The Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG) held its 2015 annual conference from the 28th September to 1st October 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya. This was the 31st meeting of the TDWG group and it was held in Africa for the first time under the theme, “Applications, Standards and Capacity Building for Sustaining Global Biodiversity”. BIOPAMA’s concepts and tools were therefore presented to a global audience with a particular interest in biodiversity information, and attracted new potential partnerships with stakeholders in Eastern Africa.
This year, the conference focused on bridging national and international biodiversity obligations with the need for accurate standards, over and above for the usual technical debates. A number of keynote addresses by various experts were delivered at the conference, with Mr. Selwyn Willoughby, the IUCN Technical Advisor for the Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management (BIOPAMA) Programme for Eastern and Southern Africa delivering one of the key note addresses on day two.
BIOPAMA's presentation provided an overview of the possible impacts of extractive industries on biodiversity and protected areas, based on the findings of the Observatory for Protected Areas and Biodiversity for Eastern and Southern Africa. Selwyn Willoughby highlighted that “the need for data standards is at the center of measuring progress and achieving our targets of conserving biodiversity and improving human livelihoods”.
The conference provided an opportunity for BIOPAMA to showcase some of its products with Ms. Beryl Nyamgeroh, the Technical Officer for the East African Community (EAC) Observatory for Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management making a presentation on the East African Regional Reference Information System (EAC RRIS). The presentation was well received and triggered the question whether the EAC RRIS was duplicating online resources that are available at both national agencies as well as through international portals such as the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF).
The BIOPAMA team explained the key feature of the BIOPAMA RRIS system, which is aiming at exposing additional information, drawing attention to the existing resources, supporting the analysis of the various data for research, planning and decision-making and providing a platform to promote collaboration.
More than offering a platform to increase the visibility of the BIOPAMA programme and its deliverables, with the financial contribution of the European Union and the ACP Group through the 10th EDF, the conference supported the BIOPAMA objectives by enabling interactions with relevant stakeholders for the development of the East African Community Observatory for Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management.