Africa Rising | May 2015 | Cape Town

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19-22 May 2015 | Cape Town, South Africa

The conference, Africa Rising: Mobilising Biodiversity Data for Sustainable Development, took place at the Old Mutual Conference Centre in Kirstenbosch National Botanic Garden, Cape Town, from 19 to 22 May 2015. It was organised by SANBI in partnership with the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), United Nations Environment Programme – World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), and the Resilience in the Limpopo Basin Programme (RESILIM), with financial support from the JRS Biodiversity Foundation and European Union (EU). It sought to achieve the following objectives:

  • Increase regional understanding of the biodiversity data-science-policy value chain and identify the opportunities and solutions that it presents for sustainable development in Africa;
  • Draw attention to relevant tools, resources and learning networks for building effective biodiversity information systems in Africa; and
  • Articulate a ‘Plan of Action’ for mobilising and mainstreaming Africa’s policy-relevant biodiversity data, and forge international partnerships to implement it.

Approximately 100 delegates attended the conference representing research institutions, international organisations, and donor agencies. A total of 21 African countries were represented: Angola, Benin, Botswana, DRC, Guinea, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Kenya, Senegal, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.


AR2015 participants 

Caption: Africa Rising delegates at the opening ceremony on 19 May 2015 (credit: Gavin Withers)


The official conference report can be downloaded from here.

Photographs of the event can be found here.

The conference programme can be downloaded from here.

A list of participants can be downloaded from here.

The Declaration on Biodiversity Information for Sustainable Development in Africa can be downloaded from here (French version here; Portuguese version here).

The draft Plan of Action for Mainstreaming and Mobilising Africa’s Biodiversity Data can be downloaded from here.

Presentations are listed in chronological order as follows.



Participants considered the potential contribution that biodiversity data can make to Africa’s sustainable development, specifically the ways in which biodiversity data can be applied to enhance decision-making.


1.1 Opening ceremony and welcome address


1.2 Goodwill message from CBD Executive Secretary

Read by Mr Nicolaas Van Der Werf, Programme Officer, CBD Secretariat


1.3 Statement of Hon. Edna Molewa, Minister of Environmental Affairs

Read by Dr Tanya Abrahamse, CEO, SANBI


1.4 Group Photograph


1.5 Where are we now?

Africa Rising

Mr Maxwell Gomera, Deputy Director, UNEP-WCMC

Dr Neil Burgess, Head of Science, UNEP-WCMC

Africa’s ecological futures and flashpoints

Dr Deon Nel, Conservation Director, WWF International

The state of biodiversity information in Africa

Dr Olaf Banki, Senior Programme Officer for Participation, GBIF


1.7 What is our plan?

GBIF Africa Work Plan

Ms Hulda Gideon, Regional Representative, GBIF Africa

Global Biodiversity Information Outlook

Mr Donald Hobern, Executive Secretary, GBIF


1.8 Mobilising data for research & policy

Dr Siro Masinde, Programme Officer, GBIF


1.9 What is biodiversity information for?

Sectoral mainstreaming

Ms Caroline Petersen, Head of Ecosystems & Biodiversity

Impact analysis for improved biodiversity management

Dr Nkobi Moleele, Chief Scientist, RESILIM and Ms Belynda Petrie, CEO, OneWorld Sustainable Investments

Food security

Ms Elizabeth Arnaud, Scientist, Biodiversity International

IPBES assessments

Dr Luthando Dziba, Competence Area Manager: Ecosystem Services, CSIR




Participants reviewed and reflected on experiences and distilled a set of lessons from various relevant initiatives. This was followed by a field trip.


2.1. Barriers and solutions to data mobilisation

Findings of BIOPAMA

Mr Andrew Cottam, Post Doc Researcher, European Commission

Findings of UNEP-WCMC

Dr Eugenie Regan, Senior Programme Officer, UNEP-WCMC

Findings of the regional JRS project

Mr Russell Galt, Project Coordinator, SANBI

Findings of the National Scientific Research Centre (CNIC)

Mr Jeronimo Diogo, National Scientific Research Centre of Angola

Findings of Sud Expert Plantes

Dr Anne-Sophie Archambeau, GBIF France Node Manager, GBIF


2.3 How do we build effective information networks?

Dr Nick King, Board Member, ARCOS

Prof. Jean Ganglo, Director of the Forest Sciences Laboratory, University of Abomey-Calavi and Vice Chair of GBIF Science Committee

Ms Fatima Parker-Allie, Deputy Director, SANBI

Dr Alex Asase, GhaBIF Node Manager and Lecturer, University of Ghana




Through a series of presentations and an information fair, participants examined a suit of relevant tools, products, services, learning networks and funding opportunities.  So too, they began compiling a joint ‘Declaration on Biodiversity Information for Sustainable Development in Africa’ as well as a regional ‘Plan of Action for Mobilising & Mainstreaming Africa’s Biodiversity Data’.


3.2. Where can you get help?

BON in a Box

Dr Gary Geller, Senior Expert for Biodiversity and Ecosystems, Group on Earth Observations (GEO)

Learning networks

Ms Hulda Gideon, Regional Representative, GBIF Africa, GBIF

UNEP-WCMC tools and resources

Mr Tim Wilkinson, Head of Informatics, UNEP-WCMC

GBIF tools & resources

Dr Siro Masinde, Programme Officer, GBIF

Toolkit for determining policy-relevant biodiversity data

Mr Russell Galt, Project Coordinator, SANBI

Biodiversity informatics curricula

Ms Fatima Parker-Allie, Deputy Director, SANBI

Prof. Jean Ganglo, Director of the Forest Sciences Laboratory, University of Abomey-Calavi and Vice Chair of GBIF Science Committee

Biodiversity Heritage Library

Ms Anne-Lise Fourie, Chair, BHL Africa


3.3. How do we leverage resources?

Biodiversity Information for Development (BID)

Dr Olaf Banki, Senior Programme Officer, GBIF

Sud Expert Plantes développement durable

Dr Pierre Radji, Curator, National Herbarium of Togo

BIOPAMA as a resource

Mr Selwyn Willoughby, Technical Advisor for IUCN BIOPAMA & Founding Partner of Refleqt Information Management Services

CEBioS Programme

Ms Anne-Julie Rochette, Programme Officer, CEBioS



Participants refined and finalised the Declaration and Plan of Action before celebrating the UN International Day for Biological Diversity by presenting indigenous trees to a local school.

4.1 Declaration on Biodiversity Information for Sustainable Development in Africa

Read by Dr Anthony Muyepa, Director General, National Commission for Science & Technology of Malawi

(French version here; Portuguese version here)


SANBI would like to thank all involved in the organisation and execution of this conference.