New phase for Global Biodiversity Information Facility

"I am delighted that the 47 countries and 34 international organisations that are currently members of GBIF have secured the future of this young organisation, and again endorsed its work," said Dr. David Penman, Chair of the GBIF Governing Board. "We look forward to many new members joining GBIF during this new phase."

GBIF will continue to work to make biodiversity data and information freely and universally available via the Internet. Its efforts will focus on building Internet infrastructure that enables users to query many databases at once. GBIF also strongly encourages and promotes increases in the amount and quality of biodiversity data available to users on the Internet. Input from communities of users for the data that GBIF makes available is considered essential in GBIF operations.

During its first 5 years, GBIF prototyped its Internet-based information delivery mechanisms, and during this new phase will move the prototype toward full operations. The next phase will also see GBIF building upon the strong partnerships it has developed with other international activities, such as the Convention on Biological Diversity.

As indicated in the Strategic Plan for 2007 2011 that was approved during its 12th Governing Board meeting, during the next 5 years GBIF expects to see the electronic catalogue of scientific names (needed to search for data on species) at least 95% completed. Also, new databases will be generated by GBIF partners, and these will make up to 900 million digital data records available to users such as biodiversity policy makers, natural resource managers and researchers.

GBIF will work with partner organisations to develop and implement information standards and web-services protocols that will facilitate linking biodiversity data records with digital library information, images and other Internet information sources.

GBIF was established for the period 2001 2006 by a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that was opened for signature by all countries in 2000. The recent vote opens a new MOU for the period 2007 2011.

Annex 1 of the new MOU contains the funding principles and the schedule of contributions for Voting Participants.

During the discussion before the vote that accepted the provisions of the Annex to the MOU, it was agreed to move away from a category-based scale to a new continuous funding scale based on gross domestic product (GDP). This was seen as the most transparent and easily understood approach, and as having the best long-term sustainability. The transition from the step-based scale to the GDP-based scale will be made over the 5-year timeframe of the new MOU.

Four modifications to a purely GDP-based scheme for GBIF were adopted by the Voting Participants.
  1. There will be a cap of 23.5% on the contribution of any single Participant (i.e. no Participant should be asked to contribute more than 23.5% of the core budget in any one year);
  2. EUR 500 will be the minimum contribution that can be made;
  3. Participants whose per capita GDP is lower than USD 10.000 will be accorded a 50% reduction in their contributions; and
  4. An agreement that no Voting Participant would have a lower contribution than it made under the 2001 - 2006 MOU.
The yearly budgets that were adopted are as follows:
  1. 2007: EUR 3.114.550
  2. 2008: EUR 3.483.330
  3. 2009: EUR 3.784.500
  4. 2010: EUR 4.052.560
  5. 2011: EUR 4.286.410
This agreement will begin to move GBIF out of the prototype stage and will start the implementation of the new Strategic Plan. However, the funds agreed to were less than those recommended in the Strategic Plan. This means that GBIF will have to adopt a less expansive work programme and will need to rely more heavily on external funding.

Several Participant delegations, while agreeing with Annex 1 as adopted, were disappointed that GBIF could not move forward more quickly toward full operational status. These delegations urged all Participants to provide additional financial contributions for specific elements of the Strategic Plan. For example, it is now more important than ever that GBIF implement the campaign approach outlined in the Strategic Plan in order to accomplish many of the goals of the plan.

The Executive Secretary therefore calls upon all Participants, especially those that had hoped for a higher budget, to consider those items in the Strategic Plan that they would like to facilitate by providing additional funding, above and beyond their basic contribution.

He also urges all existing Associate Participant countries to carefully consider becoming Voting Participants. These countries have had time to understand how GBIF works, to begin setting up their Participant Nodes, and take advantage of the affiliation with GBIF. There would be no better time than now to become a Voting Participant.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul.
-- Emily Dickinson