The Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) and CSIRO’s National Research Collections Australia were proud to host both the Biodiversity Information Standards (TDWG) Annual Conference in Hobart and the 30th Annual Governing Board Meeting of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) in Canberra in October 2023. The CSIRO has had a long history of association with both organisations, having been involved with TDWG and GBIF since they were established in 1985 and 2001 respectively.

TDWG 2023 logo

TDWG Annual Conference (9-13 October, Hobart)

The TDWG Annual Conference is a major international event for the biodiversity informatics community. It is a forum for researchers and practitioners to share their latest work, discuss new developments in biodiversity informatics standards and network with colleagues from around the world.

The ALA and CSIRO were proud to host the TDWG 2023 conference in Hobart, having last hosted the conference in Australia in 2008 (in Fremantle). The conference covered a wide range of topics, including:

  • Biodiversity data standards for documentation and data interchange
  • Data management tools and services
  • Data sharing and access
  • Data use in biodiversity research, policy, and practice.

The TDWG 2023 Annual Conference was attended by 166 participants from 26 countries, with a further 143 participants joining virtually. The event was comprised of four days of symposium presentations and discussions and one day of excursions around Hobart. The ALA team presented 10 abstracts across the conference and was involved in coordinating nine symposia and workshops.

“One foundation reason that the ALA and GBIF can exist is that, many years ago, the biodiversity community got together and created standards for how to record and share data. Those standards continue to be developed, refined and promoted through TDWG. And it all happens through people talking with each other. ALA and NRCA were proud to offer Hobart as a scenic backdrop to the vital networking, conversations and stimulating presentations that make TDWG a vibrant community of volunteers keeping biodiversity data being shared,” said Dr Ely Wallis, Chair of the TDWG Executive.

Collage of Australian animals on a cream coloured background

GB30 graphic

GBIF and the Governing Board

The Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) is an international network and data infrastructure funded by the world’s governments and aims at providing anyone, anywhere, open access to data about all types of life on Earth. The ALA is the Australian node of GBIF providing over 110,000 million biodiversity species occurrence records to GBIF annually.

The GBIF Governing Board are responsible for setting the organisation’s strategic direction and overseeing its operations. In accordance with the cadence of the Governing Board to meet once per year, the ALA and CSIRO were proud to host the 30th Annual Governing Board Meeting in Canberra.

The meeting discussed a range of topics, including:

  • The GBIF 2030 Strategy
  • The GBIF Secretariat’s work plan for 2024-2025
  • The GBIF funding model
  • GBIF’s engagement with other international organisations.

Governing Board and associated events program (15- 20 October, Canberra)

In addition to hosting the Annual Governing Board Meeting, the ALA and CSIRO facilitated several other events throughout the week, working closely with the GBIF Secretariat to develop the agenda, arrange the logistics, and promote the meeting to the international community.

The international GBIF delegation was welcomed to the Canberra CSIRO offices at Black Mountain on 15- 16 October for two days of Nodes training, followed by the Global GBIF Nodes Meeting on 17 October (also at CSIRO). We welcomed 45 participants in-person from 30 countries and nine organisations to the Nodes Meeting, with a further 28 individuals from 12 countries and 6 organisations participating online.

On 18 October, the GBIF 30th Annual Governing Board meeting (GB30) kicked off at the National Portrait Gallery with a gala dinner hosted at the National Museum of Australia where Minister for the Environment and Water the Hon Tanya Plibersek delivered an opening speech, affirming Australia’s commitment to collaboration on international biodiversity matters and informed by robust biodiversity data. The second day of GB30 continued at the National Portrait Gallery.

The week concluded on Friday, with the ALA and CSIRO hosting an international Symposium at CSIRO titled The Changing Face of Biological Collections – data, science and applications. This event involved GBIF delegates as well as a suite of national stakeholders to present, discuss and explore the increasingly important role of biological collections in supporting innovative biodiversity science.

“It was fantastic to see so many inspiring and passionate international delegates come together to advance discussions on global biodiversity data. The collective knowledge at an event such as the GBIF Governing Board Meeting is immeasurable. By connecting through such forums, we create pathways to further learn and collaborate, and by doing so make biodiversity data more accessible to everyone. We are particularly grateful to Australia for hosting such a marvellous event,” said Dr Olaf Banki, Executive Secretary, Catalogue of Life.

Global Biodiversity Information Facility Governing Board international delegation at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra.