Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF)

2012 Biodiversity Informatics Conference

Project Details

Grant Amount: $25,000
Contact: Tim Hirsch
Contact Email: thirsch 'atsign'
Funding Dates: 3/28/12 - 8/30/13

BackgroundGNT 60290 GBIF-logo-200x215

The Global Biodiversity Informatics Conference (GBIC, 2-4 July 2012, Copenhagen, Denmark) was conceived as means of convening leading experts in biological sciences, policy and informatics to develop a common approach to answering critical questions relevant to addressing biodiversity loss. While hosted by the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), the GBIC sought to provide community consensus around a framework that could inform future policies and funding priorities.

Key Objectives and Activities

The key objective of GBIC 2012 was to identify how best to harness the power of information technology, biodiversity science and social networks to improve our understanding of life on Earth. The two major activities, both supported by a grant from JRS Foundation as well as other donors, were convening the conference itself in Copenhagen in July 2012, and subsequent drafting through a core writing team of the Global Biodiversity Informatics Outlook (GBIO), which distilled and structured the framework that emerged from the GBIC 2012 workshops.

Planned Outputs

  • Open access to presentations and other resources of the GBIC via a dedicated website ( (delivered July 2012)
  • Development of logo and branding for GBIO (delivered August 2013)
  • Printed and online versions of the Global Biodiversity Informatics Outlook (delivered Oct 2013)
  • Dynamic website giving up to date details of the GBIO framework and associated projects (delivered September 2013)
  • Social media platforms (Facebook and Twitter), poster, flyer and slidedeck providing branded communication resources for GBIO (delivered August-October 2013)

Planned Outcomes

The major planned outcome associated with the GBIC/GBIO project is to see the framework being taken up by governments, scientific institutions and funders. If successful, this will help direct resources and coordinate existing efforts towards the key steps needed to improve the biodiversity information available to decision makers and wider society. From encouraging open data policies, through integrating diverse data sources and developing predictive models to better inform policy, GBIO can be a major catalyst to achieving national and global targets to reduce and eventually halt biodiversity loss. It is most encouraging that from the moment of its publication, GBIO has been recognized by a range of institutions as an important framework for collaboration, and with good follow-up its impact on conservation and sustainable use of biological resources could be substantial.

Primary Software Platforms

The GBIO website at is based on WordPress.

Results to Date

Within a short period of its publication in October 2013, the GBIO has had a significant impact in the context of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). At the opening of the 17th meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA 17), the CBD Executive Secretary Braulio Dias referred to GBIC as a “landmark conference” and proposed that the GBIO form “a framework for a continuous partnership” to assist countries in meeting targets to reduce biodiversity loss. A number of national governments have voiced strong support for this approach, and discussions are under way to develop national guidelines on improving biodiversity data provision and access, based on the GBIO framework.

Lessons Learned

The major lesson learned was the challenge of translating the outputs of conference workshops, albeit well structured and focused, into a publishable document within a reasonable time frame. The GBIO appeared many months later than originally planned, although in the end the timing was opportune given the recent focus of the CBD on data and monitoring issues. Future projects of a similar nature, including future editions of the Outlook, will benefit from more disciplined commitments from contributing authors, supported by dedicated editorial resources, to stick to an agreed timetable.

Last Updated: February 28th, 2017

Notes from JRS

JRS was very pleased to join the  Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), CReATIVE-B, the Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation and the University of Copenhagen to providing financial support and facilities for GBIC 2012.  It was very gratifying to see how many past and current JRS Trustees as well as past and current JRS grantees were in attendance and were active in the conference organization and the follow-up Outlook report.  The report has already been helpful to JRS as we discuss and learn about our role in the biodiversity informatics community and how to place our investments in a broader context of the domain.

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