Position Paper: OBIS and IPBES

Last updated on Fri, 2013-02-15 08:53. Originally submitted by ward.appeltans on 2013-01-18 11:57.

The Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) and the 'Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services' (IPBES)

The first official plenary session of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) takes place in Bonn from 21-26 January 2013.

IPBES is co-hosted by four UN agencies: UNESCO, UNEP, UNDP and FAO, and is supported by ninety countries. The secretariat is hosted in Bonn (Germany). IPBES, like IPCC for Climate Change, will bridge the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services.

The Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS), operating under the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO, and providing the largest global biogeographic database on marine species, can play an important role in coordinating the marine biodiversity data and information flow (from observation, data aggregation, validation and interpretation) to advice and serve IPBES.

Having this marine focus, OBIS also contributes to GBIF and GEO BON, and seeks to further extend this collaboration in IPBES.

IPBES will need accurate, both historical and near real-time species observations on a local, regional and global level. For marine biodiversity assessments, OBIS can play a crucial role in bridging the gap from data to science to policy making, by coordinating the data and information flow, from data collection, integration, standardization, validation, publication to interpretation.

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO wishes to refer to:

Paris June 2009, IOC Resolution XXV-4, the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS), in which IOC Member States adopted OBIS as part of IOC’s International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange Programme and hereby acknowledged the importance of open-access, global databases on the diversity, distribution and abundance of marine species, to assist decision makers to sustainably manage our ocean’s living resources.

OBIS providing the world's largest (and ever growing) online data system on marine biodiversity (http://www.iobis.org). Currently, it aggregates 1,130 datasets, making 35 millions geo-referenced species observations of 120,000 marine species, from the Poles to the Equator, from the surface of the ocean to the deepest trenches and from Bacteria to whales, freely available on the Web. A major asset of OBIS is that it integrates species observations with habitat (depth) and environmental data (e.g., salinity, temperature, oxygen and nutrients: nitrate, phosphate, silicate) making it an important source of information for climate change and environmental impact studies.

The crucial role OBIS has in contributing to other intergovernmental and international organizations dealing with global fisheries, environmental and biodiversity issues, including, but not restricted to, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, the Group on Earth Observations – Biodiversity Observations Network, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, and the Convention on Biological Diversity, and its wish that this role regarding marine biodiversity will be continued and expanded in the future to support the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).

The decisions of the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (Decision COP10/29 para 10 and 35; Nagoya October 2010) in which Member States are requested to further enhance globally networked scientific efforts, such as the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS), to continue to update a comprehensive and accessible global database of all forms of life in the sea, and further assess and map the distribution and abundance of species in the sea, and called upon IOC/OBIS to facilitate availability and inter-operability of the best available marine and coastal biodiversity data sets and information across global, regional and national scales. In this context, OBIS is extensively used by the research community and is playing a crucial role in providing scientific guidance, data and information for the identification of Ecologically or Biologically Significant marine Areas, through a series of regional workshops in 2011, 2012 and 2013. This work is part of CBD’s Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, and in particular Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 to conserve and sustainably manage at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas by 2020, as agreed upon by the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya in 2010.

More information:

OBIS Project Office
UNESCO/IOC Project Office for IODE
Wandelaarkaai 7/61, 8400 Oostende, Belgium
Email: info@iobis.org
Website: www.iobis.org

OBIS is a project of:
IOC-UNESCO
IODE Sponsored by:
Martin International and Les Grands Explorateurs
With in-kind support from:
Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab, Duke University
Universidad Simón Bolívar Flanders Marine Institute

OBIS strives to document the ocean's diversity, distribution and abundance of life. Created by the Census of Marine Life, OBIS is now part of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO, under its International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (IODE) programme.