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Capacity Building

© shutterstock Darius M.

Knowing what biodiversity there is on Earth, how it is changing and why, and designing ways to use biodiversity and ecosystem services in a sustainable way are fundamental goals of conservation science and policy. Although tropical areas host most Earth’s biodiversity, the vast majority of tropical organisms’ abundance and distribution remain virtually unknown. For species that are already known, there may be only limited knowledge of their geographical distributions, practically no information on their relative abundances, and even fewer data on their temporal dynamics and the underlying drivers of change, and the consequences for the delivery of ecosystem services. In addition, most studies have focused on the ecology of these systems and there is an urgent need to establish joint natural and social studies to respond to society needs.

In contrast to the tropics’ immense natural wealth, financial resources and adequately trained personnel for conservation science and policy are critically lacking. This does not include required expansions in protected areas personnel/infrastructure, or fish and wildlife harvesting/monitoring programmes, just to name two other sectors that need to be improved in order to successfully strengthen the technical capacity for studying, protecting and managing tropical biodiversity to address societal needs.

These pressing resource imbalances must be tackled through the combination of immediate remedies and long-term strategies for data collection, effective biodiversity protection and management, and capacity building. Unless 1) the generation of new information is integrated to the development and strengthening of local technical capacity, and 2) the scientific and policy communities of biologically diverse areas take the lead in research and conservation efforts in their own region, long-term, sustainable solutions to these problems are unlikely to be found.

DIVERSITAS builds capacity by focusing on the following needs:

  1. Strenghtening biodiversity science worldwide;
  2. Training young scientists on biodiversity and ecosystem services topics; and
  3. Strenghtening the science-policy interface worldwide.

To achieve these goals, DIVERSITAS undertakes the following activities

  • DIVERSITAS Open Science Conferences: bringing developing countries and young scientists in international scientific fora;
  • Training capacity for scientists and other stakeholders: implementation of short courses; organisation of science-policy events;
  • Educational and non-specialists products: translation and dissemination of international scientific results to non-specialists, activity mostly organised through partnerships.

Some of these activities are carried out in collaboration with other organisations, in particular, the Inter-American Institute for global change research (IAI), the Asia-Pacific Network on global change (APN), the African Network for Earth System Science (AfricanNESS), and the global change SysTem for Analysis, Research and Training (START).


Development of international and multidisciplinary biodiversity research networks

One of the priorities of DIVERSITAS is to develop multidisciplinary biodiversity research networks and projects. DIVERSITAS provides support for the participation of developing countries scientists in these networks and projects as well as for the development of research projects within developing countries (e.g. agroBIODIVERSITY network of experimental sites).


DIVERSITAS Open Science Conferences

DIVERSITAS organises every 4 years an Open Science Conference, which is held in high biodiverse developing countries and makes a strong effort to bring together scientists from the region and worldwide. The First DIVERSITAS Open Science Conference took place in 2005 in Oaxaca, Mexico, one of the most culturally and biologically biodiverse countries in the world: 37% of the participants were from developing countries, two third of them from Latin America and most of them supported by DIVERSITAS. The Second DIVERSITAS Open Science Conference took place in 2009 in Cape Town, South Africa, with the goal to strenghten the participation of the African scientific community in DIVERSITAS: it attracted an international audience of 700 scientists and policy makers from about 70 countries representing many facets of biodiversity science and policy. About 40 % of these participants came from developing countries, and 30% were young scientists.


Training capacity for scientists and other stakeholders

As training activities, DIVERSITAS organises courses for young scientists or managers and events to strengthen the science-policy dialogue on topics related to biodiversity and ecosystem services:

  • Course for Latin American students on "Phylogenetics and molecular evolution", organised in Guernava, Mexico (June 2009 - 1st edition, January 2011-2nd edition). More
  • 3-days training workshop on "Phylogenetics and population genetics" organised during the VII Reunión Alejandro Villalobos, Universidad de Quintana Roo in Cozumel, Mexico (October 2010).
  • Workshop and summer research exchange programme for post-graduate students on (EcoHealthNet project) on global environmental change and health (June 2011 at the Johns Hopkins University, USA).
  • Short courses on some specific topics related to biodiversity and freshwater resources management in collaboration with the Partnership with the Global Water for Sustainability Program (GLOWS).
  • Organisation of side events at SBSTTA and COP meetings of the Convention of Biological Diversty (e.g. side events organised at COP10 (Oct. 2010) and SBSTTA14 (May 2010)).


Educational and non-specialists products

This activity is carried out in partnership with GreenFacts.

The mission of GreenFacts is to bring complex scientific consensus reports on health and the environment to non-specialists. The objective of GreenFacts is to be the preferred online source of scientific information for journalists, decision makers, stakeholders, teachers, and concerned individuals. GreenFacts publishes summaries of two kinds of existing scientific reports on environmental and health topics: 1) the GreenFacts Digests, which are summaries of an authoritative scientific consensus report and are published under the authority of the GreenFacts Scientific Board. For example, Biodiversity & Human Well-being; and 2) the GreenFacts Co-Publications, which are published at the request of a contracting organisation.

All GreenFacts' summaries are peer-reviewed by independent experts. They are published on-line as questions and answers with some unique features, such as GreenFacts' proprietary Three-Level Structure of increasing detail, designed to help readers to easily find the depth of information they need.

DIVERSITAS has supported the publication of the following GreenFacts' documents :

  1. Biodiversity & Human Well-being: the material content of the texts is sourced from the "Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Biodiversity Synthesis" of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, a leading scientific report produced in 2005 by a large international panel of scientists. More
  2. Biodiversity: A Global Outlook: The material content of the texts is sourced from the "Global Biodiversity Outlook 2", a report by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) produced in 2006 by a large panel of scientists. More
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