What is Biodiversity Informatics Policy?

This is the question I asked myself last year when I joined JRS.  I knew that private U.S. foundations often powerfully serve their missions by advancing policy research and analysis.  But what would that mean for JRS?  Last Friday, JRS issued its first request for proposals to seek an answer to these questions.  Our first step is to seek project teams from Latin and South America and from sub-Saharan Africa to discover and review what the existing formal and gray literature has to say on the subject for their regions.

Our mission is to increase the knowledge of biodiversity for the benefit of life and earth.  We have strategic priorities to link biodiversity data to the preservation of biodiversity and to build capacity to create and use biodiversity data and knowledge. So what policies foster the creation of, the access to and the value of biodiversity information?

One framing could be to distinguish policies that create the supply of biodiversity knowledge from those that create the demand for biodiversity knowledge.  Supply side policies might include such policies as those that enable scientific research, bandwidth and technology access, and technical training and education.  The demand for biodiversity data might come from policies such as those that relate to national and international biodiversity status assessment, trade in endangered species, government transparency, land use planning and environmental impact assessments.  But which of these and other policiess are the most significant determinants of whether societies have access to biodiversity information for conservation and sustainable development?

Selfishly, what ‘supply side’ policies enable JRS grantees to succeed and grow and what ‘demand side’ policies ensure that JRS-funded data and tools inform vital decisions for biodiversity preservation?

We hope our RFP will support several energetic teams of expert policy researchers to help frame the questions, sort out the state of current knowledge, identify gaps in knowledge, and excite interest in this field.