[CODATA-international] Twenty years of GBIF: CODATA’s independent review charts successes and challenges

Asha CODATA asha at codata.org
Mon May 4 06:50:24 EDT 2020

*CODATA, the Committee on Data of the International Science Council,
published today its 20 Year Review of GBIF, making comprehensive
recommendations to maintain GBIF’s relevance and standing.*

CODATA was commissioned by the GBIF Governing Board to to carry out an
independent review, 20 years after a working group of the Organization for
Economic Cooperation and Development <http://www.oecd.org/> (OECD)
recommended the creation of a global biodiversity information facility in

The resulting report published by CODATA, *Twenty-Year Review of GBIF*
<https://doi.org/10.35035/ctzm-hz97>, follows a year of research, including
interviews with more than 100 experts worldwide from various parts of the
GBIF network and wider biodiversity information community.

It is the most comprehensive review of GBIF’s activities in more than a
decade and offers a series of recommendations that aim to build on its
achievements to date while addressing a range of challenges to secure the
network’s future.

*CODATA Twenty-Year Review of GBIF https://doi.org/10.35035/ctzm-hz97

The Review comprises and EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
<https://doi.org/10.35035/ctzm-hz97> and the detailed FULL REPORT

In its summary of conclusions, the review calls GBIF “the most
comprehensive, openly available, application-agnostic (most unbiased),
easiest-to-use, and modern access point to known digital species occurrence

“Consequently, as a global, distributed platform, GBIF is viewed widely as
being a major success and a great improvement over alternative solutions,”
the report concludes. “This relates equally to the data it provides and to
its capacity building activities.”

The report cites GBIF’s foundational principles of functioning as a
distributed organization with a dependable funding structure as
contributing factors towards its success to date.

Nevertheless, the review identifies major challenges lying ahead for GBIF
and suggests that proceeding as before may not be an option for the
network’s continued success. The challenges are grouped into four
overarching areas:

   - *Data and technologies*, including fitness for purpose, transparency
   and completeness of data, as well as addressing the increasing quantity and
   importance of non-traditional biodiversity data sources such as remote
   sensing, genomic analysis, other automated observations and contributions
   by citizens
   - *GBIF’s organization and community*, including gaps in participation
   from some global regions, especially Asia, and the functioning of the
   network of national and thematic nodes
   - *The domain of funding*, noting the challenges of maintaining
   sufficient funds to cover both the core global activities of GBIF and the
   staffing of national nodes
   - *Management of expectations*, addressing the risk that stakeholders
   may have unrealistic expectations of what GBIF is able to achieve given the
   level of resources and effort required.

The review makes 27 separate recommendations aimed at addressing these
challenges, divided into general, short-term and long-term groupings. These
recommendations are listed in the Executive Summary
*Response from GBIF*

In a message to the Governing Board, GBIF Chair Tanya Abrahamse welcomed
the Review, thanking the CODATA team for a thorough effort that will help
GBIF charting the way ahead. “In general CODATA is very positive about the
way in which GBIF has navigated a complex landscape over the years, has
grown to be the ‘go-to’ source of biodiversity data, and is good value for
money for our funders. This success should be pleasing to us
all,” Abrahamse wrote. “CODATA also outlines serious challenges and great
opportunities we need to seize as a community over the next decade, if we
are to meet the demand for biodiversity information and to maintain
relevance as a global infrastructure.”

The GBIF Executive Secretary, Joe Miller, added that the challenges and
opportunities highlighted in the review had been thrown into sharp relief
by the current COVID-19 pandemic. “More than ever, GBIF needs to
demonstrate relevance through a robust value proposition,” Miller said. “We
are able to show that data mobilized through GBIF on vectors and hosts of
zoonotic diseases play a critical role in supporting research on human
health risk. The CODATA review challenges us to become better advocates of
our data infrastructure, and its contribution to evidence-based decision

See more on the GBIF website:





*Call for sessions, posters and lightning talks
deadline 20 July:** International FAIR Convergence Symposium 2020*

*UNESCO Global Consultations on Open Science*
<https://codata.org/unesco-global-consultations-on-open-science/>, deadline
for inputs 15 June.

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Policy Committee, Deadline Monday, 25 May 2020

*CODATA Connect and Data Science Journal Essay Competition*
deadline 30 June 2020.

*DDI – Cross Domain Integration (DDI-CDI):* first Public Review
Release, deadline for comments 31 July.

*April 2020 publications*
<https://codata.org/april-2020-publications-in-the-data-science-journal/> in
the CODATA Data Science Journal <https://datascience.codata.org/>

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Asha Law | Program Assistant, CODATA | http://www.codata.org

E-Mail: asha at codata.org
Tel (Office): +33 1 45 25 04 96

CODATA (Committee on Data of the International Council for Science), 5 rue
Auguste Vacquerie, 75016 Paris, FRANCE
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