Large parts of the tropical world in Africa, South America, and Asia are rich in biodiversity but there is a paucity of data. These areas also have large and dense human populations where development aspirations are altering ecosystems at an alarming pace. Documenting biodiversity and making the data available to scientific, policy and citizen communities will be instrumental in enhancing the prospects for biodiversity conservation in these areas. Global initiatives in biodiversity informatics and open data need to recognise the challenges faced by the global south. The broad challenges are 1. Community engagement and participation; 2. Capacities in biodiversity science and data; 3. Technology and infrastructure; and 4. Institutional and sustainability.
The symposium will focus on the current practices and challenges of biodiversity informatics in the global south. A strategy to weave together different initiatives at different scales and focus holds promise for building vibrant communities of practice in biodiversity informatics and an international network. The symposium will provide a forum for the exchange of experiences and ideas across a wide range of initiatives with diverse objectives from Asia, Africa, and South America. These would range from locale-specific to national and regional scales. They could be taxa-specific or attempt to cover the whole spectrum of biodiversity. The symposium aims to identify shared lessons and specific aspects of challenges faced by these initiatives. It will aim to initiate the development of a strategy for cooperatively addressing these challenges effectively. It will explore mechanisms to enable their stronger participation and enhanced contributions to global knowledge.