The Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS), run by IOC-UNESCO, is an important contributor to several international processes, such as
- (i) the United Nations World Ocean Assessments of the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, including Socio-economic Aspects,
- (ii) the regional and global assessments of the Intergovernmental science-policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and the Transboundary Water Assessment of the Global Environment Facility.
The Convention on Biological Diversity is also using OBIS as a key source of information for the identification of Ecologically or Biologically Significant marine Areas (or EBSAs). OBIS is a fundamental component of these processes as it is now the world’s most comprehensive database on the diversity, distribution, and abundance of life in the ocean in time and space. It is built by a collective effort of thousands of scientists and data managers employed by hundreds of institutions around the world who brought over 50 million observations of 120,000 marine species into the public domain. The European contribution is significant with EMODnet playing a pivotal role: around 20 million of these records are provided by EMODnet Biology.
The UN General Assembly has benefitted from OBIS for its contribution to Marine Scientific Research in its recent Omnibus Resolutions on Oceans and Law of the Sea. In addition,OBIS may become an important data clearing-house platform for a new legally-binding instrument under the Law of the Sea Convention to conserve and sustainably use marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ), currently under negotiation at the United Nations.