Models for alliance membership and governance


During discussions at GBIC2, attendees considered relevant organizations which might be useful models for how an alliance for biodiversity knowledge could operate.

The Apache Software Foundation coordinates the development of open source software products, many of which are essential to the operation of the Internet. It is a global community with established culture and practices for identifying, exploring and addressing shared needs. Participation is at the level of individual experts (software developers and other technologists), even though many of these individuals participate as employees of interested organizations or businesses. Individuals gain responsibility and rights to contribute, based on their demonstrated expertise and commitment to collaborative activity. The Apache Software Foundation delivers an environment within which many stakeholders can work together to incubate new projects and deliver something that benefits them all. Such a model could be relevant not only for developing software but also for enabling diverse international communities of experts (e.g. taxonomists or conservation biologists) to work together on maintaining key datasets, include taxonomic checklists, vocabularies and ontologies. It can easily accommodate the wide range of expertise that can contribute to improving digital knowledge of biodiversity.

The Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH) was established to address similar challenges to the alliance for biodiversity knowledge, covering the needs of diverse stakeholders for better management of genomics data to support human health outcomes. GA4GH, unlike the Apache Software Foundation, is a collaboration between organizational stakeholders. It serves as a forum for these stakeholders to agree work streams and real-world driver projects to advance standardization and deliver frameworks for greater interoperability. Its focus includes establishing best practice for data security, regulatory principles and ethics, as well as technical outcomes. Such a model can coordinate decentralized contributions towards a shared vision and interconnected global infrastructure.

This thread is to discuss the relevance of these models and others to the establishment of an alliance for biodiversity knowledge. In particular:

  • What other organizations could be relevant examples for the alliance for biodiversity knowledge?
  • Should this alliance be open to individual membership, or to organizational membership, or to both (perhaps for different purposes)? What are the benefits and risks associated with these options?
  • What should be the criteria or requirements for membership?
  • What governance model and processes will best support priority-setting and decision-making?
  • What will such an alliance cost and how can it be funded?

Feel free to discuss here any other issues which relate to how the alliance can operate. Comments in questions other than English are welcome.