Attendees convened at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden for Africa Rising: Mobilising Biodiversity Data for Sustainable Development, an engaging, intensive work session led by the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). The conference’s objectives were to:
•Accelerate regional understanding of the biodiversity data-science-policy value chain and draw attention to the opportunities and solutions that biodiversity data presents for sustainable development in Africa;
•Strengthen regional engagement, learning networks, and collaborative synergies with a view to streamlining the data-science-policy value chain; and
•Galvanise political commitment to mobilising Africa’s biodiversity data.
The event culminated with the release of a ‘Declaration on biodiversity information for sustainable development in Africa’, a joint statement of intent developed by participants during the conference. The conference declaration highlighted that: “Biodiversity is the bedrock of sustainable development… Next to our people, biodiversity is our greatest asset. If managed wisely, it could bring about a surge in green economic opportunities, strengthening the resilience of livelihoods and catalysing sustainable development across the continent… Achieving sustainable development in Africa will require relevant reliable biodiversity information as well as tailored products and services to be made available to researchers, natural resource managers and policy makers in consumable forms.”
The Declaration’s release on the International Day for Biological Diversity carries added poignancy given that the theme for UN’s 2015 occasion is ‘Biodiversity and Sustainable Development’.
Friday also saw the formal launch of the Biodiversity Information for Development project, or BID. Funded by the European Union (EU) and led by Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), this programme will focus on increasing the mobilization and use of biodiversity data for policy and research in the ‘ACP countries’ of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. Africa Rising provided the occasion for the first of BID’s three planned regional meetings.
Africa Rising was organized and hosted by SANBI with support from GBIF, the JRS Biodiversity Foundation, RESILIM: USAID Resilience in the Limpopo Basin, and the United Nations Environment Programme – World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC).
As GBIF‘s Local Government Node for biodiversity data publishing, ICLEI Cities Biodiversity Center hopes to spread this very important work throughout our African and biodiversity networks and projects and encourages all our members to unlock the potential of biodiversity information to help secure a sustainable future for all.