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PACIFIC, CARIBBEAN, EASTERN & SOUTHERN AFRICA, WESTERN & CENTRAL AFRICA

The Reference Information System 2.0 is BIOPAMA’s open-source, web-based information platform on protected areas management and biodiversity conservation. It collects, gathers and organises the work of regional partners in the BIOPAMA Observatories. Andrew Cottam, the biodiversity conservation and information system designer working at the Joint Research Centre - European Commission, explains how it works in a few words.

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What are the main differences between the RIS1.0 and the new version proposed?

In BIOPAMA Phase 1, we succeeded in providing conservation actors with a user-friendly platform where they could access information on 9,141 protected areas in ACP countries. Our ambition for Phase 2 is to give them the tools to shift ‘From Knowledge to Action’. In other words, the RIS 2.0 allows users not only to access information but also to act based on the information provided.

How does the RIS 2.0 support this shift ‘From Knowledge to Action’?

By promoting the use of a well-known, successful paradigm in the world of conservation practitioners: the State – Pressure – Response logical framework. Think about it as a cause-effect logical relationship: it foresees, as a first step, to give an overview of the current situation (State), whether for your protected area, country or issue. The second step involves detecting and identifying major threats to it (Pressure) and the third to take action through Response, which is completed by users and this is what makes different and innovative this platform.

Can you explain a bit better what the ‘Response’ is about and how it works?

‘Responses’ can be intended as solutions to specific issues. Solutions, in turn, are policy interventions adopted at every level of governance. For example, the adoption of a National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) is a Response at the country level. An NBSAP establishes policy targets to be achieved within a given time period. For example one of the targets set in the NBSAP of the Republic of Palau in the Pacific is ‘Developing appropriate and specific management strategies for at least 50% high priority species by January 2018’.

By monitoring progresses against targets, we can define the success or failure of a given policy, and this is possible at the local, national, regional or global level. Establishing targets, policies and indicators is what every verified user can do on the RIS 2.0.

Can you make some example of how solutions/Response have worked in the past?

In a paper published on Science already in 2010, Stuart Butchart and more than 20 colleagues used this framework to track the rate of global biodiversity loss against the target set by the Convention for Biological Diversity for year 2010.

They compiled 31 indicators on the state of biodiversity - covering species’ population trends, extinction risk, habitat extent/condition, and community composition - to show their acceleration or deceleration over time.  

Their results show that coral reef conditions declined at the same deceleration rate as in mid-1980, which is a relatively positive news. Nowadays, we could use the same logical framework for tracking progresses towards the Aichi targets 2020, among others. 

What is the main rationale for using this framework?

As Butchart pointed out, there are currently considerable gaps in data collection, in temporal, spatial and thematic coverage terms. In other words, data are scarce and scattered, especially for some developing countries, for specific periods and on some specific species. Monitoring progresses against targets is clearly possible only by adopting a system that allows for constant, regular and organized data collection with reference to specific policy targets.

This is what the current RIS 2.0 is aimed for. 

Stay tuned to know more.

 

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