Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Worldwide call for OA to publicly-funded research on biodiversity and the environment

Conservation Commons is submitting a petition to the Governing Council of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) calling for open access to publicly-funded research, past, present, and future, on biodiversity and the environment.  From the petition:

Open Access to Data and Information on Biodiversity and the Environment.

...Comprehensive knowledge on the environment is essential for successful environmental management. Access to the best available data, information, and knowledge on the environment constitutes a fundamental precondition to meeting the objectives of UNEP, Multilateral Environmental Agreements, and the Millennium Development Goals.

Yet fundamental data and information on the environment and biological diversity are often fragmented, difficult to find, or simply not accessible. Key investment decisions are taken, in many cases, without the best available data on potential environmental impacts....

RECALLING Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration, establishing that each individual shall have appropriate access to information concerning the environment that is held by public authorities;

NOTING the Mission of UNEP “to provide leadership and encourage understanding in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples . . .” as well as to facilitate “the transfer of knowledge and technology for sustainable development”;

RECOGNIZING the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention);

FURTHER RECALLING the Berlin Declaration on open access in the Sciences and Humanities and the Budapest Open Access Initiative; ...

The undersigned call upon the Parties to the 24th UNEP Governing Council and Global Ministerial Environmental Forum to consider the Principles of the Conservation Commons and, wherever possible in accordance with these Principles, ensure that all past, present and future publicly funded research results, assessments, maps, and databases on the environment and biodiversity are made freely and openly accessible to everyone.

Principles of the Conservation Commons

Open Access: The Conservation Commons promotes free and open access to data, information and knowledge for all conservation purposes.

Mutual Benefit: The Conservation Commons welcomes and encourages participants to both use these resources and to contribute data, information and knowledge.

Rights and Responsibilities: Contributors to the Conservation Commons have full right to attribution for any uses of their data, information, or knowledge, and the right to ensure that the original integrity of their contribution to the Commons is preserved. Users of the Conservation Commons are expected to comply, in good faith, with terms of uses specified by contributors.

From Donat Agosti's call for signatures:

This call is important to assure that environmental data is increasingly made open access, best demonstrated by NASA’s release of invaluable remote sensing data or the many systematics institutions opening up their holding and supported with GBIF’s global access portal.

It includes access to literature, but there is a strong focus on primary data, gray literature and knowledge.

Comment.  This petition deserves worldwide support.  Please consider signing as an individual or institution.  You can sign electronically at the petition web site or physically sign a printout (PDF edition) and fax it to Conservation Commons at +1 514 287 9687. 

The petition is undated but will be presented to the UNEP Governing Council at its 24th Session, which will take place in Nairobi, February 5-9, 2007.