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25 Mar 2019 | News

Hand in hand for global biodiversity data sharing

ICIMOD hosts the 2018 Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) Asia Regional Nodes Meeting

Pratikshya Kandel & Nakul Chettri

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2018 Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), Asia Regional Nodes Meeting. 17-18 September 2018 Kathmandu, Nepal Photo: Jitendra Raj Bajracharya/ICIMOD.

The 2018 Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) Asia Regional Nodes Meeting was held in Kathmandu, Nepal, from 17 to 18 September 2018 to facilitate effective planning and implementation of biodiversity data publishing and use in Asia. Speaking at a high-level session at the meeting, Honourable Minister Shakti Bahadur Basnet, Ministry of Forests and Environment, Government of Nepal, emphasized, “Easy availability of biodiversity data enables informed decision and policy making to halt rapid loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services.” He reiterated the role of biodiversity data sharing and utilization in solving complicated biodiversity conservation and management issues.

GBIF is an intergovernmental initiative with a global network in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America, and Oceania. GBIF organizes regional meetings annually or biannually to update members, address issues and set regional priorities for biodiversity data sharing and utilization. The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), an associate member of GBIF since 2009, shares the common agenda of generation, management, and dissemination of data with open-access option. ICIMOD has been proactive in contributing to the global agenda of data and information exchange, including biodiversity-related, socioeconomic, geospatial, and multi-thematic data at various scales.

Against this backdrop, the 2018 GBIF Asia Regional Nodes Meeting was organized by the GBIF Secretariat, ICIMOD, and the Ministry of Forests and Environment in Kathmandu. The purpose of the meeting was to update members and share the actions undertaken by node agencies in terms of biodiversity data publishing and use, and develop shared strategies and recommendations for enhancing and sustaining biodiversity data sharing and use in the region. The meeting was attended by 20 participants, including node managers and invited observers from nine countries from the Asia-Pacific region – Bhutan, China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Nepal, Mongolia, Taiwan, and Vietnam – as well as Denmark.

During the meeting, Tim Hirsh, Deputy Director of the GBIF Secretariat, pointed out data gaps that exist in the Asia-Pacific region: “The Asia-Pacific region is particularly rich in biodiversity, but it is identified as one of the data-deficit areas in the world. Thus, more organizations and governments from this region are encouraged to collaborate to address the common issues of data generation, sharing, and utilization for biodiversity conservation.”

Eklabya Sharma, Deputy Director General, ICIMOD, highlighted the Centre’s contribution to generating and sharing data in the region. “High-quality data generation and dissemination is one of ICIMOD’s mandates. The Centre is committed to providing quality data from the region to interested researchers, decision makers, and the general public through the Regional Database System. We are fully focused on enriching the GBIF database by linking it to this system.”

As a part of the meeting, the participants also visited the National Herbarium and Plant Laboratories, National Botanical Garden, ICIMOD Knowledge Park, and Patan Durbar Square (a World Heritage Site) in Kathmandu. The event was supported by GBIF and the Austrian Development Agency (ADA).

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