeholders such as those gathered at GBIC2, few disagree about the importance and the needs of aligning as many requirements as possible as part of a holistic programme of activity.


The ambitions we presented as a call to action document the most fundamental shared components of such a programme, spanning four broad areas of focus:

  • Support for science and evidence-based planning. Biodiversity informatics must serve to increase understanding and advance knowledge of the world's genes, species and ecosystems

  • Support for open data and open science. Biodiversity informatics must adopt and promote best practice to maximize re-use of valuable data and to ensure that all sources and contributors are properly acknowledged

  • Support for highly-connected biodiversity data. Biodiversity informatics must deliver the multi-directional linkages required to facilitate integrative biodiversity research and to support cross-domain investigations

  • Support for international collaboration. Biodiversity informatics must enable the entire global community to contribute knowledge, collaborate in planning and implementing systems, and benefit from timely and comprehensive access to data

The detailed ambitions listed within each of these areas can all contribute to establishing road maps to guide us toward shared goals and a common culture for the global biodiversity informatics community.


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