Connecting data and expertise: A new alliance for biodiversity knowledge

Donald Hobern, Brigitte Baptiste, Kyle Copas, Robert Guralnick, Andrea Hahn, Edwin van Huis, Eun Shik Kim, Melodie McGeoch, Isayvani Naicker, Laetitia Navarro, Daniel Noesgaard, Michelle Price, Andrew Rodrigues, Dmitry Schigel, Carolyn A. Sheffield, John Wieczorek

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5 Citations (Scopus)


There has been major progress over the last two decades in digitising historical knowledge of biodiversity and in making biodiversity data freely and openly accessible. Interlocking efforts bring together international partnerships and networks, national, regional and institutional projects and investments and countless individual contributors, spanning diverse biological and environmental research domains, government agencies and nongovernmental organisations, citizen science and commercial enterprise. However, current efforts remain inefficient and inadequate to address the global need for accurate data on the world's species and on changing patterns and trends in biodiversity. Significant challenges include imbalances in regional engagement in biodiversity informatics activity, uneven progress in data mobilisation and sharing, the lack of stable persistent identifiers for data records, redundant and incompatible processes for cleaning and interpreting data and the absence of functional mechanisms for knowledgeable experts to curate and improve data. Recognising the need for greater alignment between efforts at all scales, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) convened the second Global Biodiversity Informatics Conference (GBIC2) in July 2018 to propose a coordination mechanism for developing shared roadmaps for biodiversity informatics. GBIC2 attendees reached consensus on the need for a global alliance for biodiversity knowledge, learning from examples such as the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH) and the open software communities under the Apache Software Foundation. These initiatives provide models for multiple stakeholders with decentralised funding and independent governance to combine resources and develop sustainable solutions that address common needs. This paper summarises the GBIC2 discussions and presents a set of 23 complementary ambitions to be addressed by the global community in the context of the proposed alliance. The authors call on all who are responsible for describing and monitoring natural systems, all who depend on biodiversity data for research, policy or sustainable environmental management and all who are involved in developing biodiversity informatics solutions to register interest at to participate in the next steps to establishing a collaborative alliance. The supplementary materials include brochures in a number of languages (English, Arabic, Spanish, Basque, French, Japanese, Dutch, Portuguese, Russian, Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese). These summarise the need for an alliance for biodiversity knowledge and call for collaboration in its establishment.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere33679
Number of pages20
JournalBiodiversity Data Journal
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • Alliance
  • Biodiversity
  • Biodiversity data
  • Biodiversity informatics
  • Collaboration
  • Data quality
  • GBIC2
  • Investment
  • Open data
  • Open science
  • Research infrastructure
  • Sustainability

Cite this

Hobern, D., Baptiste, B., Copas, K., Guralnick, R., Hahn, A., van Huis, E., Kim, E. S., McGeoch, M., Naicker, I., Navarro, L., Noesgaard, D., Price, M., Rodrigues, A., Schigel, D., Sheffield, C. A., & Wieczorek, J. (2019). Connecting data and expertise: A new alliance for biodiversity knowledge. Biodiversity Data Journal, 7, [e33679].