Strategies for Open and Permanent Access to Scientific Information in Latin America: Focus on Health and Environmental Information for Sustainable Development

Open Access and the Conservation Commons: putting biodiversity data and information to work, Tom Moritz, Conservation Commons, USA

Environmental degradation and species loss continue to accelerate. Solutions may be found to reverse these trends, but these will only be possible with comprehensive data, information and knowledge on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

Accessing biodiversity data and sharing conservation knowledge are not simple tasks, however. Difficulties abound. Much of the data, information and knowledge conservationists require is fragmented, difficult to find, or simply not accessible. This challenge is considerably magnified in many developing countries where the consequences of under development and the "digital divide" present enormous challenges to the realization of successful conservation efforts on the ground.

Managing the vast amounts of data and information we generate daily related to biodiversity represents a huge challenge to conservation organizations. Equally important is the challenge of ensuring these assets are available - on demand - to decision makers, policy makers, and others in ways that are easily "fusible" into a variety of applications, visualization tools, and decision support systems. These global biodiversity data sets represent the foundations of our knowledge related to life on this planet, and a significant contribution to ensuring long term sustainable development and human well being.

Tom will speak on the Conservation Commons - a growing, global partnership addressing the challenges of fragmentation, access, and integration we face in the realm of biodiversity data and information. These impediments not only affect the success of conservation efforts, but also impinge on government and private sector decision making which directly (or indirectly) impacts biodiversity. This presentation will explore efforts in the conservation community to unlock biodiversity data and information, and put these assets to work for conservation.

A growing international cooperative effort of conservation organizations, research agencies, scientific institutions, and corporations - the Conservation Commons is working to remove barriers to access, and more effectively connect practitioners to data and information assets in four key areas:

The Conservation Commons has coalesced around an agreed set of principles - defining a commonly held vision for open access, shared responsibilities, and ensuring the most effective use of biodiversity data and information. Over 70 institutions have formally endorsed these principles since the Conservation Commons was launched at the IUCN World Congress in November, 2004 The purpose of the Conservation Commons is to ensure open access and fair use of data, information, and knowledge on the conservation of biodiversity.
  • The Global Alliance for Enhancing Access to and Application of Scientific Data in Developing Countries, of the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development, UN G@ID
  • U.S. National Committee for CODATA
  • Brazilian National Committee for CODATA.
  • CODATA Task Group on Preservation of and Access to Scientific and Technical Data in Developing Countries