IUCN - Global Ocean Biodiversity Initiative (GOBI)

Global Ocean Biodiversity Initiative (GOBI)

01 April 2010 | Project description

The Global Ocean Biodiversity Initiative is an international partnership advancing the scientific basis for conserving biological diversity in the deep seas and open oceans. It aims to help countries, as well as regional and global organisations, to use and develop data, tools, and methodologies to identify ecologically significant areas with an initial focus on the high seas and deep seabed beyond national jurisdiction.

Global Ocean Biodiversity Initiative (GOBI)
The Global Ocean Biodiversity Initiative is an international partnership advancing the scientific basis for conserving biological diversity in the deep seas and open oceans. It aims to help countries, as well as regional and global organisations, to use and develop data, tools, and methodologies to identify ecologically significant areas with an initial focus on the high seas and deep seabed beyond national jurisdiction.
This initiative began in late 2008 as a collaboration between the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN), IUCN, UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), Marine Conservation Biology Institute (MCBI), Census of Marine Life, Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS) and the Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab of Duke University. The initiative continues to seek additional collaborators to help bring the best science and data to bear on the identification of ecologically significant areas beyond national jurisdiction. GOBI is facilitated by IUCN with core support from BfN.
The work under this initiative ultimately aims to help countries meet the goals adopted under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development. These global goals relate to reducing the rate of biodiversity loss, applying ecosystem approaches, and establishing representative marine protected area networks by 2012.

Identifying ecologically and biologically significant areas in the deep and open oceans
In 2008 in Bonn, Germany, the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity adopted a set of seven scientific criteria to identify ecologically or biologically significant areas (EBSAs) in the global marine realm (see CBD COP 9 Decision IX/20). The criteria were compiled at a CBD Expert Workshop in the Azores (see brochure).
Area-based management approaches and tools can address a multitude of threats. These tools include marine protected areas and networks, prior environmental impact assessments, improved regulation of sectoral activities, and broader ecosystem-based marine spatial planning. Using the CBD EBSA criteria to identify specific ocean areas that require enhanced protection can thus help to achieve a variety of conservation and management objectives.

Initiative goal and objectives
The goal of GOBI is to identify, on the basis of science and at some level of certainty, a set of EBSA candidates, which possibly deserve protection, by 2012.
The project is focusing on three aspects:

  1. Establishing and supporting international scientific collaboration to assist States and relevant regional and global organisations to identify ecologically significant areas using the best available scientific data, tools, and methods;
  2. Providing guidance on how the CBD's scientific criteria can be interpreted and applied towards management, including representative networks of marine protected areas;
  3. Assisting in developing regional analyses with relevant organisations and stakeholders.

Initiative structure: Science and Advisory Board
To obtain advice from and enhance coordination with other organisations, GOBI has established an Advisory Board and a Science Board.
The GOBI Advisory Board consists of representatives from the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD), the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO, the International Seabed Authority (ISA), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and, as an observer, the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea of the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs (DOALOS).
The GOBI Science Board is an expanding body of experts responsible for developing the scientific methodologies, bringing together the relevant data, preparing an interactive mapping system, and coordinating preparation of reports. It currently includes individuals from the following organisations: Census of Marine Life, Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS), UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), Duke University Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab, Marine Conservation Biology Institute (MCBI), United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS), AquaMaps, BirdLife International, Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Tagging of Pacific Predators (TOPP), and Global Census of Marine Life on Seamounts (CenSeam).

Initiative report
The first product from GOBI was the report: Defining ecologically or biologically significant areas in the open oceans and deep seas: Analysis, tools, resources and illustrations. It was presented at a CBD Scientific Expert Workshop on ecological criteria in October 2009 in Ottawa, Canada.
The report provides an overview of scientific tools, technologies and data that can assist in the application of the CBD scientific criteria as well as current and emerging techniques and methodologies. The work also highlights key issues concerning the strenghts, challenges and limitations of data availability and scientific understanding that ocean management faces at this time, and some strategies to address these challenges.
Practical illustrations relating to species, habitats and oceanographic features are described for each of the seven CBD scientific criteria as examples of various scientific methods and techniques relevant to each criterion.
Looking ahead
GOBI will continue to seek out and involve additional scientific groups and is planning to increase its involvement and cooperation with governments, international and non-governmental organisations, as well as industry stakeholders to improve the scientific basis through applying multi-criteria analyses in different ocean regions, network design, regional workshops and capacity development.

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