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Barriers to data access

A key concern for many, particularly in developing countries, are barriers to the effective use of data, information and knowledge that already exists. Working with the Conservation Commons and particularly with the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, UNEP-WCMC is one of a number of organizations addressing this.

During 2012 UNEP-WCMC produced a paper on the barriers to sharing biodiversity data and information, in its capacity as Secretariat of the Friends of the Conservation Commons. The document (available below to download) suggested a series of actions to reduce these barriers, each targetted to specific actors including governments, academics, donors, publishers and 'knowledge brokers'. The paper was discussed at the 4th meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on the Review of Implementation of the Convention (held in Montreal in May 2012) and at the 11th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). CBD Decision XI/2 Section B Paragraph 13 specifically references this paper and urges actors and stakeholders to begin work to reduce the barriers to sharing biodiversity data and information.

The Conservation Commons was created at the 3rd IUCN World Conservation Congress in 2004 in order to increase the dissemination and sharing of data concerning biodiversity and conservation in the hope that this improved access to data will increase the effectiveness of conservation efforts. 

The Conservation Commons has three main principles

  1. Open Access: the promotion of free and open access to data, information and knowledge
  2. Mutual Benefit: encouraging participants to upload information and use information that has already been shared
  3. Rights and Responsibilties: users must comply with terms of use and respect the Contributors' right to attribution


The Centre is a partner and friend of the Conservation Commons, as well as providing the secretariat for it and sharing publications on its ConserveOnline workspace. In 2010 the Friends of the Conservation Commons was established to take forward the principles of the Conservation Commons more effectively, and the response of the CBD to the first major effort on this is described above.

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